DOWNLOAD THEM FROM XBLA OR PSN FOR:
10 Bucks/800 Points
PLATFORM: Xbox 360, PS3

ESRB RATING: T
DEVELOPER: Backbone Entertainment

PUBLISHER: Capcom
 

THE PITCH


“Two classic shooters reborn! Well, one classic shooter and one rightfully forgotten one!”

Consider these sequels to those old games. 1942 is much more faithful to the original 194X series, while Commando 3 is more of a revamp. Both are done by Backbone Entertainment and it shows, as the execution of both are remarkably similar.



There’s basically nothing in the way of story for either title, and there doesn’t need to be, if they were well done shooters. But are they?

  


THE PLAY
 


1942: Joint Strike-

This game controls and plays exactly as it should… you shoot your way through wave after wave of enemy planes and try to avoid their bullets. You can shoot bullets, missiles, and a big bomb that clears the screen of enemies. You get a multiplier bonus for getting close to enemies as you shoot them- up to a 16X combo. At the end of every stage there’s a big boss battle. But the basic tactic is- keep shooting! Be prepared to wear your right thumb down from jamming the button…

It really is an old school shooter through and through. It’s all about repetition and memorizing the enemies’ attack patterns, which should determine if this would be fun for you at all. It’s not terribly difficult but it’ll take you at least a few playthroughs to get by all the levels. (of which there are only 5). The enemies range from simple ships to the expected gigantic metal behemoths that take up half the screen and fill up the other half with bullets. But even at the hardest difficulty there should be no problem getting to the end; all the harder difficulties do is limit the amount of lives you have. Somewhat disappointing.



2 player is fun (you can perform that titular Joint Strike together for massive damage), but as this is the kind of game that takes hard work to get through, don’t expect to have your buddy just jump in it with you and survive. It’s only going to be fun if you have another hardcore shooter fan to play with, or find someone online.

It’s interesting that the last shooter released for XBLA is a perfect example of the way shooters have changed over the years (evolved, if you will). Each time you boot that game up you have no idea what you’re in for. With random enemies appearing and behaving differently each time it allows you to play on a much twitchier level. You have to feel the game, be a part of it. With a shooter like 1942 you have to dominate it, to learn its tricks and beat it down into submission. I’m beginning to much prefer the new type of shooters but there’s still a large place in my heart for the old school. Fun for those who put the time into it, even if there’s not much to it.

Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3:

This is a similar shooter, but it’s lacking in fun. The game is done in a cartoony style, as seems to be all the rage these days. You’ve got 3 characters to play as, which feels like a real throwback. You’ve got the average All-American soldier, the big burly hairy guy with lots of health, and the fast and weak female. All control the same way, which are more of what you’d expect from a downloadable shooter- you use the left analog stick to move and right stick to shoot. The right trigger throws grenades and the left is a screen-clearing special move.



The aspect of the game that keeps it from being fun? The enemies are C-H-E-A-P. How cheap? Well, they can shoot through obstacles that you can’t, their bullets travel much farther (and are hidden away by particle effects in some levels- I’m looking at you, Level 2) and they respawn out of nowhere. So many times you’ll clear a dead end and turn around to go back to the main path only to get shot in the back. It’s pretty infuriating.

So much so that you’re more likely to not want to try and beat the game again. There’s nothing worse than a shooter that kills you for things you can’t control.

THE PRESENTATION
 
The environments in both games are very bland, and it’s rare when you run across a building or structure that’s destructible. Not much interaction plus not much going on in the background makes for some boring stages. The characters in Commando might be well animated for all I know, but they’re so tiny you can hardly see them.

Both games have the exact same menu system. They also share some very mediocre and bland music, unfortunately. Here’s a tip- pick up the absolutely amazing Bionic Commando Rearmed Soundtrack and pipe it in through your system- it works much, much better.
 

THE REPLAY

 

Shooters are built around replay value, and these don’t really disappoint in that regard. It won’t take you long to beat either one once you’ve got the nuances down (probably about a half hour hour each from start to finish) but it’ll take you hours to get there in the first place. As long as you don’t mind playing the same thing over and over you’ll have plenty of replay here.



The online and offline multiplayer helps keep things fresh, as well. Commando 3 supports an extra player over 1942 (3 players!), but of course it’s not nearly as fun.
 


THE VERDICT


Of the two, 1942 is the clear victor here, but there could have been so much more done for these games. With so many great shooters already available for download (and a new Bionic Commando just released) these are really only recommended for fans of the originals.
 

1942: Joint Strike- 7.5 out of 10

Wolf of the Battlefield- Commando 3- 5.5 out of 10