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Commandos – Behind Enemy Lines Resolution Fix

Note: Both Commandos - Behind Enemy Lines (BEL) and Commandos - Beyond The Call Of Duty (BTCOD) (Plus a crapload of other versions, see below!) are supported!

Unofficial STEAM support:
Scroll to the bottom and find the comment by Tonelotto with instructions on how to get it going.

You can also use this patch to carry out the Locale hack described here.

Skip straight to the bottom of this post if you just want the application!

An Introduction to the game

A friend and I recently stumbled across the Commandos Ammo Pack ('Behind Enemy Lines' and it's expansion pack 'Beyond The Call Of Duty') at Good Old and we just couldn't resist downloading it. It did cost US$5.99, but that's absolutely chicken feed when compared to the awesomness of this game.

It's an old game, created in 1999, and could handle resolutions up to 1024x768 for single player; but for multiplayer the resolution was fixed at 640x480. I google'd around a little and saw that one person on a forum had created the Mysoft - Commandos Loader v0.8 which seemed to hoist the application in to memory and then hacked around with variables. I wasn't sure this was the best method and had the main Commandos EXE in IDA Free before too long.

I'd read that it used DirectDraw/3D and started searching for the appropriate functions. Before long I had the AdjustWindowRectEx, DirectDrawCreate and other functions under the microscope. I then opened the EXE up in OllyDbg and started slapping breakpoints everywhere. Before long I'd noticed the pattern:

push    10h
push    1E0h
push    280h

This seemed to be popping up everywhere and co-incidently 280h x 1E0h = 640x480 pixels... the default for the game. I then found code that set the resolution based on those shown in the video settings menu and then the game was doing what I told it.

commandos-512-384 commandos-1024-768 commandos-1680-quit

After a little more google'ing I found that someone else had already gotten to this point. Ferdinand had the hacks there to change the resolutions, but did not have the final piece to ensure that re-loading the game brought the resolution back.

After a little more disassembling I found that the resolution was being loaded at startup from a file on disk... this turned out to be "COMANDOS.CFG" in My Documents. The exact line from the config was:


From the config it was obvious that the game was using 'index 2' from the resolution list. Of course, it also meant that it knew how to decipher that '2' to a real resolution from the list in the code. After a little forward and reverse searching from the file loading to the resolution setting I came to the switch statement in the code which had the values hard-coded. I now had 3 points per resolution setting in the code that needed to be changed if I was to write my own utility.

Commandos Resolution Hack Alpha 1

I hadn't liked anything that was already available to do this and so I chose to wrote my own. The application loaded the EXE into memory, read out the resolutions stored, audited that they were all in sync and then allowed the user to select a new resolution per slot. If the resolutions weren't the same then you would get a warning, but this would have been corrected on the next resolution hack.

commandos-file-selection commandos-resolution-hack

This worked fine, but I found it pointless to specify four separate resolutions when you only really needed to specify one. I was more in for the challenge of allowing all four to change, rather than the practicality.

Testing and more bugs

So, it all worked... I then closed the game, re-opened it and found that it loaded up at 1024x768 instead of the 1680x1050 resolution I had set. I closed it again and looked at the configuration file; the setting had indeed changed back to '2' instead of '4'... but I hadn't touched it! I then loaded the game again and it was back to 1680x1050... closing and opening brought it back to 1024x768... the flip-flop continued.

So... what did this seem to mean? I had overlooked the storage of the resolution configuration. If the indexed resolution was read from the file, then it would have to be written back as an index. I went back in to the disassembler and searched for anything relating to writing 'SIZE' into the configuration file. The logic in the game was then obvious: it carried out an "if less than X but greater than Y" across the 'stock' resolutions and then stored the relevant index. This complicated my approach and confirmed that I really should only bother adjusting the 'fourth' resolution in the list. There was no point allowing the user to re-order the resolutions as this code then wouldn't work. The fourth resolution would need to be the only one customisable and the value must be greater than the third resolution at 800x600.

Commandos Resolution Hack Alpha 2

So, with this in mind, I wound the application down to just editing one resolution that had to be higher than 800x600. This meant that the internal configuration saving would work and the user would just have to select the final resolution in the list. Note that this only affected single player... the multi player resolution would still be a separate setting.


Everything was now working great... except the drawing issues above 1024 resolutions...

Drawing bugs

So, the game obviously wasn't meant to be played with a horizontal resolution greater than 1024 pixels; rendering artifacts started appearing when higher resolutions were used. Fortunately, the game is quite dynamic when it comes to rendering the screen and menus. Trawling through the code I could see that it was trying to find a BMP that matched the resolution, even using the resolution as the file name. Ferdinand had also worked this out and even has a list of assets downloadable for higher resolutions.

