Video Game Rentals Delivered

Commanders: Attack of the Genos (XBLA)

David Yun (Xbox Live Gamertag - Vawce) David Yun (Xbox Live Gamertag - Vawce): (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2008-04-10 10:34:46

Commanders: Attack of the Genos (XBLA) - Rank C

Developer: Southend Interactive
Publisher: Sierra Online
Date: 2/13/08

Commanders is a turn-based strategy game that borrows liberally from Advance Wars. With a variable interest rate and balloon payments. In fact, I can't think of a single positive feature in Commanders that wasn't executed even better in Advance Wars. Commanders even copies the Commanding Officers from Advance Wars, replete with special powers and Japanese manga appearance.

For those of you unfamiliar with Advance Wars, it's fucking terrific; go play it already. You start off with a base that you use to deploy your initial troops. You send them off to capture money generating points to make more troops with which to thrash your enemy. Movement and combat occurs on a grid. Strategy consists of money management, troop selection, and overall battle plan. Tactics is comprised of properly using combined arms: light infantry is weak against mechanized units, which are weak against armor, etc. Sending these ersatz minions off to battle in turn-based wars is always a satisfying good time.

So why the average grade here? Commanders falters in several key categories. Unit balance is suspect; spamming massed heavy artillery is far too effective. The slow paced turn-based combat is even clunkier in 3-D. The ad copy boasts of a "gorgeously stylized retro-futuristic sci-fi thirties art-deco motif", but aside from the spider-bot stolen from The Incredibles and military units that resemble plastic board game pieces, Commanders features bland environments and unimaginative level design. In fact, including the aforementioned Japanese influences, Commanders is a discordant aesthetic mishmash.

If you simply can't get enough of the genre, Commanders: Attack of the Genos is a competent Advance Wars clone. However, I always felt that that sort of gameplay, while perfect for whiling away a car ride on a handheld device, isn't particularly suited for a home console. And it's hard to recommend competency when you have such superior alternatives.

Note: What's even weirder than this kid-friendly Swedish clone of a turn-based Japanese classic, is that Southend's previous game was a foul-mouthed and violent combat sports title called Deathrow for the original Xbox. This game featured fantastic multiplayer action, and I've long wished for a remake playable over Live.

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