Commandos: Beyond the Call of Duty

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Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines was a unique entry into the computer gaming arena and it was one of my favorite strategy games released last year. A spit in the face to most RTS games which generally favor building the largest army possible to crush the opposition, Commandos put you in control of an Allied special forces squad working behind enemy lines during World War II.

Action was replaced by patience and, instead of overwhelming the enemy (an impossible feat since you were outnumbered by more than twenty to one in most missions), Commandos stressed real strategy and puzzle solving in order to complete your mission objectives and get your operatives out alive.

The semi-sequel, Commandos: Beyond the Call of Duty (BtCoD), expands on the original Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines and does a good job continuing the lineage. As gameplay follows pretty much the same track as the original, I encourage you read the Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines review if you're not familiar with the franchise. And if you've already played Commandos: Behind Enemy lines, then I encourage you to read on, because BtCoD may be a game that you won't want to miss.

The entire cast from the original return in the BtCoD. There's Tiny the Green Beret, Duke the sniper, Fins the Marine, Inferno the sapper, Tread the driver and Spooky the spy. But BtCoD expands the line-up with Dragisa Skopje, a Yugoslavian Partisan, and Lips, a sexy Dutch Resistance fighter. These new operatives act as allies, not true commandos, and cannot perform nearly as many actions as the original team. But they do provide useful roles in a few of the missions.

Dragisa can throw both lit cigarettes and stones, causing German soldiers to leave their posts and investigate the disturbance. The aptly named Lips can distract enemy soldiers by applying lipstick, allowing the other members of your team to sneak past. In addition, Lips can also use the lit cigarette trick and also packs a pistol for situations that require less subtlety.BtCoD also adds quite a few new skills, actions and items to your arsenal. In addition to the cigarette pack, stones and lipstick, Tiny (with his fists), Tread (with a blackjack) and Spooky (with chloroform) can now knock German soldiers unconscious and then Tiny or Spooky can use handcuffs to either render the soldier immobile or to control his actions.

You have to keep the soldier in your line of sight lest he run off and alert the guards, but this new feature can be particularly handy when you have to operate a lever that is surrounded by guards. You can also use these controlled soldiers to distract other equal or lower-ranking troops. In similar fashion, instead of having to search for an enemy uniform like in the original, Spooky can simply take the uniform off of unconscious soldiers and use it to deceive equal or lower-rank troops. On the more deadly end of things, Tread now has a long-range rifle which, although it has unlimited ammo, makes a lot of noise when fired alerting guards to your presence.

These new items open up a whole different set of puzzle solving and it will take a while for veteran players to figure out exactly which combination of skills should be used in particular situations.As BtCoD runs through the end of World War II in Europe, all of the missions are geared toward the close of the war and the push into Berlin. There are only eight missions, but they are much more involved than the original, with larger maps and more soldiers. And, if you can actually believe it, the missions are harder than in Behind Enemy Lines.

Assignments run the gambit from rescuing your agents from a German prison camp to retrieving secret documents from a German official using a bit of sexual intrigue to destroying a few experimental planes at a German airfield.The same problems that were apparent in the original persist in BtCoD. The missions are extremely linear in design and, once you figure out how to get through them, there's not much point in playing the game again. But given the difficulty off the game, it's going to take some time a patience to finish this one. The solutions to several of the puzzles in BtCoD hang in your head and will often come to you when you're far away from your computer.

If you're the kind of person who likes a real challenge, you'll appreciate that Pyro has uped the difficulty in BtCoD. But if you're the kind of gamer who gives up after a few, then you're not going to like this one.Like the original, BtCoD supports up to six players in multiplay, with each player able to control one agent in cooperative gameplay. There's even a tutorial mode for you newbies to hone your skills before entering the actual game.In the end, BtCoD is not much different than Behind Enemy Lines. But if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Pyro has expanded on their original idea in this stand alone expansion pack, offering up another helping of unique gameplay that's challenging even to the most seasoned strategy veteran. It just leaves me wondering what the real sequel to Commandos might be like.

System Requirements

OS: Windows XP/ Vista/ 7
CPU:Pentium 166MHz Processor
Graphics: 1MB SVGA Card (100% DirectX 6.1 Compliant)
DirectX: 6.1 or Higher
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