Commandos stores all of its graphical assets in a file named 'WARGAME.DIR' and references this when the game loads. I started looking into modifying this file via my program but realised it would be wuite a task to decipher and re-pack. Fortunately, some clever fellows across the world have created the necessary tools to extract these files. DirExtractor allows us to expand the DIR files and, once in the Commandos directory, the game itself will actually use the extracted versions if you remove the WARGAME.DIR file. This then meant that I could use my app to call DirExtractor, extract the files and then modify them where required to ease the majority of graphical glitches.

commandos-1680-resolutions commandos-1680-menu commandos-1680-loading

Required Graphical Modifications

  • A single change to the fourth resolution string in DATOS\MISIONES\GLOBAL.STR to whatever the custom resolution has been set to. This can be found by searching for the token OVI4 and then replacing the string following.
  • The creation of the menu background. This has to be a Bitmap file named MENU####.BMP where the #### is the horizontal resolution of the screen.
  • Build a WAD file for the game-play interface. This WAD is named via the resolution (i.e. 1024X768.WAD) and contains values that tell the game how to render the interface. I created a one-size-fits-all file that ensures that the graphics are wide/long enough for the screen resolutions (max 1920x1920) and the application simply renames the file and ensures that it is available to the game.

A final glitch

There was only one drawing issue remaining after this... any resolution over 1400 meant that maps thinner than the overall monitor width would not re-draw the areas that they could not cover. You can see this in the following screen shots.


Fortunately you can press '+' and '-' in-game to zoom in and out. What this meant was that the user could stop the map from clipping by adjusting the zoom. I took this as a suitable workaround at the time.



Smeared resolution?

It seems that some laptop resolutions are a little out-of-whack. I previously had a Samsung Ultranote with resolution of 1366x768, but windows reported that it could also run at a resolution of 1360x768.

It turns out that if you choose the wrong one (although it may seem the right one if that's your current windows resolution) that you'll get the following display:



Simple fix: Try another resolution... it'll work eventually!

And you thought it was going to be this easy?

So, I had the app working great for the modification of the GOG version of the EXE. It turns out that there are many more versions in the wild. It also gets worse as there is another patch here that fixes up a whole lot of other issues in the game. Fortunately it seems that the EXE from the above link is the exact same as the EXE from GOG? Either way, I've tested it and my hack works on it perfectly.

Due to the above, I started a list of EXEs for the game and then began deciphering them (as I knew the basic items to change) to allow my application to work with them.

Items in bold are those that come from

Game Version File Size Supported
Commandos - BEL Demo 2,452,992 bytes Works..
Commandos - BEL German v1.0 2,469,376 bytes Works, Asks for CD (Language issues, I'd imagine)
Commandos - BEL Spanish v1.0 2,469,376 bytes Works?
Commandos - BEL Spanish v1.05 2,469,888 bytes Works?
Commandos - BTCOD Spanish ? 2,696,600 bytes Works?
'Sold Out' v1.1 2,479,104 bytes Works fine. Speed issues with game (known issue) Ammo Pack v1.1 3,715,072 bytes Works perfectly!
Commandos Ultimate Fix v1.1 3,715,072 bytes Works perfectly!
Commandos - Beyond the call of duty ? 3,133,440 bytes Works perfectly!
Commandos - BEL Russian ? 2,470,400 bytes Works fine. Speed issues with game (known issue)
Commandos - BTCOD Russian ? 2,968,576 bytes Works fine. Speed issues with game (known issue)
Commandos - SINP v2.3 2,482,688 bytes Works perfectly.
Commandos - SINP Chinese v2.3 2,313,216 bytes Does not write out chosen resolution to configuration file. You should only change the resolution via this hack!

My application was then built to determine the EXE via file size (of course, this isn't fool-proof) and then hack appropriately.

Commandos - Beyond The Call Of Duty

So, this was just an update to the main game... turns out the code was slightly different, but still workable with my current program structure. After about 6 hours debugging all was working! Enjoy!



Commandos Hack v1.2

The final release contains the following features:

  • Support for all versions known above. (Note that the Demo and German versions don't actually save their configs to disk; we therefore hack the initial startup resolution.)
  • Resolution list options based on monitor capabilities.
  • Both EXE and WARGAME.DIR are backed up.
  • A one-size-fits-all menu background has been included.
  • German file encoding is preserved when the text is changed.
  • Resolution menu text shows the selected resolution.
  • Compatibility mode now checked to allow proper resolution and disable scaling.
  • The Locale hack from here has also been added.


Note: You need .NET Framework 4.0 to run this, download it here.

Download the application here.
And you can also download the .NET source code here.

Meanwhile, if you got a lot out of this app, then feel free to donate!

And that's a wrap... go use every pixel your monitor can produce and play the game!