A remastered double pack you say? You best believe it. We have been presented with the grand HD remaster of Commandos 2 and Praetorians, which most certainly will be a sight for sore eyes for some as they hold a nostalgic attachment for many who played the originals from back in the early 2000s. The pair have made a surprising yet unexpected appearance in an HD double pack not only for PC but for consoles also, with this being Praetorians first console appearance. Expect two old school RTS experiences as you make your way through set missions by conquering the enemy in the most careless approach presented to you. Be warned, the games definitely focus on the stealthy and thought-through approach being preferred, and sometimes needed, but feel free to try the all guns blazing/charge inwards approach – just don’t be surprised if you don’t get very far. I’m slightly contradicted as to whether the games are a little too dated for a remaster with other games having the same remaster treatment seeming to benefit more from the graphic updates as well as other features. With both titles being published by Kalypso Media and being developed by Yippee Entertainment (with Praetorians having Torus Games and Raylight Games also), the games are set apart with two completely different experiences in terms of story especially. Commandos 2 is set in authentic World War II scenarios, behind German enemy lines with a few specialist soldiers for missions whereas Praetorians is set in the Roman empire time period with larger groups of units, during Julius Caesar’s Campaign. Nostalgia may save these titles for some but whether they’re really for this day and age is debatable to me – and here is my opinion why.
What we liked!
- Engaging in-game mechanics (Commandos 2): As RTS games go, I thoroughly enjoyed the various mechanics this game has to offer for the age of the game. The defined details and layout of every level requires you to use the specialist units you’re given with their trained skills and combined expertise, equipment obtained when taking out your enemies, and various terrain, which can be used as hiding spots, at your disposal to complete the level. Obtain enemy uniforms, weapons, and miscellaneous items, climb and swing along cables to get to inaccessible areas, disarm landmines and utilize vehicles such as planes and ships. It does mean you need to take many elements into consideration while making your way through as one fatal error could cause any progress you’ve made to be short-lived and you may find yourself in an, especially sticky situation.
- Tactical approach or face the consequences (Commandos 2): Stealthy and calculated approaches are something I notably relish, especially when ‘going loud’ can make the biggest difference as to how your game plays out, doesn’t feel as rewarding and can ultimately make it feel like you’re playing an entirely different game, one you won’t be able to complete – I guarantee you. This game requires you to use a methodical and tactical approach to get the mission done by carefully analyzing your surroundings, enemies line of sight, and movement which gives you an indication on how to navigate from one area to another effectively and cautiously, using the most efficient path you can find with many on offer for you to peruse as you so wish.
- Nostalgic value – Without a doubt or any hesitation, I can definitely understand the nostalgic value of both games. Although I never played either of the originals, I have played rather similar games and therefore appreciate the old school RTS experiences both games have to offer in their own way. You may think that because they’re originally older titles that they won’t be as enjoyable however if like me you try and appreciate them for what they were, are, and have to offer, you will see them for the childhood gems they really are for many.
- Slow-paced gameplay: Due to the games being real-time strategy based, this means the overall feel of the games can feel sluggish at times. If you rush into the action without thinking of everything that could affect you advancing then you’re ultimately causing your own defeat. It’s what games like these are all about however if you lack patience and overall situational awareness then I wouldn’t suggest these games to you. I found it to be quite frustrating at times when you get the timing of your movements ever so slightly off and find yourself at the wrong end of the enemy’s guns without even having a moment to comprehend what just happened to your troops if you’re not careful enough.
- Manual saves highly recommended: With how quickly your games can both go wrong and potentially crash on you, it’s always advised to manually save regularly, like after every correct interaction you make if i’m being completely honest. The amount of times I’d get half-way through a mission and forget to save, have one of my units get spotted and then get annihilated only to have to restart from the beginning which can be off-putting in itself. Yeah, don’t be like me. I don’t feel like the games should be that cut or dry but being older games, there aren’t any checkpoints or auto-saving features available so be aware to save frequently.
- Old modes have returned (Praetorians): An element of Praetorians which I was happy to see make a reappearance was the skirmish and multiplayer modes. I have played other games with these modes included and found them thoroughly enjoyable. Unfortunately, I tried multiple times to get a multiplayer lobby started up but I was unable to find anyone to play with which was a disappointment. On the other hand, with the return of Skirmish mode, I was able to play what would have been the equivalent with some AI opponents instead of actual people and found the free-for-all gameplay entertaining as your task is to simply conquer the map and your foe’s forces to lead your forces to victory.
What we disliked
- Far from a good console port: Clunky controls make it hard to control what you’re doing, poor camera angles mean you often miss important information, interactions not registering or working can be fundamental when preventing a mission failure, appalling animations which just make you laugh and just about bearable controls – Do I need to say more? The negatives of both games just far outweigh the positive aspects. I really wanted to see both games at their full potential but it just wasn’t to be. Both games were made with a mouse in mind in the first place, with Commandos struggling to begin with when it was first brought to consoles a year after the primary PC release.
- Just too outdated: Apologies in advance to all those who loved the originals but with the current quality and advancement of games in the industry over the past twenty years, these just don’t belong as remasters, especially on consoles. Modern RTS games probably won’t have the same immersion that these two carry but today’s titles are just made to play and feel overall better when settling down to an enjoyable gaming session. Could they have done more to make the game feel less outdated? Sure. I would go as far as to say that they are both fully deserving and in need of a complete remake which in itself could make them lose their original appeal.
- Very Limited Remasters: Although both have been released as HD remasters, don’t let that fool you. The graphics have been slightly improved, the UI/hud and controls have been revamped for modern-day gaming to feel suitable for use on consoles and some of the models have been changed. However, with the positives comes the negatives with many noticeable issues. Although the games are functional, they just don’t live up to any high standards you may or may not have. I can imagine the PC version being perhaps slightly better overall to play and enjoy but as the games stand on console, I would not recommend these titles unless you have an attachment to the originals and feel the need to play them out on console.
As a double pack, I would say that Commandos 2 is still a difficult yet engaging title and Praetorians is somewhat hit and miss depending on if you can put up with its terrible feel, appearance and sound. I will be aiming to spend more time on both but overall, they just aren’t meant for consoles and should’ve been left back in the early 2000’s or had the remake treatment. Both show their age and with the poor controller setup and lack of graphic enhancements that have been incorporated, they just aren’t as engaging or fun as they were originally intended to be. The only time I would recommend purchasing this pack is if you are an avid fan of the old school Commandos franchise with the small addition of Praetorians alongside it if you should happen to try it out for yourself.
Hello, I’m Victoria. I’m from the UK and have been playing video games for as long as I can remember. I’ve pretty much mained Xbox since I was ten years old. Although I find it thoroughly enjoyable to not only experience gameplay, I also find comfort in getting lost and engrossed in the online worlds. Another side of my Xbox passion would be achievements. I thrive when I hear the little sound of one popping up on screen and I’m always finding ways to work on my Gamerscore.