Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 for PSN review
UPDATE (3/22/10) VFH Classic is dead:
Back in 1985 Capcom released a vertical shooter, Commando, into the arcades. The game was met with great popularity, and spawn many clones, something Capcom has seem to come quite used to. Later in 1990, Capcom released a long awaited sequel in the arcades, known as Mercs. Now, in 2008, Capcom releases Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3, for both Playstation Network and Xbox Live Arcade; though I'm just focusing on The PSN version here.
To be honest, the game decides not to address the story very well, in fact I really only had an idea of what the story was because of the Playstation Store description. The game just does a very poor job of storytelling, but I guess it cannot be blamed for arcade style shooters like this. So instead I will use an excerpt from Capcom themselves: "General Ratiev, evil leader of the Zalestad nation must be stopped."; no lie, that's really all they have to say regarding the story. Other than that, you are given one of 3 commandos to play as; Wolf, Coyote, and Fox. Each play about the same, the only major difference being their "M-Crash".
There are essentially just two modes in Commando 3 both of the the same. You can either play the story game alone, or with a friend or two, all on the same console. Or, you can play the same story, but online with anyone. The biggest issue I found with the online however is that no one plays the game, luckily one room was available for me to play in. Other than this, you also have an Online Leaderboard for you to track stats with anyone still playing this game, and hey, chances are you may find yourself on top.
The gameplay is pretty straight forward for a shooter. The left analog stick is used to move, the right stick is used to fire in all directions. L2 is used to do an "M-Crash" which essentially a special move that you have limited usage of, but it'll usually do quite a bit of damage. And R1 and/or R2 are used to throw grenade, it's a simple set up that seems to work.. usually. The biggest error in control is vehicles, whether it be a jeep or a tank, it uses the some control scheme that moving on foot would, but it tends to fumble, a lot. For one there's no reverse, so if you get stuck on a corner, you have virtually no options; and depending on where you try to exit the vehicle it may auto try to put you right back in, creating a never ending problem.
But despite the control issues, the game does have its moments. It's a below average single player game, but multiplayer, both on and offline is where the fun is. And being that you can play through the entire story mode online is a great plus, though finding someone to play online might actually be just as hard as finding someone to play with at home. But if you have the chance of finding someone online, don't miss the opportunity. Though just a warning about using a mic online; the game get's quite hectic in multiplayer, and the mic virtually becomes mute due a crowding of blasts.
And lastly, the game just lacks variety. There's only about five weapons to use; shotguns, machine guns, rocket launchers, flame throwers, and grenades. The levels are bland at best, and seems to have the same branching paths with just different scenery. And worst of all is the boss battles, which are always the same tank with a new weapon. What's worse about these battle's is that they're pretty much an all out seizure-fest; flashing lights, bullets everywhere. If you weren't epileptic before playing this game, you will be afterward.
As an artist myself, there is just something I really need to address about this title, and that's the art style. The previous Commando titles used a hand-painted style that most games of the hay-day had, and it fit well. Commando 3 however drops the look entirely in favor of a Flash-like style that almost makes Mega Man's NES boxart look great. It's a style more fit for that of a cheap Saturday morning cartoon than a T-rated shoot'em up made by Capcom. The toon like style works pretty well for the 3D models and environments, but the 2D designs, they are just dreadful...
Cut-scenes are only shortly seen before and after missions, but even still this has to be one of my biggest gripes about the title. In conjunction to the bland and almost "cheap" art style, the cut-scenes are no help. For one there is no sound to keep you interested other than a random door slam or a gunshot. There isn't even elevator music, so what you're left with is a silent, poorly visualized, reading chore. Not that reading is a bad thing, but at least have a nostalgic text sound to at least grab my attention. This is 2008, and considering they claim to have Norihiko Hibino (of Metal Gear fame) on as composer, it'd be nice to at least hear his music during cut-scenes.
Another big issue about this game is the sound. The menu's are nicely accompanied by a jazz flute sound, similar to that of Metal Gear Online's menus; a sign of Norihiko Hibino's work. But in gameplay, it all becomes lost. Because of the nature of the title you are constantly blasting away, and there's just a looping sound of BLAM BLAM BLAM, it's engaging at first, but it'll wear you out real quick. All is even worse in multiplayer, where the blasting is tripled by 3 guns blasting at different rates and just creating a big annoying clash of sounds. And don't even bother using a headset for the online mode, the sounds of the game will be so overpowering that you won't be able to hear your comrades, let alone yourself.
Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 is an average title to say the most. It has its fair share of issues, but it also has its moments in the multiplayer mode. However, it still leaves something more to be desired, especially looking at where the game came from. To be honest though, I'm not sure who I should blame for this title. Should I blame Capcom for publishing this? Should I blame Backbone Entertainment for developing? Or should I blame both for almost ruining a great franchise, if only just a 2 title one? All in all though, there is fun in this title, somewhere; but in the end it just doesn't have the standard of quality that Capcom games are known to have.