TechnoFILE is copyright and a registered trademark © ® of
Pandemonium Productions.
All rights reserved.
E-mail us Here!
Force Commander

LucasArts' "Force Commander"

Wiping Out Rebel Scum

By Jim Bray

George Lucas' new "real time strategy game" for Windows PC's turns the tables on the plucky rebel alliance of "Star Wars" fame.

"Force Commander" lets you live vicariously the life of Brenn Tantor, an Imperial officer sent to root out and destroy those pesky but tenacious rebel scum. Along for the ride is your brother, Dellis, and in the levels I've completed you automatically lose if he gets killed.

The two of you aren't sent down alone, of course. You also command Imperial Walkers, Scout Walkers, speeder bikes, TIE Fighters, and a whole assortment of other bad guy tools we've come to know and love over the past couple of decades.

Oh, sure, you can choose from missions that let you play as a rebel commander, but why face overwhelming and hopeless odds when you can fire up a few Walkers and crush your enemy ruthlessly?

Besides, it's kind of neat to see how the other half lives….

"Force Commander" follows the tradition of games like "Starcraft," "Command and Conquer" and "Dune 2000" but LucasArts has thrown in a few new wrinkles. In other games, for example, you have to build your base and set up supply lines that keep bringing resources to your side, but "Force Commander" simply doles out "Command Points" you can spend on new hardware or personnel.

Points are allotted based on how well you do in combat, so you can't just sit back and wait for your coffers to fill; to have any chance of success you have to actively engage the enemy.

This lack of resource gathering takes one major component out of the equation and, while it does allow you to concentrate more on making mayhem than on managing minions, I think it makes the game a little less interesting. Only a little, though.

You can play in "Campaign" or "Scenario" mode; you can also choose "skirmish" but, if you're as good at playing games as I am, it'll be very short lived because the enemy will wipe the planetary surface with you.

"Campaign Mode" offers a vital set of tutorials that walk you through the controls and the interface, and then pats you on the head and sends you off on a couple of minor missions. These missions actually turn out to be pretty neat for "Star Wars" fans, because they put you in charge of the Storm troopers sent to retrieve the "Death Star" plans that Princess Leia stole and hid inside R2D2 in the first (well, fourth) of the "Star Wars" movies.

You'll want to complete these training missions, too, because the game's interface (including your "camera angles") takes a bit of getting used to. You can swing your view to nearly any angle and various heights, though you never look down from directly above, which means there's always a 3D look to "Force Commander."

Subsequent missions - and you have to successfully complete one before you can sally forth further - get increasingly difficult.

Fortunately, your Imperial troops are far better shots than they were in the movies.

Graphics quality is very good, with nice texturing of landscapes and pretty good animation - but if you don't have heavy duty video hardware you'll be in real trouble. Audio quality is wonderful, and if you have a set of PC speakers with a good subwoofer you'll be very happy.

The game will use as much hardware as you can throw at it; LucasArts says 3D hardware acceleration is an absolute necessity. My PC has some 3D acceleration, though it isn't the greatest, and I have 16 Meg of video RAM. Despite this, however, the graphics were choppy and it almost seemed as if "Force Commander" was holding its nose when it deigned to run on my reasonably high end system.

Minimum requirements to run "Force Commander" include a 266 Mhz processor, 64 Meg of RAM, 8 Meg of video RAM, 454 Meg of hard drive space, and a 16 bit sound card.

One frightening aspect of the game is its music. John Williams' stirring "Imperial March" has been given a "heavy metal meets disco" treatment that, were the composer dead, would undoubtedly result in his Heavenly nickname being "Pinwheel John."

That said, it's great to see a new "Real time strategy" game, and "Force Commander" is a decent entry into the genre.

Jim Bray's technology columns are distributed by the TechnoFILE and Mochila Syndicates. Copyright Jim Bray.


Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think













Support TechnoFile
via Paypal

TechnoFILE's E-letter
We're pleased to offer
our FREE private,
private E-mail service.
It's the "no brainer"
way to keep informed.

Our Privacy Policy

January 31, 2006