Better Late Than Never: Star Command

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StarCommandTitle

For anyone who grew up watching Star Trek, having a tablet is kind of a window into the future. Or, maybe that is just me and my inherent dorkiness–you know, whatever spins your warp drive. Anywho…

Star Command is a tactical role-playing game for iOS, Android, and PC. You control the crew of a starship by taking on the role of a captain. This pixelated isometric wonder is all about exploration and keeping your ship flying and your crew alive. It is the player’s job to make the necessary upgrades to the ship to keep on flying, and train up the best crew to fight hostile alien forces.

Designers Jordan Coombs and Justin Coombs are responsible for the snappy wit and tongue-in-cheek humor, while Steve Tranby is responsible for the programming. It took two Kickstarter campaigns to gather the funds to bring this star-flung creation to life; if the cult following that surrounds this game is any indicator, it was worth the wait.

As much as Star Command borrows conventions from the universe of Star Trek, (the first of many indicators being the uniforms: red for command, yellow for engineering, and blue for science and medical), the hokey humor and calls to various space-faring romps are plentiful and amusing. Strangely, all of the scenarios are based either on your ship, or in ship-to-ship combat. For all of your exploration of galaxies, there is no exploring of planets. Hmm.

So how does it play? Your crew is part of Star Command, an interstellar conglomerate of humanoids that protect their people and sail on through the universe with a charge of exploration. As you advance, you upgrade your ship, and your veteran crewmembers go up in rank and effectiveness.

Bigger guns are always better, right?
Bigger guns are always better, right?

One of the most intriguing things about Star Command is that damage to the ship does not just go away–you must repair it. This is detrimental to everything from scans to targeting, to the survival of your crew. It isn’t particularly hard to get sucked into the void of space if there is a hull breach.

Damage is immediate an consequencial.
Damage is immediate and consequential.

There are four types of jobs–command, engineering, medical, and science. These pathways are what allow characters to have access to abilities and development. This effects special skills, and what the individual crewmembers rise in rank with development as the game goes on. Brand new characters are pretty baseline, showing little or no proficiency in any of these skill sets. Throughout the game, you have opportunities to gain characters that are proficient in one area or another, but you are completely free to move any character into whatever role you see fit.

Choose your crew, but make sure that they are balanced to run a tight ship.
Choose your crew, but make sure that they are balanced to run a tight ship.

Naturally, there are aggressive aliens that are up to no good, but there are also allies to be made along the way. Unfortunately, the storyline is very linear, and the choices to be made are more forced decisions than not. It does make for a welcome change when the gameplay does eventually open up to the exploration that is promised from the beginning. The reward for finishing the all of the quests offered is a chance to start all over again, with your existing seasoned crew and a larger, more impressive ship to upgrade to a more impressive fighter and research vessel. Somehow, this is enough entertainment value to allow for some replayability, with more difficult versions of the same story.

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