Commandos 2 HD Remaster
Developer: Torus Games
Publisher: Kalypso Media
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, Xbox One
Age Rating: 16
Release Date: 4/12/20
A code was provided for review purposes.
Much like it’s namesake – Commandos 2: HD Remaster is the remaster no one suspected. Like a Commando, it just appeared out of nowhere, unexpected, unannounced but unnecessary? This HD Remaster is based on Commandos 2: Men of Courage which is a 2001 strategy game created by the now-defunct Pyro Studios and published by Eidos Interactive. Commandos 2: Men of Courage was a punishing strategy game that saw you take control of a team of Commandos during World War 2. At the time it featured some incredibly detailed settings and some fantastic sandbox-style maps from war-torn towns to sprawling Kriegsmarine bases, to even the dense jungles of Japan.
Commandos 2: Men of Courage was a pretty decent game back in 2001, even if it was hard as nails. But now 20-years later does the game stand the test of time as an HD Remaster? and how does it play on the Nintendo Switch? Well, shine them boot’s Commando its time we found out…
The story to Commandos 2 HD Remaster is pretty straight forward. Set between 1941 and 1944, the game takes place in the height of the Second World War. Your group of highly-skilled operatives are tasked in undertaking various missions across the theatre of War and your their Commander. There isn’t an overarching plot to the game other than running missions to disrupt the German and Japanese war efforts.
The gameplay retains all that made the original Commandos 2 good and bad. The game is first and foremost a strategy game that’s played in real-time. Each mission gives you a select team of Operatives to utilise as you so choose to. You’re never penalised for utilising one Commando over the other, but each has a specific skill-set which will be needed during the mission. It evokes a great sense of achievement in using these men and women to undertake these dangerous missions but the execution can feel a little stale.
Each Commando has a particular skill. For example; The Sapper can cut through barb wire fences and disarm land mines, whilst the Seductress can use her charm to get into secret places the others can’t reach. On paper, these skills work well but they fail in their execution. Actions can feel incredibly stiff and anything from simple punching to throwing grenades feel like they are performed by Mannequins. In the tutorial mission, you’re tasked with disarming some mines and you quite literally have to follow a laborious routine to detect, disarm and then remove the mine. It’s incredibly tedious and takes the shine away from what this HD remaster could have been.
Missions take place throughout various semi-sandbox style settings. They aren’t as robust as those seen in the recent Hitman games, but they get the job done. At the start of each mission, our pre-selected group go over the objectives which range from stealing sensitive documents to rescuing Allied soldiers. Its a nice touch having the briefings this way, and it gives you the sense of these guys recapping before they head off to their targets. We’re then given control of the team and away we go.
With undertaking these missions you do need to deploy quite a sense of strategy to how you go about each one. Whilst your Commando team is highly-skilled, they aren’t bullet sponges and don’t hold up whilst under fire. As such you have to meticulously plan each route. Everything from studying the enemies patterns, to their cones of vison must be taken into account. The game is that difficult it employs a manual save option, which I encourage you to use every time you act.
The opening tutorial missions give us a brief overview of how each Commando behaves and tips on how to complete certain objectives. It feels extremely arcane when based on modern tutorials. I would have preferred more hand-holding throughout – such as structured encounters and auto pausing when something was being explained. As a Commandos veteran, there are a lot of gameplay mechanics to go through and the two tutorial missions barely scratch the surface.
Controls can also feel extremely sluggish throughout, which is particularly bad when you have to contend with a high degree of planning each move. One plus side is that the point of view can be cycled through various angles and there is also quite a generous level of zoom. The various angle changes are needed when completing certain objectives too. For argument sake, if you can’t see a door to a building, you cannot order your Comando into it. It is that specific. I also had a constant fight with the camera as it often panned back to a more central position. It’s manageable but far from ideal.
Graphics and Sound
If you look at Commandos 2 as it was in 2001 then it’s a pretty looking game. However, it still looks the same in 2021. The background scenes still to this day are incredible pieces of art but they don’t keep up the illusion when zoomed in. These gorgeous pieces become pixilated and blurry when zoomed in. It’s a massive shame as the character models look great, but they look so out of place on these flat environments.
Sound is pretty much the same as it was in 2001. The music is your average military affair and is full of brass. It does well in setting the scene of the game but, there are only so many trumpets you can take. Each commando is also voiced and although the dialogue is an occasion “corny” and clichéd it comes across quite well.
For those of you like myself who played the original – Commandos 2: HD Remaster is a great trip down memory lane. It’s a rough-and-tumble strategy game that can take up quite a few hours of your time and is hard as nails – move over Dark Souls! For newcomers, however, the game feels incredibly dated and uses quite a lot of outdated gameplay and techniques. I wanted to enjoy my time with the game but sadly it should have stayed in the past.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Commandos 2: HD Remaster on the Nintendo Switch eShop by clicking here
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.