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The iOS app store is a galaxy onto itself, surrounded by a belt of app-rubbish, and launched into intergalactic web-space to distort our ability to view great games. All is not lost, as Star Command, LLC presents Star Command, a comedic-action RTS that provides a somewhat linear story with a smorgasbord of gameplay options. This universal app shines a great light in the shadowy underbelly of independent iOS games. Meshing a little Star Trek with a dab of FTL, Star Command is bottled into a streamlined experience of manageable mayhem.
Rule #1: Keep Your Fazers On Stun
You are given a captain to neatly customize and a ship to pilot into the depths of the universe. After a small tutorial outlining each aspect of your crew: attackers, repairers, and healers, you are given a few introductory ship battles to refine your evolving tactics. The gameplay is fast-paced as each battle takes your starship to the brink of annihilation. Battles are initiated, and it is your duty to fire upon opposing ships as well as fend off enemy units who beam onto your deck. Coordination is the key; while having parts of your crew attack, some healing those fighting, and others repairing the physical damage to the greater vessel. There will be a learning curve, on iPads, and an impossibility factor on iPhones. Size matters when playing Star Command as micro-managing units becomes an exciting task on the iPad screen, but, vision impairment on anything smaller.
Rule #2: Simon Says Move
I sensed that the app was not going to allow for a completely non-linear experience (a la GTA) but I wasn’t disrupted by the hand-holding. As the ship’s captain, you decide which worlds to explore and when you so choose to venture them (depending on where you are in the story). Here is where I found variation and challenge as harder enemies could be broached sooner than expected. These interactions mostly resulted in my demise; however, it swung the learning curve upwards as I understood better strategies from facing tougher opponents earlier. At the conclusion of the campaign, I felt that I had enough involvement in the individual battles to feel accomplishment in the tightly told plot.
From the initial boot, I immediately felt the energy of fun, slap-stick comedy, in SC LLC’s creation. With loading/menu screen quirkiness to character dialogue, there are quick and timely snaps that make you chuckle and sometimes laugh out loud. Though, I wished that the character interactions would have changed more after I completed the first playthrough; it passed the “funny” test the first time, but not any moment thereafter.
Rule #3: Kickstarter Got This Right
Star Command has been highly anticipated. Its kickstarter campaign was a success and I believe the developers delivered an incomplete yet entertaining experience. Many other kickstarter projects have been complete flops and simple heist of fan capital. However, Star Command's intention was to be a game that was playable and entertaining (it did just that). It may not be as explorative as it ambitiously set out to be, but it provides a great cornerstone to construct a beautifully hilarious gaming world going forward.