Review – Commandos 2 HD Remaster

Commandos 2: Men of Courage was originally released in the beginning of the millennium. Back at the peak of popularity for the real-time tactics genre, thanks to franchises like Total War, Close Combat, Sudden Strike, and of course, Commandos. It was a hard-as-nails mix between a stealth title and a real-tactics game with one hell of a learning curve. in which even the simplest tutorial mission could be ruthless if you weren’t paying attention to the few instructions you were given, as well as the enemy AI, which is impressive to this day. Perseverant players would eventually be greeted by a complex but rewarding game once they were accustomed with the gameplay.

Almost twenty years after its original release, Commandos 2 is back with a fresh remaster, courtesy of Kalypso, Pyro Studios, and Yippee Entertainment. A good appetizer for the upcoming Commandos sequel or just another remaster better left forgotten? Let’s find out.

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These backdrops look stunning. These faces, on the other hand…

I’ve played a handful of strategy game remasters over the years that were more than just visual upgrades over the originals. The Age of Empires II remaster from last year is the best example of them all. Not only did it turn a game from twenty years ago into one of the most gorgeous modern strategy games I can think of, but also included a few new quality of life improvements in its gameplay department to make it more intuitive and pleasant to play like never before. Commandos 2 HD Remaster doesn’t bring that many improvements in this regard, but that doesn’t mean its gameplay has aged poorly. Surely, it’s hard, but that’s because it wants to be hard. It wants to be a very complex game with a steep learning curve.

With that in mind, I can’t criticize the lack of substantial changes to the gameplay that much. There is a revamped UI, sure, but it’s still a bit unintuitive and I ended up having a better time memorizing hotkeys than relying on the confusing icons on the right side of the screen. The game’s camera rotation is still a bit clunky and there were a few framerate drops here and there, but all in all, Commandos 2 HD Remaster plays as well as it should. In fact, most of the improvements in here are more visual than technical, and I’m fine with that.

Yippee Entertainment and Pyro Studios did a great job improving Commandos 2‘s graphics and resolution to more modern standards. The game is now presented in a 16:9 aspect ratio, with noticeably improved textures, character animations, and some excellent brand new particle effects, with special regards to the game’s brand new explosion effects. While these aspects have been improved to a point that they can be compared to more modern games like Disco Elysium, there is one aspect in which Commandos 2 HD Remaster can’t hide its “mid-budget 2000’s game” roots: facial animations. They are still cartoonish and somewhat poorly animated. They reminded me a lot of the facial animations from another smaller European game from the 2000’s, the Syberia games. The game also retains underwhelming voice performances, just like they were nineteen years ago.

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“We’re gonna do one thing and one thing only!”

You’ll need to understand that you’re playing a game from many years ago, when strategy games were a lot more ruthless and less forgiving than nowadays. Back then, even a tutorial would feature challenging sections and little hand-holding. If you understand these setbacks, as well as some clunky technical features, you’ll most certainly have a good time with Commandos 2 HD Remaster. It is not the most impressive HD remaster of a strategy game I’ve ever seen, but it’s a great way to relive a cherished strategy series while we wait for the upcoming Commandos sequel, also being published by Kalpyso.

 

Graphics: 7.5

The remastered environments look fine enough, with special regards to the explosion effects. So do the character animations, even though they did age a bit. The facial animations and in-game cutscenes on the other hand, have aged poorly, retaining an overall “cheap 2000’s PC game” vibe.

Gameplay: 7.5

You’ll definitely need to pay attention to the tutorials, as the amount of actions you can perform in this game can be overwhelming at first. Once you manage to memorize them though, you’ll be greeted with a very complex and intuitive stealth system, especially considering the game is almost twenty years old.

Sound: 6.5

The soundtrack itself might not be the most iconic among World War II games, but it’s still pretty good. The voice acting has aged poorly, however.

Fun Factor: 7.5

It’s a game from many years ago that definitely does not hold your hand. You may feel intimidated at first, but once you get a hold of all the mechanics at your disposal, you’ll have a good time with it.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Commandos 2 HD Remaster is available now on PC.

Reviewed on PC.

A copy of Commandos 2 HD Remaster was provided by the publisher.