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Star Command boldly goes where no iOS game has gone before

Chris Holt | June 18, 2013
A great game makes you want to spend more time exploring and understanding its universe; with Star Command, I can't wait to get lost again in pixelated space.

Unfortunately, the campaign is very linear, and Star Commend doesn't lend itself to replay-ability. Sure, the game's RPG elements and challenging battle mechanic will keep players engrossed for a few hours, but once you've mastered the mini-games and upgraded both your crew and ship, the game is essentially over.

My biggest issue with Star Command is its narrow focus, which has lead to a few missed opportunities. I love that you can visit different planets, meet a diverse spectrum of aliens, and organize your ship how you'd like. But the promise of exploring the galaxy and being a "Star Commander" is a bit more ambitious than what the developers deliver. Right now, every battle involves enemies boarding your ship, but you can't send an away team to attack theirs. Even with shields, your enemies can still blow massive holes in your ship. It feels like the developers need to fine-tune the rock-paper-scissors of battle.

You also can't explore and gain resources as an alternative to fighting, and every interaction with an alien species—save one—is essentially a prelude to a battle, giving players the illusion of choice. No matter how you interact with a species of tech-trading aliens, for example, they're going to attack; it's just a matter of whether or not you let them beam a bomb on the ship first. Even the action-heavy JJ Abrams Star Trek films had more in-depth alien interactions than this game.

Bottom line
As a franchise, Star Command has a great deal of potential, though it's not fully realized yet. Still, there's a lot to like here; the ability to name members of your crew after your friends and customize your crew's skill sets and your ship's layout are commendable and compelling distractions. And while the shooting mechanic is frustrating, the overall battles were exceptionally frenetic and challenging; I had to always check a dozen different things to make sure I didn't lose my crew, surrender an important room, or spout a hull breach. Star Command is also sweet and surprisingly clever at times, with strong writing and well thought-out character design. A great game makes you want to spend more time exploring and understanding its universe; with Star Command, I can't wait to get lost again in pixelated space.

 

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