I’ve been mad about Starship Troopers for quite some time – the movie adaptation felt like such a departure from the book. But then I learned to appreciate poking fun at the dumb fascist propaganda of “service guarantees citizenship.” Yet even then, I never understood the appeal of playing a Mobile Infantryman in the setting. So the
Starship Troopers – Terran Command demo is a strange game to play, but it turns out that it is a good day to die!
Starship Troopers the book was all about hardass power-armored droptroops fighting Communist Chinese Space Bugs. Starship Troopers – Terran Command demo is set in the movie universe where mobile infantry bring Franco-Prussian War tactics (and eyewatering casualty rates) to space by giving infantrymen automatic rifles and not much else. Now go kill some giant bugs.
One of the weirder bits of the demo is that your troopers cannot shoot through their own units, devastating the monocle supplies of many an RTS gamer. However, this makes perfect sense: it would be way too easy to get the bugs in a chokepoint if you could stack five squads into a ravine, all shooting through their friends. Now, you have to think about positioning even in a game where cover doesn’t exist.
Of course, you can’t really make a strategy game about nothing but blobs of identically-armed infantrymen, so your troopers get help in the form of flamethrower teams, engineers, and so on. As we all know, the flamethrower is the one natural predator a giant bug has, so you’ll need to work hard to deploy them to best effect.
Granted, Starship Troopers – Terran Command demo doesn’t give your dudes any more stabproof armor than the movie did, so you will take casualties. They can be replenished at key map points, though it’s a bit of a bother to call in a drop ship for every individual unit. On the other hand, units gain experience and eventually a specialization, so you’ll have some incentive to prevent a repeat of Klendathu drop.
There was a variety of missions in the demo, though one objective was continuously present: closing bug caves. To do that, you need to slaughter the waves of bugs they spawn until the cave is exhausted, then send a unit inside to close it. The unit may take some casualties (mine didn’t), but the hole will be plugged. Of course, if you tarry on the whole closing thing, the cave might start spawning again.
And the game looks fairly well, especially considering its compatriots in the publisher’s roster, with both environments beingly well-detailed, and bug movement animations looking really evocative. In fact, the game seems well done from the technical side in general.
All in all, as long as you don’t think too much about the silliness of the premise – fighting aliens on distant world by utilizing the combined arms tactics of the American Civil War – Starship Troopers – Terran Command demo is actually a solid game that remembers the important thing: the Federation is the bad guy.