Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 Review

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Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Backbone Entertainment

Platforms: Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3
Reviewed on PlayStation 3

General Ratiev is once again terrorizing the free world, taking hostages and unleashing hordes of minions to fire slow-moving bullets around the landscape. Only a trio of the world's toughest commandos has a hope of freeing the prisoners and putting a stop to Ratiev: Codenames Wolf, Coyote and Fox.

Kyle Ackerman

Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 is another fine throwback to the old arcade days of games like the original Commando and Ikari Warriors when you always started at the beginning of a war, and enemies' lives, save those of bizarrely vulnerable bosses, were worth little... except points. Like most such games, Wolf of the Battlefield is really about two things: getting to the end, and doing so with more points than anyone else. It resurrects the Commando franchise, brining the classic style of arcade play into the living room in full 3D. This game does justice to fond memories of quarters an coin-operated play.

The game operates like a lot of recent, downloadable console shooters. One joystick controls movement, while the other keeps you firing continuously in whatever direction you tilt. There are power-ups that change your weapon, score bonuses and, occasionally, vehicles, but it's always just a matter of shooting everything you see. And that's the beauty – and the fun – of these traditional shooters. You follow a pre-set path, blast everything you see, and occasionally search for a secret area with bonus points all while dodging myriad shots.

Wolf of the Battlefield really differentiates the experts from the beginners by using a score multiplier. The more enemies you kill without being hit, the bigger the multiplier grows. Get hit – just once – and your multiplier drops. So even if you are skilled enough to reach the end of the game (there are four difficulty levels if some are too hard), you'll be hard-pressed to reach the top of the online leaderboards if you can't avoid every bullet the enemy sends your way.

The game is easily the most fun when three players co-operate. The three commandos (Wolf, Coyote and Fox) each have slightly different abilities in terms of health, speed and the strength of their grenades, but aren't significantly different. Given that when you throw a grenade, your commando is frozen in place until the throwing animation is complete, I didn't find grenades nearly as useful as moving and shooting. Even so, there are several different types of shots, ranging from the basic machine gun to a rocket launcher, flamethrower and spreading bullets. There's something for every situation.

Wolf of the Battlefield isn't terribly long, but it will take even experienced players a while to work through the entire game on the hardest difficulty level, working all the way through a series of tropical beaches; a dingy urban prison; a forested, mountainous region; a swamp; and Ratiev's fortress. Once you've finished the game, there's not much to do but play through again on a harder difficulty. And once you've finished the game on the hardest level, there's nothing else to do but strive for a higher score.

There are quibbles – Aside from the ability to run over pedestrians, I didn't find vehicles particularly useful. A powered-up commando was typically more flexible, and the vehicles were hard to get out of (without getting back in), but they were fun to use to barrel through hordes of enemies. There is also online play, but I never found a match. What I did enjoy was the ability to, with a press of a button, eliminate every shot on the battlefield and do some damage to everything – this was particularly useful when dealing with a flurry of enemy fire or a boss.

The cut-scenes, too, were underwhelming. But I wasn't looking for a detailed story in Wolf of the Battlefield. This is the kind of game where individual soldiers destroy tanks the size of apartment buildings just by shooting at them a lot with an automatic rifle, and where the enemy hides medals inside secret areas of buildings that have to be blown open with grenades. But it's not less fun for that, and the colorful caricatures of typical movie villain henchmen keep things lighthearted enough to be fun, despite the constant gunfire and explosions. Wolf of the Battlefield is a fun, if brief, nostalgic outing, with little reason to come back once you've seen it all. Fortunately, at $10, you won't spend more on the game than you'd drop in quarters if this were in the arcade.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on June 26, 2008 10:41 AM.

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