Review: Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3

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Capcom’s old Commando game is a personal favorite from my youth. I remember playing it on my NES growing up and just having a ball (never did get to play the sequel Mercs though). Thusly, I’ve really been looking forward to seeing what Capcom had up its sleeve for the long-awaited third game, Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3, which launched earlier this month on the Xbox 360 Xbox Live Arcade and PS3 PlayStation Network.

It is with great sorrow, though, that I must report in with disappointing impressions of what Capcom and developer Backbone Entertainment put together here. Commando 3 is yet another top-down arcade shooter for the XBLA and PSN, a genre both digital download networks have their fair share of already, especially XBLA.

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As the game began, I was initially excited by what I saw. Graphically, the game has an appealing colorful style to it that immediately drew my eye and a humorous tone about it with its liberal spoofing of classic 80’s popcorn action flicks like Commando, Rambo and Missing in Action, particularly in the playable character designs, two of which clearly drew inspiration from the stars of said movies (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Chuck Norris, respectively). The gameplay started out quite entertaining, too. It plays like any top-down arcade shooter: charge forward, tilt the right analog stick to unleash hell on the waves of enemy soldiers attacking from all sides with a decent variety of weapons (machine gun, flamethrower, spread gun, rocket launcher, grenades, etc.), unload the occasional screen-clearing M-crash attack and wrack up some serious score combos.

But then after the first stage, the game almost instantaneously falls into a rut of “sameiness” and from there on out extreme boredom sets in. There’s just no variety or originality to hold your interest. The enemies, although changing in appearance as you progress, are the same from beginning to end (one of the bosses is even recycled for a second battle), and the stages never seem to put forth any unique challenges to distinguish one from another. Vehicles come available on occasion, too, but the controls are so atrocious it’s much easier to remain on foot than to hassle with the finicky vehicular navigation.

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But worst of all, the game is woefully short, even for an arcade game. A measly five stages that collectively take no more than 45 minutes to complete is all you get for your $10. Three-player multiplayer action adds on maybe a bit more replay value, but not as much as you’d expect given how badly the online component suffers from game-breaking bugs. For example, in this one round I got into, my character all of a sudden lost his ability to shoot. I’d tilt the analog stick every which way, but no gunfire would come out. So of course for the remainder of the game I was reduced to running alongside the other two players tossing the occasional grenade to help out because that’s all I could do. Yeah, that was a real fun experience. There are other smaller problems too, like the grenade-throwing mechanic randomly deciding not to work properly so your grenades launch directly opposite of where you are aiming, or your character continuing to move forward, usually into groups of enemies, when an M-crash splash screen is activated.

The only saving grace Commando 3 really has going for it is the provided Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix beta access, well for XBLA users that is. But is maybe an hour’s worth of gameplay and access to a beta test really worth shelling out ten bucks (or 800 Microsoft Points) for? Honestly, I can’t say that it is in this instance unless you are simply the most diehard Street Fighter fan craving early access to SSFIITHDR. My recommendation? Forget all about Commando 3 and start saving up for Capcom’s surefire redemption, Bionic Commando Rearmed. No way is that game going to be anything but classic.

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Pros:
+ Graphics and spoofy style are appealing
+ XBLA version comes with the SSFIITHDR beta and some decent achievements

Cons:
– Woefully short and lacking in replay value
– Buggy multiplayer
– Broken vehicle controls

Game Info:
Platform: Reviewed on XBLA, also available on PSN
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Backbone Entertainment
Release Date: PSN – 6/5/08, XBLA – 6/11/08
Genre: Arcade Shooter
Players: 1-3, local and online play

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!