I really hate pointing out the similarities and borrowings between different games, but of course, like a person with an OCD, looking at a horse in a herd of zebras, I can’t stop my mind from dragging me back to it. I’ve already settled on a fact that if a game has three important differences from the game it supposedly took some inspiration from, I won’t consider it a plagiarism, no matter how many similarities it has with the original. These three important things are the platform, on which this game was released, being different from the original, time passed between the two games being at least a couple of months, and the popularity of the original being more than the borrower’s. By that extent, Star Command is absolutely original and although I will compare it to the game it obviously should cite as an inspiration, I want to note right here that I’m not telling that this game is boring or lacks originality. With that said, let me introduce you to Faster Than Light: iPhone Edition.
I feel almost bad for bringing up Faster Than Light, since Star Command is a really incredible game and although the basic concepts are all the same, the level of work, done in this game, as well as number of striking differences, put it way beyond being a copy of FTL. Better yet, I feel that it’s an improvement over the original idea that was born from a stroke of genius, but ultimately lacking in detail. Star Command expands on everything that Faster Than Light did, perhaps, even to some puzzling complexity. I feel a bit overwhelmed, starting to list the features of this game, since there are so many of them. For starters, your job is to be a captain of a spaceship, under the direct orders from Earth (at least, that’s the story behind the starting ship, with more waiting to be unlocked by you, in the game). Being a captain means a lot of responsibilities, not the last of them being hiring and managing (read: directly controlling) your crew, as they run various systems of your ship – and by the way, the systems are also up to you to build, both ship’s internal structures, like healing chamber and shield booster, and weapons that differ by their damage, resources required and way of firing. To build ship’s subsystems, upgrade them and hire new crewmembers, you need special tokens that you collect by completing missions, destroying enemies and being a complete Capt. Badass. The enemy encounters aren’t simple exchanges of ammo, either, but prolonged battles, where you need to make the best of your crew and weapons, first destroying the enemy ships’ shielding, then drawing its health to zero, while protecting your own ship from the same fate. As if that wasn’t complex enough, the crews also have an option to teleport to the enemy’s ship, if the correct upgrade is installed, and wreak havoc inside of it. Of course, that’s if they aren’t going to be stopped by the enemy crewmembers. The game takes place on the whole universe, where you can travel to any planet or station you want, getting missions and getting into fights, and generally enjoying yourself. The game is a real-time strategy, if that’s not quite obvious, and while it’s somewhat closer to an economic simulator, with all the micromanagement and different ways of solving the conflicts, your tactical decisions, correct upgrades, and an ability to think straight in the dire circumstances are going to be much more helpful than correct management of your ship.
If it looks like I’ve left a significant part of gameplay overboard, then it’s only because it’s true. It’s quite impossible to list the mechanics of Star Command, in a small article and I’m sure that there is definitely a fan-site, dedicated to this game, already in production, so I’ll just tell you that the game is really fun, really complex and demands a lot of understanding and tinkering about, to enjoy it. But, if you are prepared to spend a lot of time in it, then it’s definitely an impressive game. This is why, after some consideration, I decided to award Star Command with full five stars, even though the game’s idea is not a wholly original one. The amount of gameplay, hidden inside your ship, is just staggering, and the game is simply too good to pass.