It takes a fair amount of guts to release a game like Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 in this day and age. Every single aspect of this game just yells out 1990 at best, and yet here it is on next-gen consoles like a shining beacon of years gone by. Everything from the control scheme to the clown car-like buildings that spew an endless stream of enemies until destroyed; this game has just about every dated gameplay convention ever made. Heck, you can't even scroll the screen back the way you came after advancing forward. You can almost hear cavemen beating on stones inside the console as you play this game, and yet it's what every game strives to be - fun.
Sure, the storyline is just a flimsy pretense to string a series of levels together all in the name of blowing somebody up. But so long as you're enjoying yourself, is that really so bad? Many games these days get so caught up in themselves that they forget the simple pleasures, and that's where Commando succeeds. While many will see it as being overly simple, there is something to be said for simplicity.
Players will pick one of three characters, each with their differing stats in health, speed and grenade power. You will then control them through five stages full of insane amounts of gunfire, explosions and big bad enemies with only a few weapons at your disposal. First you've got the basic machine gun, controlled by using the right analog stick. This can be upgraded several times or switched out for other, more spectacular weapons, each best suited for particular scenarios. Second you've got your five grenades, which are flung in an overhead arc and are great for flushing out enemies from behind their invincible sandbag cover. Finally, there's the limited M-Crash, which are screen clearing, highly limited special moves.
Wait… Invincible sandbags but destructible buildings? These bad guys should sue their construction company.
Vehicle segments were seemingly thrown in to break up the monotony or to put you in an on-rails type segment for a few moments, but the game always returns to its core game play. When you have good mechanics, why trifle with it?
Things can be a bit dicey thanks to a few peculiar issues, however. While the game has a crisp and almost anime look to it thanks to the cel-shaded graphics, it isn't really pushing the graphical boundaries of any system it's appearing on. Yet for some reason, you will encounter an odd amount of slowdown, not when you're being attacked from eight different sides by dozens of enemies, but seemingly at random. It's almost as if certain stages just have segments where slowdown occurs just because it wants to.
Another somewhat annoying thing is the lack of music and sound. Other than the sounds of explosions and gunshots, there isn't all that much to the game. The music is forgettable and understated when it's even present, and acts more as a footnote in the game play than an enhancement like it should.
You will also encounter a few issues when playing the game online. There's very little lag to speak of but you will encounter slowdown thanks to the oodles of bullets and enemies occupying the screen. While you could consider it expected, it doesn't really happen when playing local multiplayer so it comes off as a bit odd.
There is however a big issue with the M-Crash special attacks when playing online. Normally when you perform this move you will freeze the action on-screen, but this cannot happen without it being jarring to the other online player. When you perform this maneuver online, your character will keep moving in a straight line in the direction that you were moving, causing quite a few issues. While this has been addressed in a recent update to the game on the Xbox 360, it's still a noticeable problem on the PS3 version of the game. Regardless, it's not a deal breaker but you're far better off playing with local friends than going online with it.
Commando 3 is a great addition to your gaming library if you're aware of its merits and its faults before purchasing it. Those of us who grew up playing games like Total Carnage and Victory Road will find this game to be an enthralling blast from the past. But if your ego gets bruised easily, you may want to pass on this one. Dying isn't just something that happens every so often in this game, it's a way of life.