While big-budget turn-based tactical games aren't often made for consoles or the PC anymore (even the Advance Wars series was morphed into a real-time game when it debuted on the GameCube as Battalion Wars), the genre seems like a natural fit for the casual and handheld markets, as the games like Advance Wars, Fire Emblem, and Band of Bugs demonstrate. Sierra is further attempting to capitalize on this trend with the release of Commanders: Attack!
Commanders will be instantly recognizable by anyone who's played Advance Wars in the past, and seems to have drawn heavily from those games during its conception. In it, you play as a member of a band of humans attempting to defend yourself against the Genos, a band of genetically engineered enemies that are attempting to wipe you out after a few years of peace between your nations. Stylistically, the game used a retro sci-fi look from the 1930's or 1950's, with a lot of walking tripods, car units that have fins, and robots with a lot of rounded curves on them.
Like Advance Wars, though, the game is a tile-based strategic combat simulation that places you in command of a number of units with which you need to crush your enemies. Each unit has a number of action points that you can spend to move or attack your opponents, with units like scout cars having more action points but a lower attack. The standard rock-paper-scissors kind of combat is on display here, with scout cars being capable of defeating infantry easily, tanks being strong against scout vehicles, air units being strong against tanks, and so on, with artillery units being kind of a catchall. Success will rely on marshaling your forces and using their strengths appropriately against your enemies.
In addition to the normal units, your commander is actually on the battlefield itself in a powerful tank. As with Advance Wars, each commander (there are four per side) has a special attack that can be used only after you charge up a power meter by engaging in combat. We played with a man named Alec Falcon, who had an attack called Blitz. When we walked his tank into the middle of a group of enemies, we could use Blitz to fire on every enemy within range, instead of having to focus on one enemy at a time.
Other tropes of the genre, including capturable buildings like oil wells that generate cash and factories where you can spend money to create new units, are also incorporated in Commanders: Attack! Being big turn-based strategy nerds, we're looking forward to Commanders, but only time will tell if it can differentiate itself significantly from past games in the genre. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more information on the title as it approaches its release date.