You know you’re in for over-the-top, Expendables-level carnage when a game’s box art features a smirking grunt who somehow totes a gat larger than his upper body with just one hand. Such is Commando: Steel Disaster, a 2D run-and-gunner that, very much like a digital Diddy, “samples” heavily from SNK Playmore’s beloved military action franchise, but mucks up the affair with shortsighted gameplay.
Let’s not pussyfoot here: Commando: Steel Disaster is a blatant Metal Slug clone. This is evident from the moment you pop the cart into the Nintendo DS: Commando: Steel Disaster‘s sprites, like the characters in SNK Playmore’s aforementioned five-star series, are cartoony takes on the hell-on-earth that is war (complete with dark outlines and heavy shading), but without the hyper-animation and creativity. Think of it as the direct-to-DVD sequel of your favorite action movie all time (such as rumored future Expendable Wesley Snipes’ The Detonator).
Commando: Steel Disaster stars Storm, who’s described on the back of the box as being “a highly skilled soldier,” waging a one man war against the villainous “Rattlesnake,” a madman with aims of ruling the world. It’s a run-and-gunner – - that’s all you need, idnit?
There’s abundant firepower to escort Rattlesanke’s henchmen to hell. Flamethrowers, machine guns, and rocket launchers are plentiful, but you better hold on to the good guns and use your limited supply of grenades wisely. Storm’s standard issue piece isn’t very powerful, and doesn’t allow you to shoot diagonally. If that doesn’t sound aggravating enough, here’s another talking point: Commando: Steel Disaster is hard for all the wrong reasons.
The game features just five levels, but they are long. Looooooong. Take level one, for instance. There’s a tough tank battle there that would be a mid-level mini-boss encounter in any other action game. In Commando: Steel Disaster, that fight is merely 1/5 of the way through the level. Make sure to blast open crates to keep your health and body armor up to snuff, or you won’t have the honor of seeing level two. Commando: Steel Disaster is an endurance, and patience, test.
In fact, level one is so long that it took me two hours to complete it, due to length and cheap game design. Off-screen enemies obliterate you with their weaponry before you see them, and if that isn’t frustrating enough, the teleporting robo-ninjas (which kinda-sorta resemble Grey Fox from Metal Gear Solid) appear out of nowhere to drain your life. Oh, did I mention that there are no checkpoints? And that you only get one life? Still interested?
To be perfectly fair, Commando: Steel Disaster is a somewhat decent title. The explosions are big, controls are tight, and action should prove suitable for fans of the genre. Still, I have to question Manasoft’s one life/no checkpoint/super-long level design; it seems like it was done to artificially lengthen play time of the scant five levels. Sado-masochist gamers will drool over the title, but those that haven’t cut their teeth on the Metal Slugs and Contras of the world should pass.
You can buy Commando: Steel Disaster at Amazon.com for $39.23.