Games

Dual Analog Shooters Go Commando

Capcom's shoot 'em up Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 is oddly reminiscent of another recent Capcom game...


Publisher: Capcom
Genres: Action
Price: $10.00
Multimedia: Commando 3: Wolf of the Battlefield
Platforms: Xbox 360 (Reviewed), PlayStation 3
Number of players: 1-3
ESRB rating: Teen
Developer: Backbone
US release date: 2008-06-11
Website
Developer website

Picking up Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 for a playthrough, I was struck with an unflinching sense of déja vu. "Schiller, you idiot, of course you're feeling déja vu," you say, "it's the third game in a series. Chances are, it has something in common with the first two Commando games, yes?"

Well, yes, but those games are oddly not what Commando 3 reminds me of.

In fact, by the time Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 came out, I had all but forgotten about the first two Commando games, and why not? They were released in 1985 and 1991 (as Commando and Mercs in America, and as Wolf of the Battlefield and Wolf of the Battlefield 2 in Japan), which means I've had plenty of time for my TV and game-addled brain to forget they ever existed as anything but a footnote to Bionic Commando, perhaps my favorite game of all time. No, what Wolf of the Battlefield immediately evokes is a different Capcom franchise, one more recent, more immediate, and more...mediocre.

That franchise would be the Rocketmen franchise.

Obviously, it hasn't been that long since I put down Rocketmen: Axis of Evil (probably) for good, which was fine with me given that its distinct (read: awkward) art style and oddly cumbersome shoot-everything-that-moves action were starting to grate on me a bit. As such, it was an utter shock to find Commando 3 with a very similar, though thankfully devoted to two dimensions, art style in the cutscenes and a play style highly reminiscent of that belonging to Rocketmen. You choose one of three different characters with varying attributes, and then proceed to run around with one analog stick and shoot in every direction with the other analog stick. Along the way you pick up prisoners, hop into various vehicles, and cause a whole lot of mayhem.

On one hand, this sort of gameplay is a perfect fit for the style of those old overhead Commando games -- the number of times I used to wish there was an easy way to run in one direction and shoot in another in Commando and Mercs is pretty much uncountable. On the other hand, it feels like folly to release this thing so close to the release of Rocketmen. All that's going to happen is that people who consider themselves fans of this sort of game are simply going to get burned out on it. Who's going to want to play another overhead run 'n gun after this? Anyone?

On the bright side, the play mechanics in Commando 3 are a marked improvement on the Rocketmen style. For one, it plays much faster -- the control is crisp and the action is fast. I'm also simultaneously overjoyed and frustrated by the fact that Capcom saw fit to bring back the original Commando's idea that putting secret areas in random places would be a good idea. That's right, in order to find all of the secret areas in the game, you pretty much have to toss grenades at every square inch of the map. There are some clues floating around that mark certain spots as more likely to have a secret area hidden beneath them, but some of them just feel utterly random in their placement. While I can appreciate the retro value of the randomly placed secrets, I can't help but wonder if something involving a puzzle or a clever clue would be a more satisfying way to hide a secret.

Fans of this type of game who haven't given Rocketmen: Axis of Evil a look yet will be in luck -- Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 is better, for a number of quantifiable reasons. Still, Rocketmen wore out its welcome a little bit quicker than I'd hoped, and I imagine that Commando 3 will do the same. Of course, downloading Commando 3 offers access to the Street Fighter 2 HD open beta, so there's value added on top of the fact that it's a better, if still flawed, game. If you're a fan of Commando and/or Mercs, you'll probably have a good time with the third entry in the series; if you're simply an overhead run 'n gunner who's starting to get a little burned out on your genre of choice, do yourself a favor and avoid it. You'll thank yourself later.

5
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.

Books

New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.

Music

Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.

Music

Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.

Music

New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.

Books

'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.

Music

Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.

Music

Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.

Music

M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.

Music

Parsonsfield Add Indie Pop to Their Folk on 'Happy Hour on the Floor'

Happy Hour on the Floor is a considerable departure from Parsonsfield's acclaimed rustic folk sound signaling their indie-pop orientation. Parsonsfield remind their audience to bestow gratitude and practice happiness: a truly welcomed exaltation.

Music

JARV IS... - "House Music All Night Long" (Singles Going Steady)

"House Music All Night Long" is a song our inner, self-isolated freaks can jive to. JARV IS... cleverly captures how dazed and confused some of us may feel over the current pandemic, trapped in our homes.

Music

All Kinds of Time: Adam Schlesinger's Pursuit of Pure, Peerless Pop

Adam Schlesinger was a poet laureate of pure pop music. There was never a melody too bright, a lyrical conceit too playfully dumb, or a vibe full of radiation that he would shy away from. His sudden passing from COVID-19 means one of the brightest stars in the power-pop universe has suddenly dimmed.

Music

Folkie Eliza Gilkyson Turns Up the Heat on '2020'

Eliza Gilkyson aims to inspire the troops of resistance on her superb new album, 2020. The ten songs serve as a rallying cry for the long haul.

Music

Human Impact Hit Home with a Seismic First Album From a Veteran Lineup

On their self-titled debut, Human Impact provide a soundtrack for this dislocated moment where both humanity and nature are crying out for relief.

Music

Monophonics Are an Ardent Blast of True Rock 'n' Soul on 'It's Only Us'

The third time's the charm as Bay Area soul sextet Monophonics release their shiniest record yet in It's Only Us.

Film

'Slay the Dragon' Is a Road Map of the GOP's Methods for Dividing and Conquering American Democracy

If a time traveler from the past wanted to learn how to subvert democracy for a few million bucks, gerrymandering documentary Slay the Dragon would be a superb guide.

Music

Bobby Previte / Jamie Saft / Nels Cline: Music from the Early 21st Century

A power-trio of electric guitar, keyboards, and drums takes on the challenge of free improvisation—but using primarily elements of rock and electronica as strongly as the usual creative music or jazz. The result is focused.

Books

Does Inclusivity Mean That Everyone Does the Same Thing?

What is the meaning of diversity in today's world? Russell Jacoby raises and addresses some pertinent questions in his latest work, On Diversity.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.