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Are the recent free Star Wars games worth your time (and money)?

Andrew Hayward | Dec. 5, 2014
Disney and DeNA explore different styles of strategy gameplay with their latest licensed freemium games. We explore both.

I'm not typically too swayed by this particular freemium formula, but I found myself checking Commander regularly throughout my days, tapping buildings to amass resources, generate soldiers, and fortify my defenses. It really is dead simple, and to a fault in spots: irritatingly, your automated troops know nothing of self-preservation. But it's strangely satisfying in three-minute spurts throughout the day. 

Anyone eager to play in a more dedicated fashion will feel the brunt of the roadblocks more than others. Everything takes time to complete, but everything also takes resources to build. And you'll suddenly be seriously underpowered for a certain mission, or you'll need a specific level building to push ahead. At those points, you'll wait for hours and maybe days to slowly amass enough currency to complete a simple task--and then probably wait longer for something to build.

Or you can spend money on premium crystals and use those to speed processes up, or convert them to other currencies and buy what you need. Those roadblocks are frustrating, but they come with the territory. And I don't think Commander is interesting or involved enough to want to play in large chunks--or spend much money on. But for a few minutes at a time, here or there, it's a very solid diversion, and a decent use of the Star Wars brand. 

Diminished defense
DeNA's Star Wars: Galactic Defense launched a couple weeks back, and on the surface, there's plenty to like--emphasis on plenty. You'll find three current worlds, each with several different stages, plus they all have multiple scenarios so you can replay them for fun or additional credits. Add to that the ability to play missions as either the Light Side or Dark Side, and 37 total iconic champions (like Han Solo and Boba Fett) to unlock and wield in battle, and Galactic Defense has the quantity side of the equation locked down. 

Quality, on the other hand, is less of a certainty. Galactic Defense has the fundamental elements of a great tower defense game pretty well intact, largely because they're lifted from genre leader Kingdom Rush. Stage layouts and tower upgrade progression paths here feel incredibly familiar as a fan of that series, but credit to DeNA for at least picking great source material to base its game upon.

The objective in Galactic Defense, as expected, is to ward off invaders approaching your base by building an array of offensive towers in specific plots around the paths. How you place and upgrade the towers is often key to your success, as you need to consider how each affects different enemies, how their attacks can combine to best weaken the invaders, and most importantly, how best to use your limited resources to deal with the challenge at hand.


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