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Developer:
Sony Online Entertainment
Publisher: Sony Online Entertainment
Platform: PSP
Release Date: May 23, 2006

by Josh Ferguson




Owners of the PSP who are fans of the strategy genre have something to be excited about with the release of Field Commander. The game features a realistic military setting, and may be the best strategy game for the system!


Considering that Field Commander is a strategy title, most of the emphasis of the game is placed on combat rather than story, but thatís not to say that the story is bad. Storyline-wise, the game places the player in the role of the field commander for the Advanced Tactical Legion for Allied Security (ATLAS), an organization set up by the allied nations to help defend the world from terrorism. As the field commander, players will strategically place their units around the battlefield and duke it out with these terrorists.


With Field Commander, players will have control over a number of different units that will allow them to effectively defeat their enemies. The game features three different combat types players will encounter, including air, water, and land battles. There are also more than thirty different units, including ground troops, tanks, submarines, helicopters, and stealth fighters. Each of the units plays differently than the others, and all of them feel somewhat unique. In usual strategy style, there are certain units that will be far more effective against certain enemies than others. After all, who would expect a regular ground troop to be as effective against an enemy tank as, say, an air unit?


Aside from the strategy involved in choosing where to place your units, players will also have to strategically decide on what units to purchase. Throughout the game you will be able to use factories, airports, and seaports to create your many different units. Of course, the better the unit the more expensive that unit will cost, which is where capturing buildings comes into play. Field Commander features a few different types of buildings, each of which will award its owner a certain amount of revenue every turn. The most a player can receive from a building is $1,000, while the least amount is $500. Capturing buildings also has other advantages for your units, including healing and giving extra defense to any unit that is located on the building. However, buildings can only be captured by ground units, including grunts, snipers, and special ops. In order to capture a building, one of these units must be located on the building and repeatedly use the capture command and give up their turn.


Throughout Field Commander, the environments can also be used to give certain defensive advantages to your units. As I already stated, placing a unit on the location of a building will increase their defense, as will several different types of terrain. However, there are also certain types of terrains that will lower your defense, including swamps. There are also terrains that will limit certain units' movements, such as a vehicle trying to travel through a swamp. But there are also environments, such as an area of trees, where vehicles will not be able to travel through, and in order to get through you will have to use your gunfire to destroy the locations.


Unlike many strategy games that feature several different menus that might make the game a little confusing, Field Commander is pretty much straightforward. There are certain units that have special abilities, but you wonít have to deal with several menu screens. Even if you arenít familiar with the strategy genre, Field Commander should be very simple to pick up and play. Plus, the game even features a few tutorials early on to inform you how the different battle types work, but as I said, most wonít really have to deal with these because the game is pretty basic, though still remains to be very fun.


As for the enemy artificial intelligence, Field Commander features some strong AI. While enemies normally wonít pull off any ridiculous commands, such as sending a lone grunt against a tank, they tend to not use their resources very well. Often enemies will head for the cheaper and weaker units rather than saving up and building some of the more powerful units.


With a total of thirty different missions, a complete playthrough of Field Commander will more than likely keep you occupied for around ten hours. While the story mode is enjoyable, one of the best aspects of the game is what you can do outside of the storyline. Field Commander is one of those games that allow for a large amount of multiplayer value, with players being able to go online and play or use the ad hoc to go one-on-one with a friend. The game also gives the ability for players to create their own maps and take them online for others to download and play.


Graphically, Field Commander is an overall good-looking game. The environments and the units each look nice, but some of the units could be a little more polished and at times can be a little difficult to distinguish from one another. Still, the explosions and destructions of all the vehicle units are nicely done, too.


As for the sound department, Field Commander features some top-notch work. The game contains some great music and quite a bit of voice work that takes place both during missions and in the mission briefings. Plus it doesnít hurt that most of the voice work isnít too shabby, either. Field Commander also features some excellent sound effects. Whether it is the firing of tanks, exploding vehicles, or the screams of a dying soldier, the game is top notch.


If you own a PSP, and youíve been waiting for that one great strategy game to add to your collection, then youíre in luck. Field Commander is that game and is an easy recommendation for any fan of the strategy genre. With its fun yet basic gameplay, great presentation, and loads of multiplayer action, Field Commander is a great game!


Final Grade: 85%


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