Command & Destroy
Reviewed by Brandy Shaul
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2008-03-18 Nintendo DS Strategy E (Everyone) ECI / DSI Games

Where most real time strategy games allow players to build and design their own empires, usually by conquering a nation or planet, few let you play the game from both the perspective of the conqueror and the conquered. However, Command & Destroy is one such game that gives players the opportunity to play as both human military commanders and as alien squad leaders.

After choosing your side, you are challenged with a series of missions in a level based format, with 12 missions for each side. Each mission varies in length and in difficulty and can range in tasks from simple repair missions to complex eliminate the enemy objectives.

If you choose the human side, your main goals will be to discover enemy hideouts and eliminate the aliens with the ultimate goal being to protect the planet from an eventual alien invasion. Secondary objectives on the human side normally focus on earning credits by finding oil reserves to power your many vehicles and machines.

Likewise, if you choose the alien side, you will also need to find power for your machinery, but instead of protecting a planet, your main goal will be to wipe out the human race.

Like in most real time strategy games, ground level is viewed from a top down perspective, with the stylus providing most of the controls, while the menu itself is on the top screen. Conveniently, the shoulder buttons allow you to swap the map and the menu locations at will, allowing you to interact directly with the menu by way of the stylus. While one would think that the DS would be a perfect canvas for such games, I am sad to say that the controls were less than perfect in terms of response time, if they responded at all.

For instance, to command your troops, whether alien or human, you tap on an individual soldier and then tap a spot on the map where you would like them to go. However, since the game map is presented on such a small scale, your soldiers end up looking like random globs of blue or green pixels and can be very hard to control.

Under most circumstances, you'll end up tapping too many times, causing your entire army to follow the same command, even if they are desperately needed somewhere else. So, you?‚…ll have to take the time to send all of your troops back to their original positions, and you've gained no ground in terms of completing the mission.

After a few missions, this becomes less of a problem, since practice does make perfect, after all, in terms of knowing where the proper tapping locations are, but it is still a frustrating occurrence.

That's not to say, however, that the gameplay is terrible or is entirely flawed. Once you get the hang of it, it's actually quite fun to watch your pixilated army attack the enemy. Likewise, exploring new terrain, which is only unlocked once troops are sent there, and building new structures is truly satisfying.

What is flawed, however, is the overall look of the game. While larger buildings on the map look detailed and crisp, in mostly dull colors representing the baron, war-ravaged landscape, the troops themselves are downright tiny, lacking any real detail.

One positive in terms of technical issues is the sound department. The background music is epic and deep, which fits very appropriately with the "War of the Worlds" theme presented in the game. Furthermore, when you are able to accurately command your troops, you are met with a subtle "yes commander", or something similar, voice clip. Now, maybe it's just me, but real voice clips in a budget title came as quite the pleasant surprise.

Another surprising factor was the lack of a game save feature. Instead, gameplay is documented using mission code passwords that let you resume where you left off. While this may not seem like a big deal, it also requires gamers to have a pad of paper nearby at all times to write down codes, making playing while on the go, like on a train or bus, a less convenient option.

In the end, if you can get past the disappointing graphics and finicky controls, Command & Destroy offers enough strategic gameplay to provide enjoyment for the diehard RTS fans among us, but leaves something to be desired for those who are unfamiliar with the genre.

Special thanks to Alison Kain and DSI Games for providing a copy of this title.