"Commando is a completely generic clone of the Metal Slug blueprint, giving us nothing new, except for its own unique list of problems. "
Commando: Steel Disaster wants to be Metal Slug – and it doesn’t try to hide it. It’s a smart, if shameful endeavour, given that the Metal Slug canon hovers at around ten strong and commands quite the cult following. You should expect the same brand of fast-paced, side-scrolling shooting action, as you take control of Storm, “a highly skilled soldier” (or so the back of the box tells us).
Skilled though Storm may be, he is inexplicably unable to shoot diagonally upwards. Why run-and-gun shooters continue to handicap their heroes so is beyond my understanding. If Storm manages to secure the right weapon, he can fire diagonally upwards as long as that weapon lasts him, which won’t be long (though he can never shoot diagonally downwards). There are the usual grenade launcher, machine gun and rocket launcher weapons on offer, and Storm can leap about, roll, and toss grenades – useful when up against mini-tanks or blockades providing enemies with cover from your fire.
Regrettably, Commando is a completely generic clone of the Metal Slug blueprint, giving us nothing new, except for its own unique list of problems. Trite dialog between characters precedes each level and is so bad, one wonders why they even bothered. The areas are comprised of multiple stages, sort of like 1-1, 1-2 and so on, although they are not labeled as such. But should you die at what is ostensibly level 1-4 – at the boss encounter – you’ll be displaced back to the title screen where your only option will be to have another go at level 1-1.
That’s right. There are no checkpoints within the areas, Storm only has one life, and there are no ‘continues’ to speak of. In Commando’s defense, Storm does have 100 points of vitality to work with, there are medkits available throughout the environs, and there is a continue option available to you should you manage to actually finish the area you’re working on, yet the odds are still not in your favour.
This is not to say the game is inordinately difficult; it’s manic, but it’s mostly fair, and the controls are spot on. The frustration arises when you meet up with boss for the first time and are more than likely dispatched in short order. It’s back to the drawing board for you, and that’s just inexcusable. This isn’t 1988. Unnecessary repetition kills games these days – or hasn’t developer ManaSoft heard?
If Commando: Steel Disaster is any indication, I suppose not. Sadly, despite some good graphics, decent sounds and temptingly mindless shoot-em-up action, the average gamer will consider this a throwaway. I can only see hardcore fans of the Metal Slug games and its ilk bothering to grant Steel Disaster more than a cursory play through. And even then, probably not for long: the unspectacular and provincial nature of this Metal Slug rip-off doesn’t warrant enduring the frustration that progress in it elicits.
Staff review by Marc Golding (October 22, 2008)
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