Star Wars: Force Collection by Konami is a card-based strategy game for iOS and Android that combines the epic Star Wars franchise with the popular mobile card game genre. Collect your favorite Star Wars characters, do battle online or in single player, and try to get the rarest, most powerful cards while becoming a master of the battlefield. With the Star Wars hype machine just beginning to churn its engines as news of the upcoming Disney Star Wars movies leaks in, is Star Wars: Force Collection a move to remind people of a galaxy far, far away?
Star Wars: Force Collection plays like an assortment of a dozen or so mini-games, all of them dipped in hot Star Wars batter and deep fried. The single player mode takes the player through all six movies in the Star Wars franchise, beginning (non-chronologically) with “A New Hope,” the fourth episode. The game kicks off aboard the Tantive IV just as Darth Vader’s Star Destroyer looms into view, hearkening back to the very first shot of the very first Star Wars move. You play as a nameless “other” character, tagging along beside the heroes of the saga. Princess Leia even lampshades this new character’s presence, asking “Who are you again?” before jumping into the action. A quick tutorial later, and the player is dumped on to Tatooine to go help floppy-haired moppet Luke Skywalker.
The single player mode has a few modes of play. One mini-game is the “fruit Jedi” mode, casting the player in the role of a green (or red, but more on that later) lightsaber, that you swipe through Stormtroopers, Imperial soldiers, mooks, and the like. It’s a little mindless, but the fun comes from the cards and blueprints and bits and bobs the soldiers drop as you swipe them into oblivion. Boss battles consist of managing a power meter that bounces between strong and weak, and you have to tap at just the right time for maximum damage.
Other times, you run into elite squads that thrust the gameplay into the “card battle” realm. Combat consists of a large grid filled with two formations: yours, and the enemy’s. You choose your formation in advance, as does your enemy, but the battle itself is out of your control. The cards duke it out, the end result determined by who has the better cards, who arranged them the most strategically, and how much money you’ve spent leveling up your cards. That’s in-game and out-of-game money, by the way.
The multiplayer aspect of the game involves the card battle mechanic described above. You get cards from the quest mode, and can use them in multiplayer to knock the Sith out of any poor online punk that wanders into the sites of your T-16. There are multiple modes, one of the more devious one being a “Loot” mode that allows you to steal blueprints and items from other players. Blueprints are pretty precious, allowing you to build the game’s vehicles. Vehicles like X-Wings and TIE Fighters and all the Star Wars favorites, vehicles that are well worth the extra price and pain. Defeating a player’s cards and knowing that you’re also stealing goodies from him has a devilish fun to it.
SW: Force Collection is a simple mobile card game, so don’t expect much in the graphics department. The battle effects are cheesy, but the character portraits are spot-on and fun. Watching Boba Fett and Luke Skywalker go at it is always a hoot, even if they’re just on little cards that go “pew pew.” The sprites you fight in the “swipe” combat mode are 2 dimensional, and a little blurry at the edges, but otherwise serviceable.
This isn’t the kind of game one plays for the amazing eye candy, but Konami could have tried a bit harder to polish it up. The menus and the screens are all too cluttered, displaying about 200% more information than ought to be viewed at once. The battles are overly simplistic, as far as visuals go, displaying swinging pendulum lightsabers and flashing blaster bolts and not much else.
Konami has done their homework – card games appeal to a certain kind of person, and Star Wars: Force Collection is aiming an X-Wing right at their hearts. The game uses all the bells and whistles gamers have come to associate with the mobile-style addiction-fest. Energy points to curtail playtime, and then offering to sell the player energy-replenishing crystals for real human currency. Battle points to slow down online battles, card packs to collect and purchase, credits to buy to upgrade your cards, the whole package. Completionist and OCD gamers are definitely in to spend a little extra money for their trouble.
Force Collection also has a very rudimentary dark-side / light-side mechanic that amounts to a text prompt that asks “Do you want to help Luke, or Boba Fett?” and as boss battles pop up, you choose to throw your lot in with a dark side or light side character. Your own “side meter” fills up in the desired direction, meaning that all characters in your party will mesh better if they’re all the same alignment. This also means that about half the cards you receive will be useless to you, because it’s best to gang good guys (or bad guys) together to match your meter. So, back to the card packs with you, and the dire (if futile) hope that you’ll have enough crystals, and won’t have to spend cash.
Star Wars: Force Collection isn’t a bad game, but it’s disparate elements don’t gel enough for it to be great. Star Wars always has its hooks in, and the IP will drag a dedicated fan along just to hear the next heaping helping of John Williams in their ear, or to see if they landed that elusive Darth Vader card. It isn’t a re-skin of another card game, which was an admirable choice on Konami’s part. If Star Wars: Force Collection was anything but a mobile game, it wouldn’t merit a purchase.
But if someone is going to stand in line at the DMV or the bank, having a lightsaber and a pile of Stormtroopers to cut through will definitely make the experience more bearable.