Developer: Konami Digital Entertainment
Price: FREE
Version: 1.1.2
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Playtime Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

I find myself stuck in the awkward no-man’s land between familiarity and rabid fandom. I’d call myself a Star Wars fan, certainly, but not I’m not a Fan. Even so, I was scowling with disgust and groaning out loud when Princess Leia was asking me to help her fend off storm troopers in a spectacularly cornball re-imagining of the first film’s opening moments. And yet, despite the patronizing fan service that makes even my low-level fanboy blood boil, Star Wars: Force Collection is actually quite good.

forcecollection01forcecollection05The basic framework is similar to most other iOS CCGs: players collect cards representing various recognizable characters, upgrade and combine them, create powerful teams using their favorites, battle other players, and complete simple quests for extra cash and experience. The cards themselves depict well over 200 heroes, villains, and “not quite sure where they stand” characters spanning all six movies; each with their own attack, defense, health, and range stats. That’s right, “range.” See, it’s the things that Force Collection does differently that make it so interesting; and it does quite a few things differently.

Combat in Force Collection is a bizarre affair. Players can set up their armies in a grid – using their own cards that specialize in close, medium, and long range – then watch as they fight their opponent’s forces in a mock battle. Like actually fight, with little lightsaber animations and everything. It’s an unexpected twist that makes these battles legitimately entertaining to watch. Card evolutions and upgrades are a bit different from the norm as well. Each card can only be evolved twice (i.e. it has three stages), and they can only be evolved with the same exact card. So for example a Stage 1 Luke can’t be used to evolve a Stage 2. It makes the process a lot less bothersome, really. As does card enhancement; which allows players to level up their cards using credits (or crystals, the premium currency) rather than other cards.

forcecollection08forcecollection04It’s unfortunate that such an interesting and entertaining card game includes so much unnecessary pandering. Seeing notable characters is cool and all but Force Collection shoves them down players’ throats way too often, especially in the beginning. It’s not “neat” so much as “painful and embarrassing.” Thankfully most of it is stuffed into the tutorial. The inconsistent and often lengthy load times are a far more common problem, particularly before and after battles.

The initial moments in Star Wars: Force Collection filled me with a sense of dread thanks to the utterly ridiculous story segments, but the actual game is much, much better. The load times could use some streamlining, but ultimately it’s a fun CCG that stands out due to its mechanics rather than its license.

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