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Gaming: Star Wars Commander

May the Force be with you.

With these words, an entertainment giant was born. Starting out as the third movie from then-upcoming director George Lucas, Star Wars has come a long way. The franchise is responsible for a sizeable chunk of popular culture, embedding itself in our childhoods. From movies to television, action figures to video games, there are almost no form of media that Star Wars has not yet entered. There are even Christmas specials and lawn ornaments!

The lasting appeal of the force-using Jedi and Sith, as well as the constant struggle for freedom of the Rebel Alliance from the Galactic Empire (or in the new trilogy’s case, of the Resistance from the First Order) has brought several generations together. From Luke to Rey, Vader to Kylo Ren, Boba Fett to Jar Jar Binks (well, maybe not Jar Jar), there’s always something for everybody.

May the Force be with You

Star Wars Commander aims to do the same. A mobile strategy game by NaturalMotion Games, inserts you into the galactic friction starting out as an unnamed mercenary. Given a choice between serving the Emperor or fighting for freedom, you will be granted control of several types of units, vehicles, and eventually, heroes to fight with. As players proceed with the campaign, they will begin gaining favor in their new position, being given newer and better items and stats for the cause.

Throughout the course of the campaign, you will be taught the basics of warfare. From training your troops and building vehicles to upgrading your units and buildings. While in PVP, such is the case with real-time strategy games, the basic aim of the game is to survive throughout waves of incoming enemies. It is always a treat seeing Darth Vader lead his stormtroopers and turret-crushing AT-ATs to raid enemy camps as much as it does to see Chewbacca and his rebels wipe enemy resources clean.

Join the Dark Side or Die

For a movie series incomplete without robots of various sizes, blasters, lightsabers, and the Force, sound effects are imperative. The game fulfills expectations with movie accurate sound effects from the chiming of passing X-Wing Fighters to the *choom-choom* of every AT-AT blast making you feel like you are in the game dodging storm trooper fire and discreetly avoiding Darth Vader’s path.

Speaking of storm troopers and Darth Vader, like most strategy games, teams are given various types of units, namely: the infantry, vehicles, ships, and heroes. Each type of unit has variations on their movement speed, attack damage, and hit points as well as a priority target. Infantry is the standard attack unit.

Among them are the standard storm troopers, scout troopers, rebel soldiers and wookie warriors among a number of variations on the theme. Vehicles, are mostly the land mobile units seen in the movies, TV series, and comics such as AT-ATs, AT-STs, AATs, and hailfire droids. Vehicles offer more protection than infantry units but cost as much especially when it comes to unit capacity. Mercenaries, are the units you would find in Jabba’s palace. They can be used as infantry but they cost much more given their special attacks. Gammorean guards, Twi’lek incinerators, and Drabatan saboteurs are among their number. Lastly, the heroes. These are special units that have increased stats and are usually unique characters namely, Luke, Han, Chewbacca, R2D2, and Leia for the rebels, and three special vehicle units (Veteran AT-ST, AT-MP Mark III, and Elite AT-AT) along with the Royal Guard, and Darth Vader represent the empire.

Gameplay remains the same as normal strategy games. Players get to strengthen their bases as their main building gets higher in level. This then, unlocks new upgrades for units and buildings, as well as unlocking new units. PVP mode enables you to attack players from opposing factions.

Overall, Star Wars Commander, though just a rehash of the old strategy game, deserves credit for exerting effort to immerse players in the world of the franchise.Reliving the thrills of the intergalactic battle between the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire has never been this good on a smartphone.

Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE May 2019 Issue