PC REVIEW: STARSHIP TROOPERS

The movie cult classic finally comes to the gaming arena but is it too little too late? by Mike Chasselwaite

January 23, 2006 - Starship Troopers is a mindless shooter that vaguely reminds us of the movie. If you didn't like the movie, you probably won't like this game. And if you loved the movie, you probably won't like this game either. The game lacks depth. It's like an arcade shooting gallery featuring an over-populated race of alien insects to fire at. There are millions of them. And somebody has to kill them all. That would be you. Get busy.

Having to kill all these insects is like being handed a broom at your new job and told to sweep the warehouse. Shooting these bugs becomes a job, and not a likeable job. Okay, it's a better job than cleaning up a sweatshop but only barely. After a full day of bug shooting you'll be glad when your shift is over and you can do something more intellectual - like watch TV.

Planet Hesperus is overrun with viscous alien insects of the large and fast variety. The planet, which is close to Earth, was colonized by man and was considered a virtual Garden of Eden. But when the bugs invaded, the place went to hell. It's your job as a space marine to take control of the planet, protect the human population and kill those bugs dead.

To aid you in your task you will have a carbine and a shotgun, both with secondary features such as a grenade launcher, scope and rocket launcher. The carbine comes with unlimited ammo, and you're going to need it. The shotgun propels multiple shell blasts that can cut down entire rows of these bugs. The grenade is also a great weapon. It can take out a large chunk of enemies but you have to stop firing the gun to use one.

The enemy is relentless. They literally swarm you. At times you will be able to make out where they are coming from by pinpointing the strange sounds they make. Oddly you can't do this all the time. Although you will be able to hear them you can't tell where they are coming from all the time and this can be serious if they get the jump on you and surround you out in the open. You might face as many as 50 of these creatures at one time and if you don't cut them all down you lose. It's not an easy game by any stretch but the challenge doesn't vary despite different missions.

You are outfitted with a super suit and a shield that will regenerate. Abilities include running, jumping and crawling. Unfortunately the other marines in your squad aren't fortunate enough to have developed these skills. When under attack by such huge swarms of bugs it's nice to have some backup. On occasion you will have a squad attempt to take some of the load off of you but these guys seem more intent on offering themselves as a sacrifice to the enemy. They will shoot but they aren't great shots. They don't run, they don't crawl and they don't take cover. They just stand around until they get mowed down. You can't issue them any orders so you don't feel responsible for their imminent deaths. They all look the same and they repeat some of the same lines way too many times. Since they all look and act like clones you don't feel any attachment to them when they die.

Hesperus is a huge planet with varying terrain. It's not static. Objects in the environments are interactive which makes the planet a believable platform from which to conduct your business. Troops are engaged in various background animations and radio chatter fills the air. The voiceovers are every bit as good as the movie - if you like cliches. Much of the dialog is tongue-in-cheek with healthy doses of humor though some of the lines do get repetitive.

Things can be difficult to see at night as the lighting either washes things out or doesn't provide enough illumination. There isn't much in the way of slowdown but the animation of the bugs is stiff and jerky. They emit an unsettling squeal that sounds like a pig caught in an auger. The explosions and other weapon sounds are very powerful and satisfying. They display realistic girth and create some nice bass rumblings. The music keeps the tension in high gear but it too starts to repeat.

Starship Troopers would make an excellent arcade game. It's got lots of enemies, plenty of firepower, tons of action and a very good chance of your character getting killed which would force gamers to toss in more quarters. Unfortunately the game loses its appeal as a home game. It's like inviting the funny drunk you met in the bar last night to your party only to find out that after an hour he repeats the same stories over and over. In this way Starship Troopers is fun for a while but only as long as the definition of "a while" does not exceed one hour.

Starship Troopers is a game that underscores the principal of diminishing returns which means the more you play it, the less you'll like it. If you must, enjoy it in small doses.

Features

  • Epic battles featuring 300+ bugs with individual AI on screen at once, 20 times more action than gamers have ever seen before.
  • 19 different types of non-humanoid enemy bugs to encounter.
  • License that covers the whole Starship Troopers universe. The books, films and TV series are just the beginning.
  • Voice-over commentary by Casper van Dien, aka Johnny Rico, now the general who introduces each mission.
  • Nine weapons, each with dual function attacks.
  • Weapons include the standard Morita rifle (seen in the film) as well as the plasma rifle, shotgun and rocket launcher, plus a variety of new and exciting items such as intelligent grenades and the infamous nuke launcher.
  • 12 single player levels including a mix of huge real-time battles on an epic scale and solo 'infiltration' missions.
  • Varied Combat Environments - indoor and outdoor levels, including the wide-open battlefields, a secret laboratory, claustrophobic bug nests, abandoned mines and lonely outposts. Plus LAN and online modes including death match and co-op mode.

By Mike Chasselwaite
CCC Freelance Writer

Rating out of 5
Starship Troopers (PC)
3.4
Graphics
The planet looks lived on. It's huge and well detailed, the character models look like clones and move like robots.
4.2
Control
Nice weapons. They are very effective but there isn't much variety.
4.0
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Good sound effects and voiceovers but like everything else in this game it becomes repetitious.
2.3
Play Value
The multi-player mode might give you some reason to take up arms again.
3.5
Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: PC
Dev: Empire Int/Destineer
Pub: Strangelite
Release: Dec 2005
Players: 1 - multi
Review by Mike

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best