Commandos 2 HD Remaster has the same gritty feel as the original but with modern graphics and requires careful decision making when planning your assaults.
Commandos 2 HD Remaster is real-time tactics game developed by Torus Games, published by Kalypso Media and released on Steam on January 24, 2020. This is a reimagining of 2001’s Commandos 2: Men of Courage, a sequel to 1998’s Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines. Men of Courage was originally developed by Pyro Studios and published by Eidos Interactive for PC’s on September 20, 2001 and saw a console release in 2002. Commandos 2 HD Remaster is also planned for release on modern consoles sometime in Spring 2020.
Set in the backdrop of World War II, you’ll go behind enemy lines in 10 missions across 9 different environments with night, day and weather effects, using authentic weapons and vehicles from the period. Your squad of British commandos is constantly outnumbered and outgunned, but this is the way. Each mission requires careful planning with a combination of stealth, positioning, sabotage and strategy. You cannot go in guns blazing as the game emphasises players to avoid direct confrontation, rather using various commando abilities to progressively take down enemy forces in order to achieve the mission objectives.
Commandos 2 HD Remaster adds new visuals, reworked controls, an updated user interface and revamped tutorial missions to help ease veterans and new players alike into this classic Commandos experience. I never played the original games so I was glad to have these in-depth tutorials to guide me. The first two missions act as tutorials, and even though gameplay elements are explained, it still took alot of trial and error to actually learn the mechanics as they are so detailed.
The remastered graphics of the background scenery and buildings is fantastic and looks great at high resolutions. Considering the original game utilised a resolution of 640×480, it’s a testament to the development team to be able to now support up to current 4k resolutions. The shadow effects are also particularly good when compared to screenshots of the original. The controls and menus feel old and clunky but I personally like this as it reminds you this is a remaster of a 2001 classic, and i like the nostalgia of playing games in that era.
A lot of players have complained loudly at this re-release because most of the vehicle and buildings used to have references to Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, but these have been removed from this remaster. I can see how this would take away from an otherwise authentic commando experience in WWII. There’s also no co-op multiplayer mode, but given I never played the original, these are things that don’t matter much to me personally.
Your squad starts small with the thief and the sapper in the first tutorial mission. The second mission gives you access to an elite green beret and a sniper. Other characters in the game include a diver, spy and the seductress (who can use her lipstick to distract enemies). There’s even a faithful doggo called Whiskey that can transfer inventory items between soldiers, as well as bark at the enemy to cause a distraction. Each class has its own specialised skills to help infiltrate and defeat enemy forces. You will need to be constantly switching between the commandos to work on their strengths in order to take out patrols, disarm mines, cut through barbed wire fences, silently take-down and bind/gag enemy soldiers, and so on.
Only the thief can pick locks to open crates and doors. If a sapper picks up a set of lockpicks, they first need to work their way back to the thief, or the thief to the sapper, exchange the inventory item and then the thief can use the lockpicks. Thankfully Whiskey helps here once you unlock him. Only the thief and the green beret can climb up power poles and shimmy along power lines. Conversely, the thief can’t punch a soldier to the ground and bound/gag them, only Sappers can do that. It’s a clunky system that takes getting used to, but it means you really have to think about the objective and which commando is best equipped to do that part of the mission.
The missions themselves are based on some real WWII events that are instantly recognisable to history buffs. One mission has you capturing an Enigma machine and it’s codebook in a German submarine base in La Rochelle, France. Another mission features the Pacific Theatre where they rescue a Colonel Guiness who in turn helps them destroy the bridge over the River Kwai. Then there is a mission during the Normandy invasion and the battle of Cerbourg where the commandos rescue a wounded Private Smith and, with the help of American soldiers, defend the town from waves of German infantry and Panzer III tanks.
It’s really cool playing out these historic missions, but it’s also very punishing if you do any of it wrong, and worse, when you forget to save your progress. There are little to no checkpoints and you can’t pause the game which leaves patrolling enemies who can catch you out. I also sometimes forgot which character could do which ability, so I had to click through each commando to remember their skillset. It’s a bit counterintuitive and there were many times where I was concentrating so hard on the tactics and positioning, taking my time to plan my precise moves, only to stuff up by selecting the wrong commando who stepped on a mine instead of disarming it. Simple mistakes meant I had to do whole sequences again.
Overall I gave the game a 7/10. If you played and loved the original games, you may be put off by the censored content with the German and Japanese symbols removed and the lack of co-op play. I didn’t play the originals, but I also don’t have an issue with the censorship or playing this solo. It didn’t affect my gameplay experience and I love the nostalgia from playing remastered version of these older games. Commandos 2 HD Remaster has the same gritty feel as the original but with modern graphics and requires careful decision making when planning your assaults. The controls take some getting used to and this game does require alot of patience, but the gameplay is top notch, providing you take the time to learn and apply it.
According to a recent article in PC Gamer, Kalypso Media along with Claymore Game Studios has started work on a new Commandos game in the series. I look forward to hearing more about this game throughout the year. This review utilised a Steam key provided by the publisher. Commandos 2 HD Remaster is available on Steam for AUD28.95 and coming soon to consoles. If you’re really turned off by the censorship and lack of co-op, you can still play the original Commandos 2: Men of Courage on Steam for AUD6.95.
Written by: @ChrisJInglis