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Star Command Review

By Dave Flodine, on May 8, 2013
Last modified 10 months, 4 weeks ago


Star Command
Download on the AppStore
Rating

PROS

  • Intense real time strategy with a fairly simple interface.
  • Reminiscent of games like FTL.
  • Story options, with some interesting mission types.

CONS

  • Can be tough to select what you're after on the iPhone screen.
  • Fairly standard isometric visuals.
  • Probably a little too difficult for the casual strategy fan.The mini-games to fire your weapon are annoying.

VERDICT

If you're looking for a strategy title on the iOS that will keep you on your toes, Star Command should more than suffice.


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Star Command has been on the radar for a few years now, being the result of two kickstarter campaigns (one before Double Fine made crowd-sourcing mainstream), and a lot of ambitious ideas. The game that has been released is a small section of the developers' original vision, and what was supposed to be a grand entry into the mobile 4x genre plays like an interesting take on games like Faster Than Light. Even though we're dealing with a smaller scope here, there's still a great experience to be had for strategy fans, so let's explore further.

You are the captain of your own space vessel. After a quick customisation of your character and choosing your ship's colour scheme, you are thrust into the first mission with only a collection of tool tips to help you through. Not adequately explaining how to play is one of the weak points of the game experience, but a little fiddling around and one or two restarts, and you should be good to go. To save you the hassle, I'll try and explain the finer points here. You hire crew, and build and upgrade parts of your ship with tokens, which are earned by completing the story missions of the game. You can assign your crew to any room on the ship, and to use your weapons, repair your vessel or just use any ship functionality, that crew member must be present at all times (though crew members can be reassigned with a simple tap should the situation call for it). The main game is combat, either ship to ship, or fighting off enemies that have boarded your vessel. To fire upon an enemy, your weapons need to charge (and if they require ammo, that has to have been created before the weapon can fire). Upon firing, you have to complete a small mini-game to score a hit, either tapping when the circles line up for the laser cannon, or aiming the cross-hair correctly for the plasma rockets. Your crew members fire automatically at boarding parties if they are within range, and killing intruders is how your crew gains experience and levels up. One the target has been neutralised, you can fly back to your home-world to hire new crew, repair, upgrade, and load up ammo reserves before tackling the next mission.

All this is accomplished with taps. Crew members are tapped on to select, and then assigning or moving them is tapping on a room or a ship. On the iPad there might be no issue, but on iPhone, the smaller screen results in selecting rooms or crew members that one did not want to, and in the heat of battle, these precious seconds lost can be disastrous. The game is rather uncompromising in assuming you've picked up not only the basics through its tool tips, but have formed a selection of game strategies after about the second mission. While the game itself is fairly streamlined in its gameplay, its difficulty might alienate the more casual strategy fan, while the hardcore players in the genre will find the mini-games and simple build options limiting.

Don't get us wrong, it's still a solid strategy title (especially considering that the developers settled on a focused experience that was likely a small part of their overall vision), but it seems to sit in the middle of two audiences its not going to completely win over. That being said, any fans of strategy should give it a go to see if it resonates. Who knows, perhaps future updates or a sequel might bring this experience closer to what this game was meant to be.

Screenshots

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Comments

Avatar
joshdombro 11 months, 1 week ago

Somehow I still haven't bought this game, though it's just a matter of time... I didn't know the part about the mini-games required to hit your targets, that's a really cool twist, though not exactly a selling point by itself. I love that the devs seem really open to suggestions and have promised updates and improvements soon, though I'm wary of what they have to say since the game was delayed so long. It's really interesting seeing all the different opinions on this game, and how they're weighted by the buildup for this game. Thanks, Dave.

Avatar
Djrella659 11 months, 2 weeks ago

I've been playing Star Command for a bit now and, even though it isn't the full experience as mentioned in the review, is very entertaining. There are a couple of limitation annoyances, but they're hardly gamebreaking. Though, I do hope alongside many gamers that future updates (if any) will expand the game.. That, and hopefully there will be an alternate mode where there could be some actual diplomacy or economic values instead of having no trading at all and every single person in the known universe wanting to slit your throat and salvage your ship for parts.