Commando Jack, a Windows Phone game that puts you in the middle of an alien fight

Commando Jack is a tower defense game for Windows Phone 8 that has you battling wave after wave of alien invaders. While game play isn't much different than other tower defense game, Commando Jack steps out slightly by letting you jump inside a defensive turret for a first person perspective on things.

The game has plenty of weapons upgrades, a wide range of enemies to defeat and several global venues to defend. Graphics are nicely drawn up and with plenty of gaming variations and difficulties, Commando Jack will keep you on your toes. Commando Jack has been well received over on iOS and should see similar success here on the Windows Phone platform.

Game Layout

When you first launch Commando Jack, the game sends you straight into game play where the first two levels serve as tutorial guide. These levels aren't very challenging, being designed to guide you through game play. The game isn't difficult to pick up but pay attention to the tutorial because asides from re-playing these levels, there isn't an independent help section available to refresh your memory with.

One quick side note on load times with Commando Jack is that they can take a while to complete (painfully so on low-memory devices such as the Lumia 520). Sometimes the delay is such that you will think the game has frozen up. Game play, on the other hand, ran smoothly and I did not experience the random crashes that have been noted in the Windows Phone Store reviews for Commando Jack.

Once you complete the tutorial levels, the game shifts to a global map where you get to battle the aliens from six regions of the World. All totaled, Commando Jack has forty-six levels of play that are progressively unlocked and re-playable. After completing the tutorials and reaching the map, a main menu will appear each time you launch Commando Jack, which will have options to start the game, view more games from the developer and view your coins/high score.

In the lower right corner of the map view is a button with an "up" arrow, which will pull up the game's settings cog. Tap the cog to view the game settings that includes aiming sensitivity, effects/music levels, access to your gaming stats, the about screen and a few turret control options.

In addition to the forty-six levels, you also have three gaming styles, four difficulty levels and two gaming modes. The gaming styles include original, mixed and elemental, which dictates the types of aliens you will face. The elemental aliens are harder to take out. The two gaming modes are campaign and endless. The campaign mode has you taking the aliens on one level at a time while the endless game continues until the aliens overtake your turret and suck your brains out.

Game Play

Again, game play is scattered about six regions of the globe that are progressively unlocked. You begin the game in London with six levels. Tap on the highlighted region, choose your difficulty, gaming mode, enemy style and then the level you would like to battle in.

Prior to the start of each level of play (after the tutorial levels that is), you will be presented with a set-up screen that has tabbed sections to show you the types of enemies you will face and upgrade opportunities for your turret, guns and ammo. The more tab that is present will provide you with the opportunity to make in-app purchases for coins.

Commando Jack has twenty-one weapons for purchase, thirty-eight upgrades and three elemental styles of weapons (useful in defeating the elemental aliens). You also have a wide range of ammo styles and bonus items that are available for IAP.

The game screen itself has your tower defense controls spread across the bottom of the screen, vital statistics in the upper left corner of the screen and a pause button in the upper right. Pausing the game will present you with a few settings options (aim sensitivity and effects/music volume levels).

As you would suspect, the main goal with Commando Jack is to destroy all the aliens before they destroy your main turret. Your turret options are to the lower right of the screen and placing a turret will cost you a few coins. Tapping the turret icon will pull up a placement grid on the battle arena. A red square will be highlighted to indicate where the aliens will start from and the best strategy is to build a maze or gauntlet of turrets that the aliens must walk through to get to the main turret.

In the event aliens survive the gauntlet or you simply want to join in on the action, you can tap the eyeball icon in the far left, lower corner of the screen to jump behind the main turret. When you do, the left side of the screen controls the turrets movement and tapping the right fires your turret. The turret gun overheats easily so be careful with your bursts. If the turret gun overheats, it will take several seconds to cool down where you can resume slaying aliens.

When you're ready to step back and manage your automatic turrets, just tap the eye icon a second time.

As you upgrade and buy more turrets, they will become available in the form of additional icons that are spread across the lower right side of the screen. In the upper left corner you will see the enemy alien in play, your health meter and your current build point level. It costs money to build turrets and as you wipe out the aliens, you earn build points. The more powerful the turret, the more build points needed.

There are additional buttons on the gaming screen will give you a boost in power for your turret, boosts in building points and adding larger turrets to the mix. While the basic game play is simple to pick-up on, it would be helpful if the developer included a help section to cover some of these features.

When you have defeated each level of alien incursions, your gaming stats will appear and based on your performance (number of aliens killed, damage inflicted on you turret, etc.) you'll be award coins that can be spent upgrading and unlocking additional weapons.

Overall Impression

Commando Jack is yet another Windows Phone tower defense gaming title, it is a nice addition to the Store's library. Graphics aren't too shabby, game play challenging and it is a nice touch to be able to jump into a turret and join the action.

Commando Jack is a free, ad-supported game for Windows Phone 8. The ads consists of ad banners on the menu screens and a full-page ad that pops up in between levels. The game screen is ad-free and while I'm not a fan of the full-page ads, Commando Jack doesn't try to beat you up with them.

I do have a couple of nits with Commando Jack. For starters, the game has a lot of variables and while the tutorial does a nice job of walking you through basic game play, the game needs a help section.

Next up, there were times my finger got in the way of placing a turret, which resulted in a bad placement. I wouldn't mind a confirmation of placement to avoid screwing things up. You can zoom into the game screen and touch scroll around the battlefield but then you lose sight of the big picture.

Last up is the load times that are unusually long for Commando Jack. Load times for Asphalt 8: Airborne (which I consider graphically intense) were shorter. While Commando Jack is available for low-memory devices, the load times tend to make the game unplayable.

Still, while I have my concerns nothing was detrimental with Commando Jack when played on a Windows Phone with at least 1GB of RAM. It is one of the more enjoyable tower defense games available and if you have a little patience, well worth a try.

  • Commando Jack - Windows Phone 8 - Free - Store Link

George Ponder

George is the Reviews Editor at Windows Central, concentrating on Windows 10 PC and Mobile apps. He's been a supporter of the platform since the days of Windows CE and uses his current Windows 10 Mobile phone daily to keep up with life and enjoy a game during down time.