Commandos 2 is another in a long line of games that I pretty much suck at, but do enjoy. I remember playing it back in around 2003, a couple of years after its initial release. Like most real-time strategy games I’ve played it but didn’t progress all that competently through.
The HD remaster takes me back to the time I played the original. Taking everything that I remember and enjoyed and bring it to a modern system. However, some issues do come along with the HD remaster, especially when playing it on the Nintendo Switch’s portable mode.
There are the same issues you get with a lot of these types of games on the Switch. That is the tiny text effect. There are so many menus and options to wade through. Unfortunately, the developers here haven’t thought about this game being played in handheld. This shows early in the game. I found I was struggling to see what was needed to do for commands. This is fine for veterans, but those new to the genre and the game. Well, they will find it hard actually to understand what they need to do.
It may sound like I’m dumping on the game just because of one one ‘minor’ thing. Still, it is so bad. I needed to play the game on the big screen for the opening portion to get to grips with what the commands were—then feeling my way through in handheld afterwards, which is a massive shame because the concept of Commandos 2 in handheld works well. Being able to take my time, pausing, putting the Switch to sleep and then going back whenever I want. It is wonderful; however, that tiny text leaves an early sour taste.
It is the only Major gripe I do have with the game though. Once I did get to grips with the small text, I found a game that I really did enjoy playing. Feeling my way through early missions was a lovely experience. I didn’t get punished immediately for not understanding what I was doing and trying to learn. Something other strategy games can be guilty of.
Yes, there is technically a ‘right way’ to get through missions, yet the fact you can almost brute force your way through and get lucky really does help. It did for me anyway. Levels are very forgiving early on but are still challenging enough that you do need to think strategically to find a way through. Signposting is evident early in proceedings, but it works in a way that allowed me to get to grips with different character traits and their individual mechanics.
All of this is a massive credit to Commandos 2 because I have played games where it is expected that anyone who plays has a deep understanding of the game’s nuances. That isn’t how you get people on board. You don’t just assume that people can pick up your game and play it.
I get it, really, I do. It mat feel best if you played to your core audience, but there is also a need to make sure that you can get in new players. Turn those into future veterans of the game and the genre. Commandos 2 does this rather well.
So again it is to the credit of the developers of the original Commandos 2 and the remaster that it is an accessible game in terms of introducing you to mechanics and gradually ramping up the difficulty without being too alienating. Levels do get passively longer yet retain a feeling of manageable bite-sized chunks. This is compared to other games where you have to be invested for the huge amount of time with each session.
Commandos 2 is an HD remaster, but I did feel I need to go back and make a direct comparison to the 2001 original. It still looked a bit long in the tooth. Yet looking at the HD Remaster, the improvements they’ve made are night and day between the two games. The game is never going to win awards for art-direction, nor does it have genre-defining graphics. It remains something of its era. Commandos 2 HD Remaster is one of those remasters that provide you with the game that you remember in your mind and not what it actually looked like at the time.
Commandos 2 HD Remaster is definitely a game that you should be picking up if you played the original and enjoyed it. I don’t think there’s anything in here for newcomers especially as there are few mechanics that do feel of their time and the genre has moved on significantly in the past 20ish years. But that’s not to say that this game isn’t still fun and could be a cool little curio for those younger audiences.