If you’ve been hanging around the app store for any length of time, you’ve seen this game before. Ostensibly a Pokemon-esque game of deck building and battling, this is little more than a game of tapping, tapping, and more tapping until you build up a collection of virtual cards which you can then upgrade via various in-game currencies, all of which can be purchased for real world cash. There are two things making this title worth a second look: first its license, second its one area of strategy over most games of this ilk, that of editing your formation. Will they be enough to save it?
Star Wars Force Collection follows most of the tropes of its genre. There are single-player “quests” that consist of tapping on static targets to get a small chance of pulling a new card; there are “boss battles” where you play a simple reflex game which nets you in-game currency; you are encouraged to recruit “allies” among the other players, the vast majority of whom you’ll never know otherwise; the cards you find can be upgraded by spending in game currency and sacrificing your lesser cards to enhance your greater cards’ capabilities.
The main thing setting this game apart is the battle formations. While battles are handled automatically as is typical for the genre, the player has a pretty good deal of control over the battle formation. Battles take place on a grid, and different cards have different ranges. You need to define a leader and then array your forces so that the leader stays alive, the grunts take most of the enemy fire, and you are making sure to take full advantage of the cards’ various ranges. The game also includes the concept of card stacks (generic cards like Stormtroopers that cram an entire squad into a single grid space) and vehicles, units that require several quests to unlock and which take up multiple spaces in your formation, but are much more powerful than individual fighters. All this adds up to strategic options that, once you build your collection up a bit, require actual thought and decision making when assembling your squad.
While the formation options does give this game some legs, the freemium model absolutely destroys anything worthwhile about it. The ever-present and universally reviled timer mechanism is in force – each tap in the quest mode, necessary to gather cards, counts against an arbitrary Energy stat, and once it’s gone you either have to wait for half an hour or pony up premium currency, which you earn at a very slow rate for killing bosses. While the vehicles in theory make for interesting force construction options, the only way to complete them is by randomly winning “blueprint” sections from other players – and even at this early point in the games’ life cycle, these battles essentially cannot be won without paying real money to get better cards. The cards themselves are over-priced, and given the access a company like Konami should have to the source material, the graphics are oddly uninspired.
Geeks, gamers, Star Wars fans, lend me your ear. I come to bury this app, not to praise it. The evil that it does is dark and vast; the good is but interr’d with its bones. I desperately wanted something, anything to like about this game, and the worst part of it is that for the genre, Star Wars Force Collection actually delivered that with its force construction options. The lackluster performance of every other aspect of the game, combined with a lust for profit that would make a Toydarian blush, makes this a title to absolutely avoid.