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Star Command

For: iPad   Also on: Android, iPhone

You took your time

Product: Star Command | Publisher: War Balloon Games | Format: iPad | Genre: Casual, Strategy | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Star Command iPad, thumbnail 1
I don't want to dwell too much on what Star Command isn't. It might not be the game we've all been hoping for, and it might lack a lot of the features originally promised, but you can't judge something on what might have been.

What it is is a fun, often engaging space opera that's punctuated by bouts of intergalactic violence. It's simple, and it lacks any hook sharp enough to sink itself into you too deep, but there's still fun to be had meeting interesting new species and firing your lasers at them.

Cling ons

Star Command is a game of two parts. First you're building up your ship, adding new rooms, and recruiting the crew to keep everything running smoothly. Adding crew members to a room assigns them a role.

So crew members that go in the gunnery rooms become red shirts. They'll fire your space cannons and repel invaders. Yellow shirts are your engineers and blue shirts are your medics. Everyone plays a part in the running of the ship as well as in the bursts of violence.

It's a nice way of making sure you know what everyone does and means when things get panicky during an alien invasion you're definitely sending the right people to do the right jobs.

The currency in the game is tokens. There are red ones, yellow ones, and blue ones, and these are spent on recruiting crew members, building new rooms in your ship, and upgrading the equipment in them. You collect them in the other part of the game - the fights.

Full cans

Here you have to defend your craft from attack both external and internal. Bombs and bad guys get teleported in and you need to deal with them, all the while firing your hull weapons when they're ready.

The actions your various crew members can perform, from blasting alien scum with bolts of energy to putting out fires with welding torches and spanners, all have a circle of effect, so you need to move them around the ship to where they're most effective.

As you play they'll gain experience, getting better at the appointed tasks. Swapping and changing the roles of your crew makes for a better rounded team and means when one of your red shirts falls you can quickly replace him with an equally skilled shooter.

Firing your external cannons results in a mini-game which varies from weapon to weapon. Some require taps when a spinning dot reaches a glowing circle, while others need you to create a crosshair from moving lines.

Trouble without Tribbles

It's in the scraps and scrapes that Star Command starts to wobble a little. There are dialogue options in the exchanges beforehand that can change the way a fight plays out, but often you feel like you're being driven inexorably towards violence.

And while that violence is interesting to begin with, the difficulty does spike quite dramatically after a while, and the simplicity of the experience grates more when you're constantly being torn to shreds.

In the end, Star Command is an entertaining little sim that gives you some control over the comings and goings of a spaceship. But you never really feel like the game is giving you enough control to steer that ship in the direction you want it to go.

Star Command
Reviewer photo
Harry Slater | 2 May 2013
While blasting aliens out of the sky can be fun, Star Command lacks the depth of a true space sim
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Show: Latest | Oldest
Oct 2012
Post count:
@arosbooks | 09:22 - 15 May 2013
Wow - I remember this Kickstarter and the game sounded amazing. Sony should have incubated the studio to release the game on Vita so they could have done the idea justice. A real shame as the game sounded brilliant but sounds from this and comments as if it's just designed ready to patch in freemium later on.
Aug 2011
Post count:
Pistols | 10:31 - 8 May 2013
For me Star Command is a disaster. Far too frustrating playing on an ipod touch. Maybe with more room on an Ipad it's more enjoyable but I doubt it.
Space combat, quite simply put is dull. A rotten minigame, broken up by long waits for your weapon to recharge. Whilst waiting you may be attacked by hoardes of zombies. sounds fun? Wrong. The AI that your crew possess is so weak, that turnbased would have been better. the area of detection on your starship is appalling. Lets picture the scene. Whilst being attacked, your ship is on fire and you're being attacked by a hoarde of hungry zombies. Nobody reacts. You have to tell your thick crew to put the fire out. As my crew member stands in awe watching the ship burn because the fire is slightly out of his tiny circle of intellegence, he starts getting eaten by a zombie. does he fire back or attack...no no of course not, because it requires a special talent to fire a gun or protect yourself. Whilst clicking 4 red crew members to attack, I'm trying to heal my crewmates and it feels like I'm constantly clicking to keep everyone in range. The icing on the cake is spending 20 minutes putting a fire out......slowly, really slowly. I had hoped the starbase at earth would help, but no, they are probably affected by the same tiny circle of influence affliction. No strategy at all. very little customization and combat that is no fun.
Apr 2011
Post count:
NotSpam | 10:42 - 3 May 2013
Mostly happy with star command. It's very fun and very atmospheric. I think they should change the structure from sequential missions to to open exploration.

I don't mind some of the slower paced gameplay: It's part sim, management and action game rpg all rolled into one. So good value overall. Just lacks in replay value.
Jul 2012
Post count:
J249 | 13:05 - 2 May 2013
Slightly underwhelmed so far. It's fun for a while, and kinda cool the first couple of times that disaster strikes, but having played Faster Than Light on PC / Mac, Star Command just feels a little flat, clunky and missing some sort of spark.

As an example. When I have to fix hull breaches in FTL it's an intense few moments. Juggling priorities, balancing when to pull the crew out at the last moment before they die, having that last breach sealed, the O2 generator fixed and narrowly avoiding suffocating the rest of the ship. It's brutal and great.

In SC I send a guy (who walks slooooowly) to the engine room to make him a Yellow shirt - then send him (slowly) to the breach. Fingers crossed the shields will hold while I wait for the token to (slowly) appear in the shield extender so I can protect him. Oops, the guy got sucked out in to space because I tapped the token but the crew member got selected, then I had to deselect the crew member, tap the token, then the button to replenish the shields. Guess I shouldn't try and make repairs while in battle, I could just as easily have waited for the Plasma Cannon token to (slowly) be created or the machine guns to slowly recharge...

Hopefully they'll build out the game with new features (I noticed 'Contraband' is coming soon in the crew screen). as what's there feels like the bare bones of a game. I can see a lot of potential though, but considering how long it took to get to this point, how much longer might we wait for the 'full' experience.

I didn't follow the Kickstarter, but I could imagine a very mixed reaction to this. 7/10 is a fair score (maybe a tiny bit generous).