But it won't be just your usual tanks, soldiers and airplanes taking down the enemy forces. On top of those standard units you will also be in control of a commander unit, an unusual craft (it looks like the machines in War of the Worlds, only with four legs instead of three) that is not only strong, but also allows you to power-up your army and potentially change the momentum of the war. Depending on which commander you choose to take into battle, you will be able to give your soldiers two turns in a row, make them invincible for one turn or send scores of missiles down towards any nearby enemies. These different abilities can mean the difference between winning and losing, so it's vitally important that you keep track of what your commander can do and when they can do it.
While the fifteen level story may not sound like much, this mode can easily take you more than ten hours to beat. Obviously this all comes down to how good you are at these kinds of games, but the average person will spend close to an hour trying to beat a number of these lengthy levels. On top of the basic story mode you will also get an advanced story, which adds a lot of challenge to the standard levels. And that's not all, you will also get a series of throw-away levels, levels that are in no way connected to the story mode but are there for you to jump into if you're just looking for a fun battle against the computer. Between these three modes there's definitely more than enough content to warrant the $10 price tag.
When you're not spending your time battling the computer, you can jump online to check out the various multiplayer modes. For the most part this Xbox Live section has a barebones look and feel, but if you're looking for a fun multiplayer match (which allows you to play against up to three other people at the same time) this should get the job done. What I was impressed with was how much faster everything moved online, it's as if the developers realized that the people playing online are not going to want these matches to take up the entire afternoon and decided to speed everything up. That was a good decision, as far as I'm concerned.
Unfortunately there are a few problems with the game that I wished were ironed out before the game was uploaded to the Xbox Live Marketplace. For one thing the way the camera moves can sometimes be a bit jarring, every time you or the enemy attacks the camera will pan around the level and move in weird ways. When you're battling only one or two things it's not that noticeable, but once you're locked in a war against a half dozen vehicles it'll start to give you the uneasy feeling you get when you're on a boat or about to watch a Jennifer Lopez movie. For the most part this isn't that big of a deal, but it would have been nice if somebody would have noticed this before it went gold.
Another thing that bugs me is the leveling up system. As each of the individual vehicles attacks they will gain experience, until ultimately they level up. When they do this they will regain all of their health and become a little stronger. Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of leveling up the individual vehicles, but it would have been nice if these characters were given a different look, a new weapon or something noteworthy. That alone would have been a great way to separate this game from that other franchise it's so easy to compare it to.
The graphics in Commanders are good, but they aren't going to knock your socks off or anything. The different units are generally good looking and, most importantly, they look different at a distance. The backgrounds are a bit lackluster, but this type of game has never been a graphical power house. It's nice to see this style of game in a 3D setting, even if we've already seen a lot of these effects in Field Commander. When it comes right down to it the graphics look good on high def TV set and everything explodes real good. Although you won't notice it at first, the game's low budget sci-fi look manages to pay off in good ways towards the end of the game. All in all this is a solid looking strategy game.
What it ultimately comes down to is what kind of gamer you are. If you've never played the Advance Wars games before but have been intrigued by them, then Commanders is worth all ten of those dollars. However, if you're the kind of guy who has never gotten into this type of game, then maybe you should stick with other game. Fans of Advance Wars may not find anything new or original in this game, but Commanders is a solid game that is unlike anything else on the Xbox Live Arcade. Here's hoping that Commanders 2 tries harder to differentiate itself from the other titles in the genre.
Unfortunately Commanders: Attack of the Genos doesn't take any major chances or evolve the genre in any significant way, but it does what it sets out to do and gives you a great deal of action for a mere ten dollars.
This product was submitted by the publisher for review. As a rule, Defunct Games does not review games we spent money on. However, that does not always apply to classic/retro games. This specific product, however, came straight from a PR guy for the purposes of being reviewed!