It seems lately that the only way to experience the battles of World War II are to engage in a first person shooter such as Call of Duty or Medal of Honor. I, for one, am a big fan of these types of games, and love playing them. They are very immersive, and usually quite difficult to master.
But for some, the twitch gaming experience that these games often deliver is not what floats their boat, so to speak. Many are looking for a more cerebral experience, yet still want the action of these other games. For a number of years now, Windows users have had access to a game series that did just this, and did it quite well. Commandos is a series of games that uses a top-down isometric view to display its action. However, you are not running around shooting madly at Nazis left and right. Commandos is all about stealth, strategy, and surprise.
Now, after many months of waiting since Feral's initial announcement, the Macintosh faithful receive the latest two installments of this series in the Commandos Battle Pack: Commandos 2: Men of Couragem and Commandos 3: Destination Berlin. While it would have been nice to also include the original Commandos game in the pack, the fact that gamers are receiving two full games, and not simple expansions, for the price of one is quite impressive itself.
The Commandos games, for those who have not played them before, are action-strategy games that do an excellent job of capturing the atmosphere of a World War II movie, as opposed to taking the approach of modern games and capturing the bloody reality. If you like films like "The Great Escape" and "The Dirty Dozen", then the Commandos games' take on World War II will be right up your alley. For those who loved "Band of Brothers" and "Saving Private Ryan", Commandos is a refreshing change of pace. Instead of being composed of wet-behind-the-ears privates, your squad is composed of your stereotypical rough-and-tumble types: cigar-chomping sergeants and sneaky, stealthy spec-ops. The missions, while contrived, are fun adventure-laden romps through cinematic history. Even the titles of some of the missions from Commandos 2 seem to realize the humor in it all, from "The Guns of Savo Island" to "Saving Private Smith" to "Bridge Over the River Kwai."
Missions in both games are well laid out and have a wide range of objectives, from simple elimination of enemies to rescuing imprisoned personnel to demolition. At the beginning of each mission, you are given a detailed briefing covering all primary objectives. Each mission has secondary objectives that can make completing the primary objectives much easier, such as taking out gun placements or neutralizing enemy personnel. While early missions can often be completed fairly easily with only a couple of tries, later missions become quite complex and difficult to complete, often requiring precise timing between your squad members, and numerous retries to get right. With some games this would be a strike against it, and with some people it still might be. But I like the idea that it will often take more than an itchy trigger finger to get your men through a mission.