With all of the excitement surrounding Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix and Bionic Commando Rearmed, it's easy to forget that Capcom has other retro resurrections in store for the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. That's right, later on this year the company intends to release their first 194X game in close to a decade, and just last week Capcom released Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3, the long-awaited third installment in the Commando/MERCS franchise.
Influenced by the ultra-violent action films of the 1980s (Rambo, etc.), Commando was a vertically scrolling arcade game released in 1985. Outside of influencing an entire generation of overhead shooters (including, but not limited to, Ikari Warriors, Who Dares Win and Rambo: First Blood Part II), Commando also went on to spawn one of my all time favorite arcade games - MERCS. It has taken Capcom eighteen years to bring us a proper third installment to this venerable game franchise, and now that I've had a chance to play through the entire game, I can honestly say that it was worth the long wait.
At its core Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 plays a lot like most of the other recent dual-stick shooters (Geometry Wars, Everyday Shooter and even Capcom's own Rocketmen: Axis of Evil). You use the left analog stick to run around the battlefield (dodging bullets, picking up items, advancing the level, etc.) and the right analog stick is used for, you guessed it, shooting all of the enemies that are unlucky enough to get in your way. If you're expecting Commando 3 to be a fully original and innovative action game then you're going to be sorely disappointed. But then again, this is the resurrection of a 23 year old franchise; I can't imagine anybody expects this to be anything more than fan service for all of those gamers who still remember plugging quarter after quarter into the coin-operated cabinet.
The story (or what there is of it) is extremely simple; it involves a three-person team of mercenaries making their country proud and the world a little safer by taking down a psychotic dictator who is threatening to destroy the world ... or something like that. Really, the only thing you need to know is that you're an Arnold Schwarzenegger-style action hero and it's up to you to kill thousands of enemy troops, disable tanks and blow up their base of operation. There are a few cinema scenes here and there, but for the most part the story gets out of the way so that the action can take center stage.
And let me tell you, this is one action-packed arcade shooter. With five levels to go through and plenty of bad guys, Commando 3 has everything you could possibly want in an overhead dual-stick shooter. You have plenty of varied locations (including the forest, a swamp, a secret underground lair, the beach, an ancient temple, and much more), a whole host of nifty weapons to play with (rocket launcher, spread gun, flame thrower, etc.) and even vehicles you can commandeer. On top of that, each one of the three characters has their own unique M-Crash attack (which destroys just about everything on the screen), as well as extra power-ups that will increase the effectiveness of your weapons. If you've played either of the prequels (Commando or MERCS) then the action will feel right at home, even if this time around you're controlling everything with two analog sticks.
Unfortunately Commando 3 does have a few major problems, including one that may just be a deal breaker for some people. The biggest concern is the game's length, which clocks in at around an hour (give or take). Considering the game's price tag ($10) it may seem like you're not getting a whole lot of content for your money. This is a legitimate complaint with the game; it's a shame that Capcom (or, more specifically, Backbone Entertainment) couldn't have added a few more levels. But don't confuse the short story mode with a lack of replay, because this is the kind of game you'll definitely want to go back to time and time again ... especially with your friends.
Page 1 of 2