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Geek Review - Starship Troopers Terran Command

Geek Review – Starship Troopers: Terran Command

The narrative is always an important, but not always the in-focus part of a video game, even though it provides the impetus for players to continue and progress the plot. This kind of makes movies technically an ideal source of inspiration though, for every GoldenEye 007-like success, it is usually accompanied by a few more E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial failures. In the case of The Artistocrats and Slitherine’s Starship Troopers: Terran Command, the real-time strategy title tends to steer towards the latter.

The comparison is not to say that the game is utterly unplayable and pointless, but more on the fact that we wished it could have done more with the property it is based on. In fact, Starship Troopers: Terran Command pretty much nails the visuals and feel of the B movie franchise, and you pretty much cannot go wrong when the threat of alien bugs is quelled by superior firepower.

From old-school propaganda videos in between missions to overcoming seemingly impossible odds against the invaders, the game is as close as we are going to get to being in the movie. Unfortunately, the gameplay itself leaves much to be desired. 

For a real-time strategy game, one might expect plenty of push and pull as players engage in skirmishes against the enemy in any mission. That will happen, but only if you are ill-prepared or the game forces you to go down that route. Otherwise, the firepower of your troops will always win out against the alien enemies, especially considering the caveat that they have limited numbers while the humans, who are only limited by supply points that get replenished when any unit perishes, can always come back for seconds. 

Starship Troopers Terran Command - Firing lines

Units can even gain more prowess with more kills, becoming combat veterans that can utilise powers that tip the scales even further. When you are constantly sending in troops to weaken the enemy and eventually wear them out, it hardly feels like a strategic affair.

Perhaps the most thinking players will have to do are in the rare situations where you cannot count on unlimited numbers, and have to be content with what you already have. Defensive battles can be exciting, testing your mastery of different abilities and the limits of micromanagement, but it hardly happens enough to turn this battle around.

Pathfinding is a big challenge in Starship Troopers: Terran Command, with troops usually lacking the sense to navigate across simple obstacles, getting stuck and becoming useless. The game also features a frustrating design choice in unit positioning, requiring that firing lines are unobstructed in order for them to rain death upon the enemy. Unless a player particularly enjoys granular positioning in the heat of battle, such adherence to realism will not be for everyone.

This might also be the reason why the developers decided that the scary, aggressive bugs that are such a threat in the films, should get nerfed. Instead of rushing the humans like they should, tearing poor Terran soldiers apart, the enemy is often too slow in movement to constitute a threat. For any well-prepared army, it becomes a shooting gallery that is simply not fun. 

Starship Troopers Terran Command - Bugs

At least the enemy variety is there, with all manners of bugs for the humans to contend with. The Warrior bugs are a common sight, and seeing the Plasma bug in action is always fun, and later configurations do demand a more specialised army to overcome them. As long as you can keep the bugs or the occasional human enemies at range, you will have a fighting chance. 

It is fair to say that the game is not going to set your pulses racing, at least for the first half of the 19-mission-long campaign. Find the enemy, send in the troops, replace the troops, and celebrate the victory, this will likely be the process for too many of the missions. Things do get more hectic in the second half, and the steep learning curve will likely catch players off guard, another balancing act that Starship Troopers: Terran Command seems to have not gotten right.

Surprisingly, Starship Troopers: Terran Command does not feature any multiplayer modes either. With no way for players to go head to head against each other, there is no need for a scenario editor of sorts either, which doubles the disappointment. A bug-focused campaign would have been nice as well, such is the expected norm for the genre.

Starship Troopers Terran Command - Battle

Between the obvious love for the franchise and the commitment to bringing every bit of that to life through the visuals, the colours used, to everything hammy that is prime Starship Troopers, the game does seem like a miss for a real-time strategy title. It has a good foundation to build on, but the various design choices leave us scratching our heads. Starship Troopers: Terran Command may well be made for the diehard fan, but even so, it might just be a bridge too far to recommend.

Starship Troopers: Terran Command is available on Steam for $26.00.

GEEK REVIEW SCORE

Summary

With just a single-player campaign that goes on for far too long and is not exactly exciting, going retro in Starship Troopers: Terran Command sees authentic visuals matched with an antiquated experience that makes this war more of a lost cause.

Overall
5.9/10
5.9/10
  • Gameplay - 6/10
    6/10
  • Story - 5/10
    5/10
  • Presentation - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Value - 5/10
    5/10


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