Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy
January 12th 2004
Introduction:It's great to finally have a positive voice for the goblin population. Goblins are strangely fascinating creatures and Jaleco puts together a great game with these fantasy characters.
The Game:It's rare to come across a Real Time Strategy (RTS) games on the consoles. RTS really hit a peak in the early back on the PC with great titles like Command and Conquer, Starcraft and Warcraft. Developing a RTS on a console is hard job to tackle considering the difference in the control schemes; a joystick instead of a keyboard is a major difference. Not to fear because Jaleco did an amazing job translating the Xbox controller to handle these little buggers and you won't have any problems adapting. The system isn't perfect and their are some drawbacks in controlling the goblin clans. The clans are limited to ten members each and there is no way to divide them into smaller hordes and move them accordingly. This is main problem with the interface if you're used PC RTS. Now that the number one concern is over, I'll tell you a bit about the goblins.
The story behind Goblin Commanders is a simple one which revolves around goblins hordes and the battle for ultimate control of the land of Ogriss . The premise is simple, but if it was too complex I don't think it would be as much fun . The gameplay follows the simple quota and isn't complicated either.
Goblin Commander is paced slower than other RTS which isn't a bad thing. I've experienced some RTS with high paced speeds which can be to fast for 'real' strategy to be implemented. Goblin Commander begins with a tutorial to get you started, which is pretty dull until you advance to the missions involving other goblins hordes. This is where the game starts to shine and you'll have to be ready for some capacious battles with voluminous amounts of green blood.
The game design is linear and doesn't wander from the one map, one objective at a time foundation. The resource gathering has been limited baring you down with only two resources, souls and gold. Souls help you regenerate goblins and gold is used to purchase items like potions, weapon upgrades and weapon machinery. A nice touch in the goblin regeneration is that they are automatically dispatched to join the other members of the horde.
The main activity is smashing and killing in Goblin Commander which is what goblins do best. The level design and landscaping is interesting, and the long battles uphill help give more variety then the standard flat maps. Goblin Commander also demonstrates a regard for size, with buildings and the different types of goblin heights. Most noticeable with the massive Titans which tower over most structures and hills and have huge power advantage (ref: see mojo). The big guys are a blast to play, and nothing is more fun then stomping around eating goblins. Umm, Yum.
Unfortunately Goblin Commander is over just once things get rolling, the game can be finished in about 10hrs. There is a multi-player mode Skirmish with could pass some time with a friend, too bad the Skirmish mode couldn't be played against the AI. That would extend the replay value and gave more value to this title.
Graphics & Sound:The graphics are adequate in Goblin Commander. The environments and characters are created with enough detail to make the world believable, but it won't turn heads. The palette is based around grays which can give off a dreary presentation, they could have had more discrepancy in the colour scheme. Some camera problems are also apparent when zooming around and trying to turn totally around. The larger characters will give the advantage to turn the camera 360 degrees, but the smaller ones only go half way. Question. Why? The graphic department could use a little tweaking, but overall Goblin Commander gets the job done.
It's great to hear a new language introduced to the fantasy world. These goblins talk gibberish and it sounds great. Most the effects and background music are well done in the game, and I'm sure you get a kick out of the commanders and their comments.
Innovation:A great innovation implemented in Goblin Commander is the ability to take control of any unit and set them as the leader of a group. When using a smaller sized goblin the camera zooms from the default aerial view down to a close 3 rd person vantage. The single unit can travel alone or with the group. When you take control of a goblin you might have customizable attacks in specialize goblin species. It's a good idea that other games should borrow from in the future.
Another innovation is a simple as using goblins and creating a believable world around these creatures. The way the story is told makes you think, if there where goblins. this is how they would act.
Mojo:Goblin Commander coolest feature are the massive Titans characters! Using the Titan is a blast; you lounge around being the huge goblin you are; eating other goblins and destroying everything that gets in your path. The variation in character design is mint, some of my favorite units where the Hellfire Lumberjack, Stonekruser Stone Ogre, Lighting Elemental and the Plaugespitter Bile Spitter. The goblins weapons look oversized and menacing, great for mashing brains. Goblins are cool, and I might just have a sweet spot in my heart for the goblin kind from now on. Goblin Commander has the mojo. Who wouldn't want to be a goblin?
Lowdown:The options are limited when it comes to RTS games on the Xbox. If you're really interested in that genre of gaming, Goblin Commander is a must. Goblin Commander wont appeal to every gamer only because of personal taste and not horrible gameplay. This is one of the surprise hits of 2003, and I was amazed when it surpassed my expectations. Goblin Commander is a good product and Jaleco did a great job in accomplishing a fun experience where others have failed.
Gameplay: 7, Graphics/Sound: 7, Innovation: 6, Mojo: 9. Final:7