Field Commander Reader Review
Being a RTS fan, I thought it might be interesting to give a genre which I had always ignored, Turn-Based Strategy, a try. And I was convinced.
Field Commander is a proposal from Sony Online Entertainment very obviously based upon - in other words, a ripoff of - the portable TBS Advance Wars titles, which I, for one, never played before. What does this mean? Although I am aware that the concept and game mechanics are as far from new as anything can get, I can opinate on FC without falling into pointless comparisons.
The storyline is the typical G.I.Joe versus Cobra / GDI versus Nod rubbish, so I'm pretty sure everyone will just skip that boring intro the first time they boot the UMD.
The rules are very simple: during your turn, move one unit at a time, attacking enemy units or not, as well as performing other actions, such as occupying buildings, laying mines, and so forth. Destroy all enemy units or take over their headquarters and the battle is won. Add to this the fact that the terrain affects every unit movement, your units interact with eachother, and that infantry, tanks, helicopters all damage each other differently, and what you have is a seriously deep gameplay.
So, according to what one cannot help hearing all over the Internet, Sony presumably took the AW gameplay and built upon it taking advantage of the PSP hardware. This means 3D graphics. On the other hand, while both the controls and the overall presentation of the game are pretty good (attractive and intuitive menus, a soundtrack that sets a military mood, and plenty of speech even), the in-game graphics look rather bland, and the animations showing every attack quickly become tiresome. Fortunately these can be skipped. Another problem one quickly notices is the PSP AI. Really not the brightest.
But it's a matter of perspective. The fact is that the single-player campaign actually is one large training ground for the multiplayer part. And multiplayer is where Field Commander really does its best. And what a package it delivers there. You can play against a friend using one PSP, or you can have AdHoc, Infrastructure, and even play-by-mail battles (the elusive Transmission mode). Every useful option for handheld gaming is in there. And as if that wasn't enough, you can take pre-built maps and alter them with an editor. Make no mistakes, FC was designed to be played online.
Good to see Sony developers actually placing some focus on the best that the PSP has to offer. A game well delivered. I would have given it a 9, if the single-player campaign had a bit more challenge, but still, the strong focus on multiplayer adds so much to longevity, it keeps FC as good value for money. An 8 that should read 8.5, then.
8 / 10