Back to boot camp. Preview

Back to boot camp.

Round up the troops and wash your momma’s army boots, beause the highly-anticipated

second installment of the awesome Commandos

series brought to you by the fine folks at Eidos is on its way. If you’ve played

the first game, you already have an idea of the strategic goodness the series

offers. If not, let me bring you up to speed.

Commandos takes place during WWII, featuring a squad of elite troopers

know as the “Dirty 1/2 Dozen.” Players control several individual soldiers in

various missions to foil the German armies. Like any well-trained military unit,

the commandos will have to use stealth as well as strength to overcome superior

numbers and dire situations. It’s up to you to decide exactly how.

Each member has his own unique traits that must be utilized in order to win

the day. Leading the squad is Sergeant “Tiny” McHale, the all-around superman

who loves to stash enemies into barrels. There’s also “Inferno,” the demolitions

expert, “Fins,” the team diver, “Tread,” the driver, “Spooky,” master of disguise,

“Duke,” sniper extraordinaire, and “Lips,” the lone female force.

Players are given the task of overlooking the battlefield and giving the soldiers

the orders to make the mission a success. Much of the game involves sneaking

around from place to place and eliminating the enemy through stealth and surprise.

There are few occasions where you’ll go in guns a-blazin’, so you’ll need to

be very careful with lives.

The team has taken on two new members with slick new skills with which to

foil the enemy. “Lupin” is the team’s thief, an expert at breaking and entering.

He can scale walls, pick locks and hide like a small child who broke mom’s vase.

He also has a trained pet rat that’s excellent at distracting enemy soldiers.

Also joining the team is Whiskey, the team’s Bull Terrier mascot. It isn’t

completely clear what Whiskey can do at this point in time, but I hear he can

run around with bombs strapped to his back. Who knows – maybe he’ll also be

able to fire a machine gun and pose as the enemy commander. Does anyone know

where I can get one of those dogs?

New for Commandos 2 is a spectacular isometric engine that will give

players the ability to rotate the camera and view the map from various angles.

Allowing for both indoor and outdoor environments, it’s simply gorgeous. It

scales back remarkably well, so that even if you don’t have a burly new 3D card

(yes, the game will support 3D hardware), you can run it in software mode and

still think it’s pretty.

More goodies are in store with the addition of new weapons (bazookas, flamethrowers)

and vehicles (jeeps, tanks, ships, and more). With impressive physics and hands-on

control, driving like a maniac is plenty of fun. I know I can’t wait to get

behind the wheel of a tank again. It’s always a blast using the enemy’s own

weapons against them.

As always, we’re in store for a multiplayer treat. Playing the cooperative

mode with a bunch of friends was amazingly fun the first time around and I’m

sure Commandos 2 won’t disappoint.

Commandos 2 will also feature a revamped AI system, and if the playable

demo was any indication, it looks like you’ll have to dig deeper into your bag

of tricks to beat these guys. Expect impressive line of sight dynamics as well

as audio cues. A noisy soldier is a dead soldier.

If you haven’t played the original game, by all means go out and do so. I’m

sure you’ll find it to be a terrific bargain. And of course for those of you

that have already played the game, you have my permission to drool profusely.

The complex gameplay coupled with the fantastic new engine make for a deadly

recruit. We can’t wait!

Commandos 2 is due out this Spring for the PC.