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Star Wars: Commander

For: iPhone   Also on: Android, iPad, Windows Phone

Star. Wars. Bores

Product: Star Wars: Commander | Publisher: LucasArts | Format: iPhone | Genre: Strategy, Tower defence | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe | App version: 2.0.2
Star Wars: Commander iPhone, thumbnail 1
I had a tinker with Star Wars: Commander a little while ago - back when the game soft-launched in Australia, in fact.

It wears its Clash of Clans inspirations on its sleeves, and indeed it's tempting to write the game off immediately as just another clone.

But this is a Star Wars game, seemingly with a significant budget behind it, so there's got to be more to Commander than meets the eye, right?

Find out with me over the next seven days.

First impressions

I'd forgotten how glacial strategy management games can be.

Star Wars: Commander dishes out its two resources - Credits and Alloy - at an AT-AT's pace, making building new structures to defend your Headquarters and gather more materials a slow process.

As with Clash of Clans you have two units to construct and improve buildings. In CoC they're Workers, in Commander they're Droids. But only having a couple means the early part of the game can drag.

That said, criticising a strategy management game for being slow is like criticising a platformer for having a jump button. It's par for the course, and you go into a game like Star Wars: Commander expecting a bit of plod.

At the moment I'm not finding too many differences between this and its Supercell source material, but hopefully this will change as the game begins to open up.

Day 3: I suggest a new strategy

Three days in and the game is still slow-going, and I don't really see that changing. You use Alloy to buy and upgrade buildings more than you use Credits, which slows progress if you simply want to bide your time and build up resources.

IAPs explained
There are multiple currencies in play: the one to speed up stuff is Crystals, the one to create buildings is Alloy, the one to buy troops is Credits.

Crystals can also be used to buy more of the latter two (though they can be earned through regular play too). Prices for Crystals start at £2.99 / $4.99 for 500, which seems steep, considering one new worker droid costs that much to create.
What's much more effective if you're looking to progress quickly - and what the game clearly tries to funnel you into doing - is spending your Credits to train troops. You can then send them off to participate in battles.

When you select the Attack a Rival option, you send your soldiers into battle against someone of a similar level, hoping that you'll smash their base to itty bitty pieces through a combination of overwhelming might and tactical nous.

It plays out like any other strategy management game. You place your troops on the field, they automatically pick a target close to them and attack it.

When they're done, they pick another. You can't directly control where they'll go next, which feels like a step back from the advances that Samurai Siege and Boom Beach made to the genre.

You can skip a battle and move onto another using Credits, but that's the only pre-battle strategy available. The rewards for victory are high, though.

Lots of Credits and Alloy are up for the looting, which, playing as the heroic Rebels, feels an odd thing to be doing. Your troops are expended after an encounter, just like in Clash of Clans.

There are also riches - including the premium Crystals - to be found by completing chapters of the single player story, which include battles, defending your base, and upgrading your buildings.

I'm enjoying Star Wars: Commander enough to want to continue playing, but I'm yet to see any part of it that does anything radically different.

Day 7: Dispensing with the pleasantries

After a full week with the game, I don't feel like I've progressed very far, and I'm left questioning why anyone thought this game needed to be made - aside from the buckets of cash it'll surely make for featuring the Star Wars license.

I've not yet upgraded my Headquarters to the fourth level, so much of the game is still locked away from me. I feel my base is organised well for defence, and I've certainly been improving my turrets and mortars to fight back against invasions.

My walls have been fortified to keep out unwanted guests too. Yet every morning I wake up to find my base ravaged and precious precious resources stolen.

To give myself the edge in battles I've also been researching more powerful troop types. It's fun to gain access to new soldiers, and to buff up the ones I already have, but no amount of training can improve the artificial intelligence designating the area your troops will attack next.

My crack team of rebels decided in the middle of a battle that instead of attacking the turret that was blasting them with laser fire, they'd fire round after round into the totally harmless wall just next to it.

It's infuriating, and your lack of agency in combat - with the exception of calling in the odd air strike - means you're a prisoner to the AI and its bizarre tactical quirks.

Learning from your mistakes is also tough, as the camera is zoomed out during battles that it obscures the action. Is your soldier getting shot? You'll have to zoom right in to try and see. Star Wars: Commander doesn't even change the colour of the health bars to help you distinguish between friend and foe.

Strategy management games have flooded the market since the phenomenal success of Clash of Clans, and new ones have to offer something meaningfully different to the now well-known formula to be worth recommending over Supercell's effort.

Slapping a licence over the top of a basic copy of the fundamentals just isn't going to cut it.

This is a cumersom and slow take on an arguably tired genre. You might get something from the Star Wars licence, but otherwise Star Wars: Commander is a wholly forgettable strategy management game.

How are you getting on with the game? You can tell us and the rest of the PG community about your experiences by leaving a comment in the box below. Click here to learn about our free-to-play review policy.
Star Wars: Commander
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 2 September 2014
Clash of Clans by way of Tatooine, by way of boredom. You probably don't need Star Wars: Commander in your life
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