Commandos 2: Men of Courage
Quick Take - a terrific game, but perhaps not one for consoles
Having enjoyed the PC version of Commandos 2 so much last year, I've been eagerly awaiting the PlayStation 2 version, if only to see what Pyro could achieve within the limitations of the hardware. And with support for keyboard and mouse, this needn't be any less significant than its PC forefather, right? Right?
Can't move, can't see
Commandos 2 is a terrifically complex game at the best of times. You control a pack of commandos, oddly enough, fighting with the resistance against the evil Nazis. The game is played from an isometric perspective, and you control each character individually, using them in tandem to solve problems, outwit guards and complete mission objectives. On the PC, it was a bloody difficult but ultimately very satisfying game. On the PS2, the learning curve is like that cliff Tom Cruise was climbing at the start of Mission: Impossible 2, and the satisfaction fails to displace the player's pent up frustration.
When I realised that there was no keyboard or mouse support in the PS2 version, I groaned. And I was right to groan, because relearning such an intricate control system on a totally different peripheral has cost me several long, arduous, profanity-packed hours of my life. Even the simplest of things, like switching between Look and Interaction modes, becomes a chore, and having utilised every imaginable combination of buttons on the pad, someone deserves a kicking for not simply allowing frustrated fans to plug in a keyboard and mouse.
Another area which has suffered in the transition between PC and console is the visuals. Of course the PC needed whopping great resolutions to provide enough detail to really get your head round Commandos 2, and the PS2 version is lumbered with about half the sufficient detail. This means that your characters are too small, and it's often quite possible to lose them in the scenery and only find them when they start drawing fire from sharp-eyed Nazi troopers. The camera doesn't help by behaving erratically, and given how much saving and reloading you'll be doing anyway due to trial-and-error, this only compounds your misery and frustration. I know how to complete most of the levels, and yet I found myself hurling the pad around in disgust on more than one occasion - what does that tell you?
It's a shame that Commandos 2 doesn't work as well on the PS2 as it does on the PC, but then it was never likely to. Graphical shortcomings and control issues aside, it's a good game, but I can't imagine anybody wanting to put themselves through the experience to siphon off the entertainment. As it is, tactical action fans should buy the PC version or buy something else - this is a courageous effort, but it doesn't really work on a console.