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Mobile Minute: Star Wars Commander Review

I have mentioned this before in my Pig Can’t Fly review that before I had my tablet, I wasn’t a fan of mobile games. Now that I have owned a tablet for about two years now, I’m slowly coming around. Sure there’s still a ton of shovelware out on Google’s Play store, but I did manage to find a few that have caught and held my attention for more than a minute. Which brings lead me to present a new segment for the site: Mobile Minuet. Yes I know it’s not that original of a name, but think of it this way: if a mobile game does not have you hooked by the first minute, then the game is not worth your time. With that in mind, let’s kick things off with the first Mobile Minuet review of Star Wars Commander.

 

What: Mobile multiplayer strategy

Platform: iOS, Android

Payment model: Free to Play, Freemium

 

The gist: Clash of Clans clone, only with the Star Wars license slapped on and the ability to play as the Rebel Alliance or the Galactic Empire.

 

The Force is With You

Actual story- For the most part, mobile games, especially games that have a build wait time mechanic, have little to no story in them. And if they do its a very simple story. But in the case of Commander, it has the advantage of drawing upon Star Wars lore to make a really intresting, although simple, story.

 

The story is this: the game take place between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes back. The Rebel Alliance has just struck a major blow to the Galactic Empire by destroying the Death Star. You are a mercenary for hire stationed on Tatooine with your partner Saponza. Onced settled in, your base is attacked by thugs working for Jabba the Hutt, but you manage to hold them off. Saponza states that the base won’t survive another attack and suggests to seek out mercenary work from the Rebels and the Empire. Once back from the two jobs (which serve as the tutorial) your base is destroyed by Jabba’s men. Here is where you make your choice on joining either the Rebels or the Empire. Once you make a choice you then become a commander for that faction and follow the storyline of the faction you picked.

 

As I mentioned the story is pretty simple, but the developers took the time to write a story that fits in with establish lore and I think gamers (and Star Wars fans) will really appreciate it.

 

Tutorials show factions in action- Tutorial sections of games are often the most skipped part of the game. “If that’s the case why am I bringing up Commander’s tutorial as a positive?”you may be wondering. My reason is simple, I like presentation of it. In most similar game, they just teach you how to play the game. And unlike those games, Commander has two defined factions: the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire. Each side shows you what they have to offer you while at the same time teaching you how to play the game before you choose a faction to join.  However there is a downside which I will get to later.

 

Iconic vehicles, starfighters, characters at your command- Most games that follow the CoC formula tend to have similar units: archers, knights, barbarians, goblins, etc, etc. Now I’m not against using fantasy tropes, I just feel that they’ve been over used. In Commander, you are a commander in either the Rebel Alliance or the Galactic Empire and take command of  iconic units. In my case, as a commander for the Empire I was in command of Stormtroopers, TIE fighters AT-ATs, and much more. As you level up more units will open up for you to use to crush the opposition and eventually you will be able to call upon special hero units.

 

Special events based on extended universe lore- In addition to the multiplayer battles and the single player story campaign, there are special events that players can participate in. These events allow players to obtain special items to use in multiplayer and in the singleplayer campaign. To make these events even better, the developers will often use various extended universe lore as themes for the missions. For example, this past Halloween saw the introduction of the Deathtrooper, aka zombie Stormtroopers. Its these small touches that the developers put in will have the fans keep on playing.

 

Decent play time before hitting paywall- For those who are not familiar with payment models for mobile games, paywall is a term that describes a point of a game that the player reaches that slows down their progression and tries to “encourage” the player to spend real world money to move forward. See most mobile games make their money by one of two ways: in game apps or microtransactions/in game purchases. While both are a “necessary evil”, some publishers abuse these methods by placing the paywall early on in the game. The paywall for Commander is pretty fair. I personally hit the paywall around chapter 8 or 9 in the singleplayer campaign. This was before the most recent update that added chapter 10. If you play smart you’ll be able to make it to chapter 10 without having to pay real money.

 

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Dark Side of the Force

AI spikes- I do have some issues with Commander, one of those being the AI spikes.As you progress through the game, you will notice that the difficulity of the AI will spike, increasing the diffuclity in missions. This isn’t a gamebreaker and you can always come back to a mission once you leveled up or gained new units. I think this might be due in part that if you upgrade too fast, the AI will try to keep up with that progress.

 

Can get pricey at higher levels- As I mentioned earlier once a player hits the paywall in a game, the game will “encourage” you to buy in game currency. This is where publishers make their money and how there is a chance that they might abuse the system. Commander doesn’t necessarily abuses the system, but the price it costs to continue building is a bit on the high side. For example right now my command center is at level 5. In order to level the rest of my buildings and units, I would have to reach level 6. However I already ran out of gems (the game’s form of currency). If I choose to just wait for my center to reach level 6, I would have to wait 6 days. If I want to continue right away I would have to pay about 1,300 gems. And since I do not have gems, I would have to spend real money to get gems, which the cheapest set cost about $5 for 500 gems. The most expensive set of gems is $100 for 14,000 gems. As you can see, at the higher levels it can start to get pricey, both in game and real money.

 

As I mentioned before, I wasn’t a big fan of mobile games before I got my tablet. This was mostly due to all of the clones of other games that populate the Play Store. And while Star Wars Commander is a clone of Clash of Clans, I really enjoyed it. It felt like a Star Wars experience thanks to having a story that is canon to the main movies, its use of expanded universe lore and all of the iconic units. However it still retains some of the problems that most mobile games have, such as AI spikes, and pricey in game currency. If you’re getting a bit tired of the fantasy setting that games like Clash of Clans offers, then give Star Wars Commanders a download. as Master Yoda once said: “Do or do not. There is no try.”

 

8/10

 

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