Reviews - Updated on June 17, 2022

Today Today 4 1518 1 Share

satirical strategy

Interest in Starship Troopers – Terran Command for me (and, perhaps, for the rest) is clearly not connected with the name of the authors of this strategy – if the Slitherine publishing house is still known to the general public, then the direct developers from The Artistocrats studio were noted only for a good turn-based wargame Order of Battle : World War II and a pack of DLC for it. But the original source, be it a book by Robert Heinlein or a film by Paul Verhoeven, is a completely different matter: just a recognizable image of a mobile infantry soldier from a movie is enough to draw attention to the project.

I admit, despite my indifferent attitude to both the novel and the film, I did not expect revelations. A couple of months ago I tried the demo, was not impressed (it lasted me less than an hour), decided not to spoil the impression completely and postponed a full acquaintance with the game for later: you never know, what if the release will feel more positive?

A good arachnid is a dead arachnid!

For inexperienced readers, it’s worth immediately making an explanation: Heinlein’s novel and Verhoeven’s action movie are, as they say, two big differences. Written by a retired officer (the future science fiction classic graduated from the US Naval Academy and served in the Navy for five years before being discharged for health reasons), the book is a true ode to the army and the military lifestyle. An original look at the socio-political structure of a utopian state did not go unnoticed: for this novel, the author was awarded the prestigious Hugo Award and, at the same time, accusations of militarism and even fascism. At the same time, the book became one of the iconic works of science fiction literature, enriching the genre with now-familiar ideas like power armor.

The film, made nearly half a century after the book’s release, is a satire of Heinlein’s utopian society. The director enters into a correspondence debate with the author of the original source, and he does it so subtly that viewers unfamiliar with the book took the Hollywood Starship Troopers for a cool science fiction action movie, not noticing the ridicule of a society in which the army is at the forefront.

There are base defense missions in the game, but there are not many of them. This is a strategy, not tower defense, as many thought.

In terms of plot and entourage, Starship Troopers – Terran Command is entirely made according to the patterns of the film. And the point is not only in the recognizable appearances of arachnids or fighters in light armor (it does not look at all like the huge exoskeletons from the book), but also in the very satire: jokes in the direction of Heinlein’s creations continue, albeit not served as skillfully as Verhoeven’s.

Between missions, we are shown short videos of the federal news agency FED NET (there were similar ones in the film): the bravura speeches of the announcer with a well-trained voice tell about the difficult fate of the inhabitants of the planet Kvalasha, for which the battle unfolded. For people, this is a source of valuable resources that the army needs, and arachnids, as befits evil bugs, simply kill everyone in a row. However, for some reason, it is the constant insects that turn out to be more cunning and inflict defeat after defeat on the army. But the announcer on the news is not discouraged: “Despite the huge losses, the mobile infantry will still win!” Watching such tricks is funny – it’s even a pity that the videos are so short.

Video inserts between missions are just a set of pictures.  Nevertheless, they are tastefully drawn, and the voice-over voice of the announcer deserves special praise.

Video inserts between missions are just a set of pictures. Nevertheless, they are tastefully drawn, and the voice-over voice of the announcer deserves special praise.

It comes to the point of absurdity – in one of the missions we need to find an escaped criminal and save him from arachnids. For what? To deliver him to the place of execution, otherwise the live broadcast of the execution (apparently, this is a common thing for local television) will be in jeopardy, and this cannot be allowed! While the criminal is chained to the electric chair under the cameras, the brave paratroopers staunchly defend the prison from arachnids – it was not for nothing that they pulled the fugitive out of the desert full of beetles.

The enemy will not press the button if you take away his hand

Satire is, of course, great, but following the canons of the book, and not the film, in my opinion, would be much better suited to a game in the strategy genre. Drops from orbit in power armor, customization of exoskeletons, not only arachnids as opponents – I like this potential set of features much more than what we see in Terran Command. Here, with original ideas, it’s completely sad – the only good thing is that the developers were able to squeeze the maximum out of the existing ones for the gameplay.

To begin with, only single player is available, and without a scenario editor or random battles, only a campaign consisting of a linear chain of missions. But these missions are distinguished by a variety of tasks: you either need to defend the base from the constant raids of arachnids, or, on the contrary, clear the area yourself from the hives, in which new beetles constantly breed, and sometimes you have to act in a small detachment without hope for reinforcements.

The quality of the graphics is not impressive: the effects look cheap, and the killed arachnids instantly evaporate, unlike the movie, where the bugs filled up the defense with corpses.

