Game Over Online ~ Starship Troopers (RTS)

GameOver Game Reviews - Starship Troopers (RTS) (c) Hasbro Interactive, Reviewed by - Jimmy Clydesdale

Game & Publisher Starship Troopers (RTS) (c) Hasbro Interactive
System Requirements Windows 9x, Pentium II-233, 64MB Ram, 300MB HDD, 3D Accelerator
Overall Rating 58%
Date Published Friday, November 10th, 2000 at 07:58 PM


Divider Left By: Jimmy Clydesdale Divider Right

Drawing its content and inspiration from the 1959 Robert Heinlein novel and the 1997 Paul Verhoeven movie of the same name, Starship Troopers is described by Microprose as a hybrid of role-playing and strategy, a squad based 3D role-playing strategy game. Starship Troopers has often been mentioned in the same breath as X-Com, offering such similar features as the ability to customize your assigned squad. However, for every unique aspect and visually stunning weapon effect, Starship Troopers displays a plethora of unforgivable flaws and omissions that distances it further from X-Com and Ground Control, and closer and closer to the likes of such poor 3D real-time strategy titles as Star Wars: Force Commander.

Like the novel and the movie, Starship Troopers is set in the 23rd century as an epic interplanetary war rages between humans and intergalactic insects termed Arachnids. In the game, you assume the role of a Lieutenant, given charge of a platoon of mobile infantry as you descend to the planet of Klendathu at the commencement of the 3rd Terran Space War.

Starship Troopers opens with a series of training missions designed to teach prospective Lietenants the controls, formations, and tactics of battle. Once you've been through the ropes, you'll begin a multi-mission campaign as you command a platoon of 21 troopers against the Arachnid threat. Mission objectives are varied and include destroying Arachnid holes as well as locating and rescuing other military and non-military personnel. Before you begin each mission, you'll have to select 12 troopers, divide them into squads, and equip them with armor and weaponry. The choice of weapons is formidable and includes assault rifles, flamethrowers, grenade launchers and nerve gas. Some of the armor and accessories available include multi-levelled suits of armor, health packs and binoculars. The ability to personalize your troopers reminded me a lot of another Microprose title, X-Com, but without as profound an effect. What I mean by that is X-Com had the knack to make you care about the people heading out to combat the aliens. Starship Troopers doesn't quite capture that same emotion.

Once you actually enter the battlefield, the scars of war begin to show on Starship Troopers. So what's the problem you ask? There's just not an awful lot of strategy involved, particular for a well, strategy game. Oh sure, there are troop modes to assign and formations to employ, but the only strategy I found within the game was to keep as far away from a bug hole as possible. Whether the mission calls for a rescue operation or a bug hunt, the end result is often one involving the destruction of every bug in sight, with the mission objective coming a distant second in terms of importance. The earlier missions are generally short and unique, but as you progress to the later missions, they become rather lengthy and repetitive in design. The lack of a proper save game feature in the midst of a mission also hinders greatly on the game, particularly in recognition of some of the tougher scenarios. If you lose your Lieutenant in combat, the mission is a failure no matter how many troopers are still alive.

When you complete a scenario, your troopers earn experience points that go towards improving their grade or rank. There are seven ranks available and upon completing a mission, your troopers will get promoted in accordance to their experience points. However, if there are too many troopers of a certain rank, the trooper will not be promoted. Increasing a troopers rank affects their ability to carry better ranged weapons and armor, not to mention improving their all round performance. After you've completed a few missions, members of your platoon will gain specialized assignments such as a Medic, Combat Engineer or MIST, allowing them to perform various tasks while in combat such as cloaking and mind control. All of these little tidbits add up to an excellent role-playing element, but most of it is wasted on the battlefield when strategy and tactics means so little.

The graphics in Starship Troopers are actually quite solid. Klendathu's environments leave little to be desired, but it is a bug planet after all, not to mention one inhabited by insects with an anthill mentality, so it shouldn't be unexpected to see bland horizons. The troopers and the Arachnids, on the other hand, look tremendous. The firefights are not only exciting to participate in, but are visually stunning, particularly the weapon effects at night. Unfortunately, the audio elements aren't quite as effective as the visuals. The sound effects seem rather generic and the never-ending footsteps of your troopers, as they traverse the planet, can get annoying to say the least. The speech effects are limited and the musical score should do more to get your blood pumping.

One of the main issues with most 3D real-time strategy titles is the view provided by the camera. While you can rotate and manoeuvre the camera as desired, it's often difficult to find an angle that provides a solid view of the action. You'll find yourself constantly rotating to make sure no Arachnids are sneaking up behind your platoon and just when you think the camera angle is perfect, a hill will frequently block your view of the action. It's also difficult to get a bead on the flying insects, as looking above is a task in itself.

Unquestionably the biggest downfall of Starship Troopers is the lack of multiplayer. A real-time strategy game without multiplayer? That's correct. The possibilities are endless, including the ability to play as the Arachnids and take on your buddies' platoon of Starship Troopers, but all for not. Starship Troopers doesn't offer the opportunity and it loses big points for this omission.

Starship Troopers is one of those games that is just oozing with potential but comes up short in terms of production. The addition of X-Com like role-playing elements was exciting at first, but the detailed features are lost in a battlefield that focuses too much on action and not enough on tactics and strategy. The missions become far too repetitive and the lack of multiplayer is killer. With games like Ground Control out there, it's hard to recommend Starship Troopers to anybody other than diehard fans of the novel or the movie.

[ 32/50 ] Gameplay
[ 07/10 ] Graphics
[ 05/10 ] Sound
[ 07/10 ] Controls
[ 00/10 ] Multiplayer
[ 07/10 ] Storyline

 

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