Starship Troopers is a really interesting IP. The original novel from the 50s was a classic, but it was also a bit heavy-handed when it came to the glorification of the military. In the 90s movie version of the story, the entire thing is given an air of parody that really makes it an entertaining film to watch, no matter which side of the political spectrum you stand upon. Starship Troopers: Terran Command is an RTS title that takes the style and tongue-in-cheek attitude of the movie and translates it into a slice of strategy gaming fun that almost anyone can enjoy.
Starship Troopers: Terran Command – A Storied History
If you’re a fan of strategy titles, then you’ll probably be familiar with the people behind this game: Slitherine. The team behind this game has been crafting and publishing strategy titles across a wide variety of different themes. From the grimdark future of Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector to the historical facts found in Fields of Glory 2: Medieval, there’s almost nothing that these guys haven’t touched. Now, we’ve got a slightly more brightly colored, if no-less-grim, sci-fi strategy title with its tongue so firmly in its cheek about things that it’s a wonder it hasn’t bitten the tip off.
In fact, the style used in the game is so well done that they almost seem like they could have been made for the movie rather than the game. The storyline somewhat follows on from the movie, taking place after the disastrous invasion of the arachnid homeworld that saw many of the cast killed off or injured. Now, with humanity itself on the line, you take control of the Terran forces who are trying to destroy the bug menace once and for all. How does it tie into the canon game plots and straight-to-DVD features? Not a clue, but it would probably take someone with a Ph.D. to suss that mess out.
Would You Like to Know More?
Everything in Starship Troopers: Terran Command is presented in the style of the FedNet video sequences in the film, essentially just broad parodies of old army recruitment films that are all bluster about ‘doing your part’ or something similar. It’s a style that works shockingly well for tying the different mission scenarios together, as well as giving the game a sense of connection to the broader Starship Troopers series. It also feels like a nice nod to fans of the original movie, which is something else that the game is quite good at during gameplay as well.
This is a relatively standard RTS affair. You have a lot of ground troops and various objectives to complete and can create more buildings and troops as the situation demands. Of course, you also have a variety of different troop types as well, with each having its own strengths and weaknesses. Ground troops are great against rank and file enemies but struggle with flying or ranged ones. Engineers can build support structures and are great at chokepoints but die pretty easily if left out in the open. You need to use each unit effectively if you don’t want to be turned into a red smear on alien soil.
Starship Troopers: Terran Command – Focused on Delivering
A rather interesting aspect of Starship Troopers: Terran Command is the absolute focus that is given over to the single-player experience. In a time when most games wouldn’t be caught dead without a multiplayer mode, it’s refreshing to see a lot of love and attention poured into single-player content. There’s, of course, the main campaign which takes place over 21 separate missions, including the infamous invasion of Klendathu with the same predictable end. There are also a few extra challenges to take on if you feel like you didn’t get your money’s worth with the main game.
Praise for the single-player focus aside, it would have been nice if the game had a little more content. As it stands, the campaign is a pretty satisfying but relatively short play. The mission ramp up nicely in difficulty, and the game certainly feels good to control, but we’ve pretty much got RTS gameplay down to a science these days, so that’s not too much of a shock. There’s also a nice ramping of complexity too, with new missions introducing new unit types and challenges at a pretty steady pace. You definitely won’t be bored, but it will probably be over before you know it. Some sort of horde or skirmish mode wouldn’t have gone amiss.
Time to Talk Gameplay Some More
Aside from being easy to control, the simple UI of Starship Troopers: Terran Command makes it a joy to control most of the time. It’s a bit odd that you can only pan the camera with the arrow keys rather than also allowing for the use of WASD, but it’s not that big of a deal. What is slightly more of an annoyance are the bugs. There aren’t too many bugs found in the game, but the ones that are here have a bit of a habit of causing you to have to reload a save or checkpoint.
The most prevalent bug is related to the ‘Attack Move’ command. Normally, it’s a command you would give to your troops when they’re heading through a hostile area. The command forces your troops to stop and defend themselves whenever they encounter enemies, and if you don’t use it, they’ll just keep running and be murdered horribly by aliens. 9 times out of ten, this is the move you want to be doing, but occasionally it just decides not to work and gets entire elite squads of infantry taken down in seconds.
Starship Troopers: Terran Command – In Conclusion
Despite the lack of a skirmish or horde mode and the one bug that caused frustration, my time with Starship Troopers: Terran Command ended up being an incredibly satisfying experience. As a fan of the movies, the style, and tone of proceedings match up exactly with what you expect from a game based on the IP. The gameplay is well-designed, has great difficulty and complexity curves, and takes you through a story that feels like it fights right along with the 90s adaptation, even if it feels a million miles removed from the book it’s all based on. That all said, if you’re coming into this for a game that will last you hundreds of hours or that you can play with/against your friends, then you’ll probably need to look elsewhere.