The quality of the graphics is not impressive: the effects look cheap, and the killed arachnids instantly evaporate, unlike the movie, where the bugs filled up the defense with corpses.

About reinforcements it is worth mentioning separately: we are not facing a standard RTS with the construction of barracks, in which you can order new fighters for the resources obtained by “peasants” or “harvesters”. The main tactical unit in Terran Command is a platoon, consisting of several fighters. Each such platoon has its own specialization and special skills that can be unlocked as you gain experience for killing enemies. For example, regular infantrymen throw grenades and clear hives, snipers highlight targets in the fog of war, and officers can increase the damage of allies in a specific area of ​​the map. Arachnids also have specializations – for example, ordinary warrior beetles climb walls, and huge tankers hit squares and are almost immune to fire from small arms.

New detachments of mobile infantry arrive straight from orbit, on landing craft. Supplies are needed to summon them. A small number of them are given to us immediately at the start of the mission, and additional ones have to be obtained on our own, capturing boxes scattered around the map or completing tasks. The second type of resource is military support points: they are needed to create turrets and build buildings that give access to new types of fighters.

We have to fight against people.  However, what's the difference - an order is an order.

We have to fight against people. However, what’s the difference – an order is an order.

Go monkeys! Are you going to live forever?

The general feeling is that we have a wargame rather than a strategy. The loss of a squad leads to the fact that supplies are returned to the general pool, so that reinforcements can always be called from orbit (although these will be green recruits without pumped abilities). However, the time spent on replenishing losses can be fatal, so bombarding the enemy with cannon fodder is not an option. After all, who are the stupid insects here?

It will not work to take by numbers, and not by skill, and for another reason, which is the only distinguishing feature of the game: during the battle, you must take into account the formation of units and use the landscape features for the best effectiveness of the weapons of your fighters. Just gather everyone together and crush the arachnids with a hail of bullets and grenades will not work: if an ally is in the line of fire, then the squad will not shoot so as not to hurt their own. Therefore, you have to be sophisticated, occupying heights, using special abilities and bypassing the enemy from the flanks.

The red icon above the squad indicates that the fighters see the enemy, but cannot shoot at him – the allied platoon interferes.

Oddly enough, even such a meager set of features allows the game to be interesting precisely as a tactic. Here you really have to puzzle over how to defeat the enemy in each battle, and the campaign, despite the linear structure, constantly throws up new tactical tasks, the solution of which sometimes turns out to be non-trivial, especially if you tweak the difficulty settings in favor of arachnids.

An example of a well-chosen position: engineers with the help of flamethrowers can stop arachnids from two directions at once, and ordinary infantry will cover them from the flanks.

An example of a well-chosen position: engineers with the help of flamethrowers can stop arachnids from two directions at once, and ordinary infantry will cover them from the flanks.

Unfortunately, Terran Command is unlikely to escape oblivion. We literally have a one-play game in front of us: after the end of the campaign there is nothing to do here – there is no multiplayer, and the lack of even minimal customization and variability (some missions of the campaign are designed in such a way that they can be completed in only one way) puts an end to the desire to return to Kvalash and once again clean it from arachnids. I’m not even talking about outdated technical performance – everything is perfectly visible on the screenshots.

However, if you love real-time strategy and don’t mind once again recalling the caricature images of the ideal soldier and citizen from the movie Verhoeven, Terran Command deserves your attention.

Pros: the influence of the landscape and the formation of units on the battles; various missions; satirical entourage to match the film by Paul Verhoeven.

Cons: outdated graphics and generally poor technical condition of the game; too primitive gameplay; lack of modern features like pumping units between missions or a global map.

Screenshots of the game

Similar content:

The Riftbreaker Review & Guide

Reviews • 29/03/2022

The tower defense genre, extremely popular on mobile devices, is nowhere near as noticeable on PC and consoles. Of course, there are similar projects ...

Shadow of the Tomb Raider: Press Release Review

Reviews • 11/04/2022

When I proudly declare that “I don’t play games,” people rightly ask: “How can you, you bastard, talk about them then? Where is the ...

Anthem: Demo Review

Reviews • 10/04/2022

Still, it’s good that large multiplayer projects can not do without preliminary tests. If Anthem came out on February 22 in the form in ...

Pit People: Review

Reviews • 12/04/2022

The indie gaming scene has its established influencers and celebrities. The Behemoth Studio is one of them. All her games are not only insanely ...