C’mon you Apes! You Want to Live Forever?!
Starship Troopers is a staple of any ’90s sci-fi nerd. The film was directed by Paul Verhoeven and he brought the same satirical eye to this film as he did Robocop. The only difference here is that while the former film had the magnificent Peter Weller carrying the film, this one had a cast that wasn’t quite up to the task. Be that as it may, the premise is one of the best out there and Starship Troopers: Terran Command seeks to bring real-time strategy sensibilities to that premise instead of focusing on a single unit of soldiers.
This change does remove some of the attachment the audience had for Rico and the other Grunts in the film. Instead, you are detached from the game as you watch from an isometric view as troops carry out their orders and confront the bug menace. This carries through to the unit acknowledgements. Similar to classic RTS games, each unit type has its own acknowledgement and, just as in the classics, those acknowledgements can become grating in their repetition. If you’ve heard an infantry unit shout out “C’mon you apes” once, you will have heard it a thousand times by the end of a mission.
Something to note up front – the review code initially limited me to ten missions on the planet Kwalasha. A harsh planet. A bug plan… ahem. Actually, it’s a human mining colony that has been overrun by the bugs and it’s your job to fix that.
Maps are probably the most important aspect for me in a good RTS. You need detailed environments to be able to judge pathways for your troops, choke points, and line of sight. You want interesting details to keep you guessing as to where an enemy may launch his attack from. And you want plenty of terrain features to help you launch attacks. Starship Troopers: Terran Command has all that. Maps are set up almost like a traditional MOBA, with plenty of lanes to create chokepoints and angles of attack – for both you and the enemy. Scattered across the map are resources for you to capture and while of no importance to the bugs, capture them you must in order for you to call in reinforcements from orbit.
This is where the game deviates from the Starcraft formula and hews closer to Dawn of War. Base building is kept to a minimum. You must build on to your base in order to progressively call-in heavier units, but resource management is limited to finding supplies on the map or completing objectives during the missions to earn “War Resources”. No mucking about with workers and gathering three types of currency. While you only have to scavenge to get resources, your enemy needs none of that. They just come at you in waves until you find and clear out their hives. This can make the game feel a bit one-sided, but it never feels cheap.
Another mechanic that speeds up the basic gameplay is unit generation or, more accurately, unit replenishment. When you call in a unit it takes 10-15 seconds to arrive and, as troops fall in battle, instead of building whole new units you can simply replenish your ranks to get back to full strength. This simulates the realities of war and retains the themes from the film that everyone is disposable and replaceable.
The game as it stands is not perfect. I experienced a couple of crashes to the desktop. While unit pathfinding is near-perfect, with troops finding their way around terrain easily, what’s not is their tunnel vision. They will ignore attacking enemies until their reach their destination, forcing you to spend time shepherding your troops when you could be calling in more units back at base or planning ahead. While the map design is good, the setting gets a bit much by the third or fourth mission. Set exclusively on this one planet, the brown desert tones become monotonous. Anyone who watched the brilliant Roughnecks cartoon knows that the game could have taken you to planets with varied and challenging environments.
Starship Troopers: Terran Command feels like a good sequel to the film, more so than the actual direct-to-DVD sequels that have been released over the years. The game carefully recreates the scenarios where arrogant mankind is continually pushed to the brink by the seemingly endless bug swarms. The units at your command and those you will face are varied, keeping you on your toes throughout each mission and across the entire game. While maybe not as polished as a big-budget release from the genre’s heyday, it does more than its fair share to keep the genre alive and in the public consciousness. For any fans of the film or the genre, this is a worthy addition to your Steam library.
A review code for Starship Troopers: Terran Command was provided to Gameblur by the publisher
Starship Troopers: Terran Command (PC) ReviewStarship Troopers: Terran Command (PC) Review
Ease of Play8/10 Very Good
- Worthy sequel to the film
- Fast paced
- Pared down mechanics to keep you focused on the bug hunt
- Drab colour palette
- A little unstable