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Field Commander

Who doesn't love blowing stuff up? Gamers know firsthand the satisfaction of marching up to the bad guy's front door and blasting it into the ground - and that's the feeling Sony Online is hoping to duplicate with Field Commander.

Instead of controlling one soldier, or even a squad of crack troops you’re in command of an entire army that’s tasked with stopping an evil organization from taking over the world (and no, it’s not Cobra). You’ll have nearly 20 different types of units, each with drawbacks and advantages. Think of it as a particularly rough game of chess or rock-paper-scissors.

The units are the same kind of land, sea and air fair we’ve grown accustomed to, but Commander enables you to choose who’s controlling those vehicles. Each of the 15 soldier divisions brings its own strengths and weaknesses to the Risk table.  For example, one division may have a total mastery of tanks and other land-based units, but doesn’t have a clue what to do with helicopters. Balancing good resource management, along with which divisions to bring into combat, will be the most important aspect of Field Commander.

Sony Online is cramming 30 single-player missions in the game, but it will have a serious online presence. Aspiring designers can create their own scenarios and share them online using an included map maker, and there will be both local Ad Hoc and online Infrastructure play available. If you’re afraid of devoting hours to a turn-based, online confrontation, there’s an option to email your opponent turn-by-turn and carry one match over several hours or even days.

Commander looks to be a solid, if slightly derivative strategy excursion. It’s sporting some capable 3D graphics and explosive sound effects, though the generic "Good vs. Evil" armies lack the snazzy charm of Advance Wars, this game’s main competition. In fact, many traits are lifted straight out of Nintendo’s vibrant war sim, including 10 hit points per unit and infantry troops that capture neutral cities.

But strategy buffs love any excuse to fight fire with fire, and they’ll feel right at home when Commander launches in April.

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