Planet Commander – Review

As anyone who has spent more than twenty seconds perusing this blog can tell, I like space combat games. I have been a fan of the genre since I discovered Elite, way back in 1981. Since then I have played literally dozens of these games, including StarLancer, Freespace I and II, The Homeworld series, Freelancer, and of course my two current faves, Vega Conflict and Dreadnought.

Planet Commander is the latest in this long line. I’ve been playing this for a couple of months now. You start with one ship, and can unlock and buy more as you progress through the game. Like Dreadnought, this is an online multiplayer game: you participate in online battles up to 4v4. You can only fly one ship at a time. If the ship is killed, you can move on to another of your ships until you win, leave the game, or all of your ships are destroyed. You then get points (which improve your ranking and level) and cash (Coins and Crystals). The ships come in different shapes and sizes, ranging from Frigates through Destroyers, Interdictors, Cruisers, Battleships, all the way up to the Dreadnoughts.

The game is a lot of fun and is well-balanced; my one most glaring criticism is the pricing structure. Things start off well enough; an introductory pack costs about $3, and a follow-up pack which unlocks a ship costs another $8 or so. They are decent enough value, and most players can have a lot of fun for $11. The following pack, which unlocks the Kingsword Cruiser (I find myself wondering whether that is pronounced “King Sword” or King’s Word“) is just under $17, which is a little expensive for me – but the ship alone costs $27 to unlock, so there you go.

Many of the ships automatically unlock when you reach a given level, but some ships – including the top ship in each tier – can only be unlocked with a liberal application of cold, hard cash.

  • Wyrm Frigate $10.49
  • Olympus Destroyer $12.49
  • Reaper Interdictor $16.99
  • Kingsword Cruiser $26.99
  • Soul Catcher Battleship $42.99
  • Nemesis Dreadnought $55.99
  • Tyrant Dreadnought $112.49

That adds up to $278.43, which is way too high for a phone/tablet game.

In my opinion, such a game should not cost a player more than $100 in total… in which case those ships are overpriced by a factor of three.

Who are you calling an “Imperial Star-Destroyer”?

Bottom line: a fun game, especially if you have a tablet (I have three!). Decent value if you buy the first two packs, and you will get months of play out of that modest outlay. But the subsequent ships are overpriced, and if you play it long enough I am pretty sure that you will come up against a pay-to-win barrier.

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