For a franchise that includes an army of clones, it’s no surprise that Star Wars might emulate an already successful formula in the mobile market as they’ve done with Star Wars: Commander.
Ultimately little more than a Star Wars-themed Clash of Clans clone, Commander puts the player in charge of a mercenary base on Tatooine with the overall goal of expanding your military strength.
In the beginning, you and your partner Saponza run a bare-bones camp likely destined to be stomped out by any number of dangers that Tatooine present. By completing tutorial-style story missions, however, you catch the eye of both the Rebel Alliance and the mighty empire itself. After proving yourself useful to both, you must decide who to be loyal to.
This choice is perhaps the most interesting and most frustrating part of the game. You are given a brief introduction to both sides, but ultimately are left with little information. Ultimately, it really comes down to picking a skin for your base, with gameplay deviations being largely negligible. The biggest difference is access to the Rebel’s heroes or the Empire’s machinery, but either option plays more or less the same. Unfortunately, the game does not allow players to swap their allegiance without re-installing the app and losing all your progress. The best option here is to pick which side of the Star Wars universe you prefer and choose them.
After selecting your side, you can continue completing missions more focused to your allegiance, and this is where the game can really start to pay off for Star Wars fans. Commander truly feels like a Star Wars game. Characters like Darth Vader and Han Solo make an appearance and feel mostly true to their movie counterparts. Battlegrounds are filled with the iconic sound of Stormtrooper blaster rifles. The AT-AT is just as terrifying as you’d expect it to be.
The gameplay itself offers little in the way of uniqueness. You build buildings and units and wait for them to be completed, occasionally completing story missions. As is often the case, the game offers an ever present opportunity to speed the process up through crystals, Commander’s version of premium currency. To the game’s credit, it is rarely in your face about buying crystals and offers some decent ways to acquire them in-game. Still, the result is a lot of waiting to progress.
As in other Clash of Clans-esque games, players must also defend against or attack enemy players. For most players, this is probably the meat of the game. This is where your meticulous base-building plays out or where your offensive tactics are put to the test. There’s something rewarding about seeing your troops level an opponent’s base. Going the other way, what’s more effective at encouraging you to plan better than seeing hostile troops rip through your own defenses?
My own experience matching up against online opponents was mostly unsuccessful, but strategy has never been my strongest skill which probably contributed to my results. Luckily, losing a match does not create any long-term issues for you apart from losing resources.
Commander will appeal more, if not exclusively, to gamers who prefer more competitive gameplay. The story missions offer some non-PvP fun, but the bulk of the game for most players will likely be attacking and defending against others. Players can buy a timed protection plan using crystals, but the game doesn’t really work as a non-aggressive city builder. Everything is geared towards making your troops stronger or your base more defensible.
Ultimately, the game is pretty good at what it’s trying to be good at: offering fun, Star Wars-themed battles. The theme alone is probably enough to appeal to bigger Star Wars fans, and the battles can be pretty entertaining as well, especially later on in the game when more powerful units are unlocked.