Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3ESRB:
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Action Games
Developer: Backbone Entertainment
1-3 players offline
1-3 players online
Xbox LIVE arcade is an area where some gamers overlook the content available. However, I find that this area is a great place to replay and enjoy some of the titles that loads of us gamers grew up with. Many old school games see re-release or an updating of some kind on Xbox LIVE arcade. Capcom is one company who has taken a liking to Xbox LIVE Arcade and they have used it to release various titles to the masses. One of their more recent games is Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3. This game is a sequel developed by Backbone Entertainment, the same guys who are handling the much anticipated Street Fighter HD game. The original Commando came out in the arcades around 1985, and a sequel followed about five years later. I have had a chance to play Commando 3 and after my time with the game I would have to say that it manages to bring a lot of old school gameplay to the table, or at least to your Xbox 360.
Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3’s graphics are quite nice considering this is a DLC game with a size limitation. The game is vividly coloured throughout, with bright easy to see characters and cool animations. While the game isn’t overly detailed, it reminds me of a slick cartoon with some Contra visuals mixed in. The game is presented in full high definition and wide screen which is nice to see. I find it disappointing to see updated games get the shaft by keeping the original size from the arcade, but keep mind that Commando 3 is not a direct arcade port, but more of a re-imagining of an arcade favorite.
I think the game’s visuals and art direction are actually quite unique. Aside from the cartoon quality character design, the environmental detail and visual effects look good. Everything from water ripples to explosions look like they belong on a next-generation console and that’s definitely a good thing. Some gamers may be a bit disappointed at the overall look of the game, but beauty is really in the eye of the beholder.
Another positive is the fairly consistent framerate. The game only bogs down in small increments when the action gets out of hand, and sometimes this is noticeable while playing online. But in the end it does not make this game unplayable, it is just more of an annoyance.
The sounds in Commando 3 are a mix of mediocre military anthems which isn’t all that bad. You’ll be more focused on the gameplay itself rather than worrying about the musical selections. Of note, the soundtrack for Commando 3 has been created by Norihiko Hibino, an international composer well-known for his work creating music for the Metal Gear series of games. There is no voice work in the game other than the odd grunt or scream of pain as you inflict or take damage. Of course the game is encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1 so the various explosions and gunfire are beautifully recreated throughout the title. I cranked it up a few times to annoy all those around me and it worked. Overall you will be happy with the audio that is included in this game.
You get to pick from three selectable characters, all of which have different stats. I really didn’t find too much of a difference between them though as they all felt and moved pretty much the same. I got a chuckle from the names: Wolf, Coyote, and Fox. These were very funny especially when you match their names to their bio-pictures.
The control scheme of Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 is surprisingly well done. The dual stick arrangement allows the left stick to control your character’s movements while the right stick controls your aiming and shooting. This simple and well conceived mechanic is absolutely perfect for this style of game. I found myself settling right into the control scheme quite easily and quickly. That is not to say it’s perfect though. At times the enemy will come at you from all sides, effectively painting you into a corner. If you are driving one of the in-game vehicles during one of these instances it spells almost certain death. Getting into the vehicle is easy, but getting out with all kinds of baddies while confined into a corner is an extremely frustrating exercise.
Weapon upgrades have a few different options. Players can collect power-ups that change such things as the type of the gun at your disposal, give you’re a rocket or flame thrower, or give you such things as a spreadshot or focused fire. The usefulness of each weapon varies depending on both player preference and the current level configuration, with changes to the latter making a decent difference as to which weapon you're most likely to want. The power-ups are typically laid out in a well thought-out fashion, meaning that if you find yourself wanting a new gun there is a pretty good chance that a collectable power-up is nearby. In terms of my own gaming style, and hunger for power-ups, I found that I preferred focused fire, as it was easy to aim and did heaps of damage when it was powered up.
Something that was a bit frustrating was when changing weapons. I found switching from a fully upgraded weapon to a new and different one would drop you down to the new weapon’s base form, forcing you to upgrade all over again. It’s a little frustrating as hordes of enemies can descend on you and having a low-grade weapon just doesn’t work very well. The worst weapon upgrade IMO is the rocket launcher, but at the same time it is the most powerful. You pretty much have to pick your shots as there is a bit of a delay between repeated rockets firing off. The lack of speed is going to get you into trouble, but if you get off some good shots the powerful weapon can be quite satisfying.
I also believe that the flamethrower was probably the least useful of all weapons, mainly because it’s rather dramatic flame effect often obscured the visibilty of enemy fire. This increases the incidental damage your player receives simply because you are not aware of where the enemy fire is and you cannot dodge the enemy bullets. The flamethrower also didn’t kill any enemies in the first or second torchings. Other than this major qualm with this one weapon the rest of the weapons were uniformly decent.
Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 is online enabled with a few different modes and things to do with other gamers. The game supports up to three players simultaneously, both online and on a single console. The differences between online and offline was virtually seamless. When heading online I only had one lag issue in about a dozen plays, so my online experience was pretty enjoyable. There are online leaderboards letting players vie for the best online rank against the world's greatest commandos. One thing of interest here, I found my ranking amongst my friends list to be near the bottom, but I’m confused as my scores were much higher than anyone else’s. It seems like a pretty a strange scoring system, the lower the score, the better you your rank.
An added bonus for those who purchase Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 is that they become automatically eligible for the Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix Beta test. The kicker about this is that it is only available on the Xbox 360. For me, being an older gamer and who gets an early chance to play another arcade classic such as Street Fighter re-worked from the ground up is a huge bonus.
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