The tower defense game Commando Jack originally made its way to iPhones way back in 2012, but just recently its developer Colossal Games released this on Steam. So the question on everyone’s mind right now is: is this a ‘quick’ cash-in or this is a port that all PC gamers can be content with ?
And while I’m definitely going to explain more about the game in just a minute I can already answer the question I just brought up: it’s absolutely a game made to make some extra money. No, this isn’t a bad game per se, it’s just not optimized for us PC gamers: the game starts instantly with the first mission, no menus or anything, video options aren’t there and it forces a low resolution game into fullscreen, making the whole thing look blurry as a result (Alt+Enter does work, mind you). Which to me, looks like a really bad start, wouldn’t you agree ?
Thankfully Commando Jack is one of the better tower defense titles out there, and this one gives you the opportunity to shoot some aliens yourself, in first person view. It doesn’t use in-app purchases like the iOS version does, but it does have things like ‘Free coins’ banners at the top of the screen when you’re not killing enemies. It’s not even subtle. Unfortunately, these coins have to be used to buy and upgrade turrets, buy power-ups and also to upgrade your stationary gun, so there’s no way to just not click on it. You’ll get coins by finishing missions, clicking on a Free Coins button every day or by hacking into aliens’ accounts (which can also be done once a day). I never seemed to run out of cash during my game sessions; the game hands out large amounts of coins at the same time. So why does it have to be so in-your-face then ? I honestly have no idea.
There are 45 campaign missions to finish, and then there’s also Endless mode, Mixed mode (normal enemies mixed with fire and ice enemies) and Elemental mode, which throws only ice and fire enemies at you. There are special towers for both these ice and fire enemies, and special ammo can be bought for your stationary gun. Levels aren’t just squares, they have all kind of different shapes and because of that It’s not always easy to create a long, difficult maze for enemies to walk through.
If an enemy gets through you can always go to your stationary gun with the press of a button and kill them yourself. However, your gun can also overheat so it’s necessary to use it with caution. Snipers can also spawn on the battlefield, out of view, and they can only be killed in first person view. It’s fun, but the first few times you might not notice them quickly enough and you’ll probably see your base’s health drop within seconds. After that you’ll most likely pay more attention to your surroundings.
Other than all of things I just mentioned this is your basic tower defense game. That’s not meant as a negative argument, but it’s the same thing as, let’s say, point-and-click adventures. They’re usually the same as far as gameplay is concerned, but sometimes they have a little bit more variety. The same goes for Commando Jack.
So, apart from the cluttered user interface and the non-existent video options, what’s there to say about this game technically ? Well, the models use some sharp textures, which is good, but the models on the other hand are blocky. Some of it seems intentional, some of it doesn’t. The game does a nice job at showing you landmarks and other country related objects in each of the different locations. London has a Big Ben tower and Japan has cherry trees, for example.
The music seems to change whenever you change cities, so if you’re fighting in Japan you’ll hear music with Japanese influences. The sound effects overall are also very good and clear.
Game length also seems to be good; this could take you several hours to tens of hours if you want to 100% the entire game. I personally think it’s best played in smaller sessions.
Commando Jack doesn’t completely reinvent the genre but the gameplay is fun enough as long as you can ignore the things that clearly show we’re dealing with an iOS port here. From a technical viewpoint I would not recommend it, but as a game I think I would. But just barely. And that’s mainly the reason why this gets a below average rating in my book.