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It's always awkward when you reach that on-the-fence moment where you're pretty sure you hate the game you're playing, but you just can't seem to stop plugging away. That sums up my experience with Star Wars Force Collection pretty accurately. As a huge Star Wars nerd, I appreciate the sight- and sound-driven homage to a galaxy far, far away found throughout this virtual collectible card game. The actual game itself, however, is on shakier ground than Luke's X-Wing parked in the swamps of Dagobah.
Force Collection hinges on the thrill of collecting cards adorned with characters from the vast Star Wars film franchise, and then using them to battle against virtual and human opponents alike. While the shoddy interface does little to inspire confidence, the photographic cards evoke nostalgia and are nice to look at. Each has its own stats that play into its combat effectiveness, and you can spend both real-world and virtual cash to boost a card's power on the battlefield. The game does a good job of giving you opportunities to obtain new cards, too, even simulating the random fun of buying a booster pack and seeing what's inside.
Battles are far less exciting, unfortunately. In the main quest mode, you'll spend energy to progress through different regions battling Stormtroopers, bosses, and other foes. You'll simply run out the clock in these encounters, swinging your lightsaber away until you run out of energy and have to wait minutes to recharge — assuming you don't want to spend pocket cash to speed things along. One-hit kills make this feel like a pointless affair of lazily tapping the screen, and earning experience that lets you level up is the only boon.
Formation battles are slightly more involved, as they have you slotting your cards into a grid before charging into the fray against opponents. Watching the flurry of lightsabers swipes and laser blasts that ensues as the cards clash and whittle each other down is amusing the first few times, but these hands-off encounters amount to little more than skippable cutscenes. Much of the actual gameplay boils down to simple, repetitive screen tapping and resource micromanagement.
The bottom line. Oversimplified card combat and a weak interface sap the fun in this Star Wars fan-fest.
iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone running iOS 5.1 or later
Lots of cool photo cards to battle with. Sound effects and music are spot on.
Weak gameplay is mostly hands-off. Interface is shoddy looking. Online connection required to play.