Field Commander

Field Commander

Field Commander

Casualty of war?

We could do a lot of soul searching about whether strategy games work on a console - a handheld console at that. Ask anyone who's gotten cosy with the Advance Wars series - presentation, style, replayability, charm and deep strategic choices make it a beautiful thing. In horrible contrast, those of us who spent time with Aliens versus Predator: Extinction can only cringe at the pain. It left us feeling violated.

Somewhere in the middle sits Field Commander, a decent stab at turn-based strategy in the palm of your hand. The basics are there, and it works, but it struggles to distinguish itself and is hampered by an identity crisis, annoying technical issues and a general lack of tension. Maybe it is the nature of the genre clashing with the format, or maybe it's just not special enough. But who wants above average games that never reach greatness?

From a distance it looks like there's going to be some realism, or at least a realistic atmosphere to help create tension. But up close - and there's nothing closer than squinting at a screen you're holding inches from your face - the graphical style is too muddled. The perspective of the troops on the battlefield, the icons and the size of the PSP, all render units cute and tubby instead of detailed and deadly. It's not necessarily crippling to gameplay, but by not sticking to a particular style it gives the impression of being muddled. Imagine a tough-talking general barking his orders with a lollipop hanging from the side of his gob rather than a cigar. These soldiers need the hairdryer treatment from a drill sergeant about the state of their appearance.

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