Star Wars: Force Commander
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"Because of its dated graphics, ineffective controls, and flawed gameplay, Force Commander falls short of its ambitious intent." - Greg Kasavin, GameSpot Review
It seemed like everyone wanted to enjoy Star Wars: Force Commander. The game had been in development for such a long time, and it had a really great concept. Every Star Wars fan - and there are many - must have wondered at some point what it would be like to be involved in one of Star Wars' epic ground battles, such as the battle for Hoth at the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back. Ideally, Force Commander should have been the game to let all these fans finally play a part in these epic battles. LucasArts' previous strategic Star Wars game, Rebellion, was largely considered to be a disappointment because of its cumbersome interface and superficial relationship to its source material - and this made the stakes even higher for Force Commander, which should have shown LucasArts fans and Star Wars fans that the company could do better the next time. Unfortunately, it seems as if Force Commander fared even worse with fans and critics alike - again, perhaps because the stakes were higher this time.
Force Commander has a lot of problems. Immediately, you can tell that the graphics aren't as good as they might have been. Force Commander's visuals pale in comparison with last year's Homeworld, the 3D real-time strategy game that set a new precedent for real-time strategy game graphics. Though some of the units look fairly detailed up close, from the default camera perspective, you can hardly see them. For that matter, the camera perspective is very difficult to control, and the game's onscreen interface looks very unpolished.
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The soundtrack in Force Commander also deserves mention. It consists of remixed Star Wars themes, such as the famous Imperial March. Unfortunately, the addition of snare drums to John Williams' classic score does little to help the compositions, and though some players find the game's music to be interesting, others feel it's practically sacrilege.
Ultimately, the biggest problem with Force Commander is that it doesn't play well. Although its mechanics are fairly original - you use resource points to order units, which are then delivered to the battlefield via dropships - in practice, the game just isn't that much fun. Since you earn resources by destroying enemy units, the battles in Force Commander can quickly turn one-sided, or on the other hand, they can turn into tedious stalemates. The game actually features an interesting story, and a lot of good ideas, but these aren't enough to recommend it. At least Force Commander did manage to ship before the release of several other excellent, similar games, including Ground Control, Earth 2150, and Homeworld: Cataclysm. All these games featured far superior graphics and much more refined gameplay, so much so that it's hard to tell that the games were all released in the same year. In the end, Force Commander simply took too long to make. That's too bad, because the concept still deserves a better treatment.
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