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Commanders: Attack of the Genos

Score: 83%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Sierra
Developer: SouthEnd Interactive
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 4; 2 - 4 (Online)
Genre: Turn-Based Strategy/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

Commanders: Attack of the Genos could easily be described as a "lite" version of the DS's Advance Wars series. Although it doesn't push the genre in any new directions, it is still a solid, fun game that serves a genre that doesn't get much play on consoles.

Commander's visuals have a slick, 1930's sci-fi feel which is reminiscent of Tommorrowland at Disney World or, to some extent, Bruce Timm's Batman: The Animated Series. Everything has a streamlined, Art Deco look with lots of curves and long lines which help develop the game's campy "Future that could have been" feel. Designs are complimented by the unit's large size and bright colors, which also give the game some personality. There are also a number of special effects, like explosions, that pump a little more life into the game. The feel is further pushed along by the game's soundtrack. Though the bright, upbeat tunes don't exactly compliment the sci-fi feel, they fit really well with the game's off-beat, funny storyline and characters.

The only major issue as far as graphics are concerned is the camera, which sometimes makes the battlefield hard to see. This is a minor issue that is easy to work around.


Commanders: Attack of the Genos takes place in a world where the secrets of the atom were discovered at the turn of the 20th century. This discovery allowed technology to grow at a rapid pace, eventually allowing mankind to create a race of super humans, which they dubbed the Genos. Since the Genos are superior to normal humans, they are rejected from society and exiled to another land. At the start of the game the Genos have returned, armed and ready for war.

Missions put you in charge of a small army with the goal of defeating enemies and controlling installations on the map. Every turn, players move their units around the map, either attacking enemies or getting into position to attack. Each side also has a base and can capture new buildings, like factories and refineries, which offer more resources and a way to produce new units.

Much of the game's strategy comes from knowing when to attack and how to do it. Both the types of units you're using, as well as the terrain itself dictate your strategy. Different unit types have their own set of skills and drawbacks, building a paper-rock-scissor relationship. Infantry units can travel long distances and are the only units that can capture buildings, however they are also incredibly weak against anything except other infantry units. Other units, like artillery, can do massive damage, though are completely useless if you can get close enough. Moving on a road allows you to cover ground quickly, though they also leave your units open to attack. Alternately, taking the high ground limits movement speed, but can give you a tactical advantage when attacking.

The game takes place over 15 story-based missions which include everything from large-scale battles to missions where you need to guide a small force through a maze of enemies. Battles also take place over multiplayer games. Four players can battle via split screen or over Live. Like most of the game, multiplayer isn't anything revolutionary, but it still solid fun.


Commanders: Attack of the Genos isn't an overly challenging game, though it isn't something you'll roll right through either. As with nearly every other game of its type, success directly relates to how well you manage your resources and units. Even the largest of attack forces can suffer defeat if the orders aren't sound. At the same time, the A.I. isn't too swift at adapting to changes in strategy, so you can sometimes get a few cheap hits in by fooling it into thinking you're using a particular strategy. I found flanking maneuvers particularly useful.

Even with a slow A.I., there are a few key issues that add some challenge to Commanders. Most maps have special conditions, which present a twist to strategies. Though all units have a foil, there are some that aren't well balanced. Artillery is probably one the main offenders since it is easy to place them in a position where they can rule the battlefield. However, I'll stop short at calling it a game-breaking exploit, though it can lead to awkward standstills in battles.

Game Mechanics:

Commands are issued through a series of menus and movement is grid-based. All units have a set number of action points which determine how many times they can move or attack per turn. This allows for strategic flexibility and makes it possible to run a unit from a short distance, launch an attack, and then pull back to safety. The movement grid will shrink based on the number of usable points, taking some of the guesswork out of planning.

As you uncover more of the map, you'll also come across special tokens. If collected, tokens will either grant special bonuses to your unit or some kind of punishment. This adds a bit of risk/reward to the game, though the negative effects sometimes feel a little cheap to the point where you probably won't want to fool with them. Battles also showcase a bit of randomness; some attacks will randomly glance off their target. It's great when your units are the beneficiary, though it seems to take a little away from the overall strategy. Granted, random stuff like that happens in a real battle, though the hint of realism doesn't really mesh with rest of the mechanics.

Similar to Advance Wars, each army also comes with a Commanding Officer (CO). CO's are extremely powerful units that possess passive and active skills that can easily turn the tide of battle. Passive skills are always active and affect any friendly unit close to the CO, such as a defense bonus. Active skills are governed by a skill gauge that, once full, allows you to unleash a powerful move - such as an attack that hits everyone within a certain range. Knowing how and when to get the most out of your CO's power is just as big a part of the game's strategy as knowing how to use units. However, it is really easy to become too dependent on COs - which is a sizable drawback. These units are so powerful and costly that, if you lose one in battle, it is difficult to recover.

Though Commanders: Attack of the Genos doesn't do anything new, it puts on a good enough show. Gameplay is fun and addictive, though it doesn't do much to grab anyone who isn't already a fan of the genre. At the same time, since it doesn't push many boundaries, even some hardcore fans will be turned off. Either way it is probably best to try the trial version before you buy. If you do decide to drop 800 points on the game, know that it is money well spent.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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