Monday, July 19, 2010

Goblin Commander

Goblin Commander is a curious little game. Not just because of it’s wicked humor or how far it stretch’s the “T” rating, but in that it is a home console developed RTS from way back in 2003. Today we’re still in a transitional stage as more representatives from the genre appear on console. Despite the efforts so far, gamers have not been particularly eased into what was for the longest time a PC exclusive genre. Goblin Commander was made to be and ultimately is a logical and fair stepping stone for the novice.

The game features five factions (considerably more than most hardcore RTS’s) playable through a lengthy campaign mode and a PVP skirmish mode. It’s only after you finish the campaign that you sense that something’s missing and that would be a player versus Computer skirmish mode. Still, what the game does offer is polished and more importantly streamlined.

There are only two resources: gold for building/repairing structures and upgrading units. And then there’s souls for creating units. Gold can be found on the field or from destroying almost anything in the environment and souls come from claimable fountains. But the signature mechanic of the game is directly controlling any unit: with one button a strategy game suddenly resembles a third person action game. The explanation for this is that the Goblin Commander (the games protagonist) can turn into a spirit that oversees the war at hand and can posses his minions. This includes the mighty Titans who provide multiple attack options.

The action is kept feverish with delightfully destructible stages and a light physics engine to boot. Goblins also spout green blood as they are slaughtered and their newly upgraded weaponry is visible on every unit. The campaign throws a little of everything at you for the sake variety and a good challenge. Earlier in the game the focus is shear destruction and flanking your enemy’s camps in the forest. Later on several consecutive levels play like a survival-horror game, forcing you to get by with limited resources in a dark swamp. The campaign can be finished in roughly 12 hours and multiplayer option makes for a good party game thanks to the overall simplicity.

The RTS’s diehards probably will scoff at the truncated strategy and it is true that many fights can be won by selecting all units and then flood the enemy with them. But that shouldn’t keep the curious away from this charming and very unique little title.

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