Commando Jack Review | MOUSE n JOYPAD

Commando Jack Review



Tower Defence games and I have a love-hate relationship. I would never seek them out, or play them in my spare time. But on those special school days, when all your IT work was finished, you would be furiously scanning the internet for a flash game site that wasn’t blocked. Sure, the search was difficult, with dead ends at every turn, but then you found one. You found a small, almost unnoticeable site with about five games in its library. And one of these was bound to be from the “Bloons Tower Defence” series. You set up little monkey towers, watch them throw darts at balloons, getting crazy weapons along the way, competing with friends and generally having a good time. I remember thinking to myself “Wow, these are fun! Why did I ever hate these?” And then it happened. The difficulty spikes almost vertically, so your progress (and enjoyment) hit the wall in front of you. Your units are vastly underpowered. Resources become scarce, and waves of enemies appear too fast to manage. The light hearted monkey game turns into a catalyst of evil. After an hour of fruitlessly trying to stop the balloons, you and your friends give up. You’ve been defeated. You make a vow never to play that horrid monstrosity again. The game knows, however. You’ll be back. It may be a week, a month, or a year. But one day you’ll finish your work early. And you’ll do the same search, and find the same game. You’ll forget the dreadful experience of the past, and the cycle continues.

Bottom line, Tower Defence games are evil. They suck you in with simple controls, mechanics and concepts, before throwing everything it has at you, faster than you can think. This method of ramping the stakes up is artificial and unappreciated since the game doesn’t actually get harder, you just have more enemies to deal with. Something that adapts to your methods, that’s impervious to certain tactics, that’s difficulty done correctly.

Commando Jack avoids the artificial trap for the most part, before sadly falling headfirst into it. You are Commando Jack, who has to protect the world from aliens. While I wasn’t expecting the storyline to be on par with Heavy Rain, it would be nice to not have an muscle bound guy defending the Earth single-handedly with nothing but a few big guns and one even bigger gun. The levels allow you to place turrets in pretty much anyplace you want, except occupied places. This allows you to set the paths that the aliens have to take, shooting them along the way. Traps and such can also be placed to slow the aliens down. Later, fire and ice aliens join the battle, so the opposite element has to be used to dispatch them effectively. But the main attraction of Commando Jack is the Commando himself. He operates a big turret at the opposite end of the stage. Anyone who gets too close can be shot to pieces. This was obviously the feature the developers cared about more, since aliens all have weak spots which are placed in different parts of their bodies depending on their type. These weak spots can only be hit by Jack, since he has the precision that the turrets lack. The audio is forgettable. Generic military sounding music, with stock “bangs”, shot and alien sounds. Nothing adventurous.

Before I go on, it must be said that this is a port of a mobile game. Meaning that this was meant to be played on a small screen at short intervals. That being said, there are some aspects that make its mobile past very obvious. For instance, the graphics. While they’re serviceable on the PC, the size of your screen will determine how good it looks, due to the resolution. On mine, it doesn’t look amazing. Blocky, but not too blurry. The lack of any real graphical options in the settings also make this more pronounced. The levels are all very short, even for TD games. While this was to cater for the way mobile games are played, this probably should have been changed when it made the transition. The controls are a little dodgy too, with no mouse support for the turret itself. And finally, the price. In a world of free mobile games, you will find it hard to find a game that sells itself for a fiver, let alone £6.99. In fact, I looked it up for IOS and Android. And it’s free. Free! So my only question is who thought it would be a good idea to sell this on Steam for actual, real money, while it’s free (I repeat, free!) on the platform it was intended for? I can answer that question easily. Money. Why release something for free, with only a slight possibility of squeezing a couple pounds out of the fools who actually buy extra nukes or whatever, when you can wring almost seven guaranteed pounds out of those who buy it for PC? This is unacceptable. Before writing this review, I knew this was a mobile port, and just assumed that it was sold on IOS and Android for a lower price. But seeing the lack of any price tag on an inferior device has genuinely put me in a bad mood. I still had fun playing the game itself, no doubt about that, but this shenanigan has tainted my experience with this. Shame on you, Commando Jack.