It sounds a lot like Advance Wars, but can that really be a bad thing?
Being that it's been just a smidgen over a year since the PSP's launch in North America, it's no surprise that the platform continues to see some holes in an otherwise noteworthy lineup of titles. While a genre such as racing has been more than accounted for on Sony's portable platform, others, notably the strategy genre, continue to lag behind the curve. We're ecstatic to report that in just a few short weeks that's all going to change, thanks to Sony Online Entertainment's upcoming turn-based strategy game, aptly entitled Field Commander.
On its surface, Field Commander looks like a trimmed down version of the classic PC game Command & Conquer. But once you go underneath the hood so to speak, you'll learn that it shares more in common with Nintendo's highly acclaimed Advanced Wars series. In other words, this isn't just a port of some preexisting PC game, it was created from the beginning with the PSP console in mind, resulting in what appears to be a fairly simple to grasp control scheme.
While all too familiar, Field Commander's plot fits the premise of the game and the action on the PSP's widescreen. Gamers claim the role of ATLAS, a military faction of the Allied Nations, in a quest to put an end to terrorist activity around the globe. The main enemy encountered in the game is the Shadow Nation - an elite group of terrorists, bent on claiming world domination and amassing powerful weapons, all while doing lots of trash talking during cutscenes.
The meat of the Field Commander's gameplay is the 30 mission deep, storyline driven single player experience. In it, you'll learn about the various strategies needed to successfully manage your campaign while mastering over 15 different unit types. Knowing when, where, and how to strategically place your units and engage the enemy has been a staple of the turn-based strategy genre since its inception, and Field Commander doesn't deviate from these rules. You'll have to manage your forces on three different planes - land, air, and sea - while most of your forces include an alternate form of attack to help mix things up even more.
Visually speaking, Field Commander maintains a very clean look, reminiscent to that of the Command & Conquer series. While its control scheme will without a doubt be compared to Advance Wars, it doesn't share the anime inspired design of Nintendo's action-packed strategy series. Of course, considering that this is a war game, explosions are a big part of the package, and we're happy to report that SOE didn't disappoint on that front. Overall for a handheld strategy game, Field Commander packs a nice visual punch, and there's nothing like it on a handheld that comes near its level of detail.
For the multiplayer enthusiast, Field Commander is a title that proudly ups the ante. Not only does it feature the now standard local ad-hoc 4-player mode, but it also supports infrastructure (yes!), Hot Seat Mode - which allows you and a friend to take turns with one PSP - and even features something called Transmission Mode, so that you can play a friend turn by turn via "e-mail." Really, in terms of multiplayer options, PSP developers could stand to learn a thing or two from the team behind Field Commander.
PSP owners have little to no choice when it comes to finding a good strategy title to indulge in. Fortunately, it looks like SOE is set to release a competent entry that may indeed rival that of Nintendo's best efforts. It's no wonder that the chance to review the game is already turning into its own little turn-based battle here at Modojo. Stay tuned for the full review!