Nintendo’s Advance Wars is a fantastic series. The franchise took the normally intimidating war/strategy genre and boiled it down to a very playable, very rookie-friendly game that managed to offer all the depth of a good war game without all of the confusion. Now that style of game comes to Xbox Live Arcade with Commanders, which apes the popular Nintendo franchise with great success.
The idea behind Commanders is to move your various units through large maps, fulfilling mission-specific objectives while carefully managing your troops, buying new units, and capturing various buildings and bases. The challenge comes from the "fog of war," which covers the relatively big maps based on your units’ line of sight.
The rules are really simple. Certain units are very effective against some enemies, and useless against others. Learning the rock/paper/scissors relationships of each unit is the key to victory, and the information is openly shared by the game at all times. Even movement over terrain is simple to use, with the game giving you multiple cues about where and how your units can move to the greatest effect.
This genre has always shone most through multiplayer, and Commanders doesn’t disappoint in this department, with co-op multiplayer modes and versus modes over Xbox Live.
Visually, Commanders isn’t going to win any awards. It doesn’t do anything particularly impressive, but everything is clean, crisp, and easy to see. You’ll never have any complaints about the production values. Plus the art-deco style gives the game a bit of personality that it would have lost otherwise thanks to the complete lack of voice-acting on the extensive dialogue.
Commanders: Attack of the Genos is a fun, supremely-playable game that can and will be enjoyed even by those who aren’t hardcore strategy fans.
Feb 15, 2008