Starship Troopers: Terran Command Review – A bare-bones RTS

Starship Troopers: Terran Command is the foundation of a great RTS game that should offer much more than it does.
Starship Troopers Terran Command Image
Image: The Artistocrats

The 1997 Starship Troopers movie was a parody of military fetishism. It told the story of how an entire society designed towards pushing young men and women towards armed service and glorifying invasion as a civic duty was a bad thing, and did its best to paint this picture through satire and violence within an unforgiving space military. What I and a lot of other fans of Starship Troopers really latched onto, however, was the imagery of little spacemen fighting against hordes and hordes of giant bugs.

This is the fantasy that facilitated the creation of the game Starship Troopers: Terran Command. This brand new RTS puts players in control of the Mobile Infantry, fighting on the ground to defend colonies against terrifying bugs and experiencing the fantasy Starship Troopers promised from a birds-eye view. Through Starship Troopers has been out of the public conscious for quite some time, it clearly maintains a dedicated fanbase, as Terran Command is one of the highest played games on steam on its second day of release.

Starshiptroopers Enlistnow Image
Image: The Artistocrats / Try Hard Guides

Graphically, the game is absolutely gorgeous. The lightning, use of colors, and environment are all creative and visually appealing, which is hard to pull off when your game is set in a desert. The difference between night and day is visually distinct and makes the maps feel alive as well as different with just a change in the lightning.

The models are also gorgeous, with stunningly accurate recreations of the soldiers and bugs from the movie as well as some new units. The heavily armored troopers are an especially welcome design, taking something that existed only in the Heinlein book and bringing it to life in the cinematic universe.

That’s right, some ideas from the books make their way into the game too, creating a fantastic crossover between the two forms of media that Starship Troopers fans have been divided over loving for years. Because of this, Terran Command bridges a gap and makes a game that die-hard fans of the book can enjoy just as much as the movie’s cult audience.

Startshiptroopers Deadbugs Image
Image: The Artistocrats / Try Hard Guides

For a good part of the game, pretty graphics are all this has to offer. The first half the campaign is frustratingly simple — You will mow down hordes and hordes of bugs without losing a single body, and its enough to make you reconsider your purchase. Stick with it, though, as the second half really picks up in difficulty and will push you right when you want it to.

That’s kind of a problem, though. This game only has the campaign and two challenge missions to play — Once you’ve played them all, that’s it. With roughly half the game serving as a glorified tutorial, you’re left with even less content that you can truly call gameplay, making it hard to justify this game’s $30 price tag.

When this game is boring, it’s really boring. An RTS game should reward vigilance and punish you when you lose focus. Often times in the early game I found myself zoning out or looking away, leading my troopers directly into the maw of the enemy. Surprisingly, the gigantic bugs, unlike in the movies, did very little damage to my soldiers, who were able to walk away with only one or two casualties under covering fire. This is not the experience I expect or want in my Starship Troopers game. Encountering a bug should be a nightmarish experience that ends horribly for the slow and unprepared, from the start of the game to the finish.

Something this game also lacks is multiplayer. Considering the setting, it’s understandable that multiplayer may not be the easiest thing to pull off. The game would almost certainly feature one player as the Mobile Infantry and another as the bugs, playing against each other in the game’s purposefully asymmetrical combat. My question is: So what?

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Image: The Artistocrats / Try Hard Guides

The nature of multiplayer Terran Command would be a lot like Starcraft, which featured a very similar sort of matchup in it’s multiplayer lobbies. The idea of an RTS without a multiplayer element is a little ridiculous, Even co-op would have been a fantastic addition to the game, and I can’t think of a single reason why the developers would choose to restrict the potential of their game by opting out of multiplayer.

The flaws seem to outweigh the pros of Terran Command, at least for me. Where the game shines is in it’s unique line of fire mechanic, where soldiers cannot fire over the heads of their allies. While it sounds simple, it creates some interesting and unexpected challenges when you end up facing hordes of faster-moving, harder-hitting bugs rushing right at you. In that sense, the game has a lot more below the surface, so judging it based off the first few levels simply isn’t fair.

That being said, a game with as little content to offer as Terran Command shouldn’t spend half the game teacheing you how to play. Skipping out on multiplayer was a major mistake for the team, and one I hope they plan to fix for the sake of the game’s health.

The Final Word

Starship Troopers: Terran Command is a game with great bones. The foundation of this game was built well, lacking any major bugs and ready for some really great meat to be added. Unfortunately, it feels like the game was released before that step. We can only hope some much needed content will be added with future free updates. Until then, maybe pass on Terran Command unless you’re a major Starship Troopers fan.

5

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