November 30, 2022

First Impressions of Starship Troopers: Terran Command by Slitherine Games

Michael Eckenfels, 23 June 2022

The newest installment from Slitherine deals with the stellar subject of Starship Troopers. If you’re looking for a simulation of the 1959 novel by Robert A. Heinlein, you’ll be as disappointed as you were if that’s what you were hoping for, going into the 1997 film, too.

I was like that. I saw Starship Troopers on the big screen in ’97, and having seen the trailers, I knew what to expect, but I didn’t expect quite the departure that the filmmakers took. In all honesty, I despised it.

At the time.

It slowly grew on me, though; the sarcastic and parody-like fluency that flooded each and every pore of this film made it, unto itself, a good movie. That of course spawned countless derivatives despite the film itself flopping at the box office, so your mileage may of course completely vary from mine.

That’s all important to mention; I know you’re asking, “aren’t you supposed to be talking about a game?” Yes, I am. I say all this because this game from Slitherine is based on the 1997 film, and therefore, will either hit the mark for you, or will completely miss it with the whiffiest of whiff’d shots.

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click images to enlarge

Interestingly, the art and cadence of the game, including the cinematics and voice-overs, attempts to match that of the film. You’ll get the same “Would You Like To Know More” questions, which lead into the tutorial – which isn’t much of an actual tutorial. If you’re a complete newcomer to games such as this – point and click and fire – you’re probably going to struggle a lot. But if you’ve played once, you’ve played them all; click to select, click to move, click to fire, click-lasso + Ctrl + number to assign a group – it’s all here, and it’s all intuitive despite me not seeing much in the way of a tutorial. 

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The artwork is commendable, though not entirely stellar, so to speak. The bug art, like here in this, is pretty awesome, though.

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The human art is good, evoking the film entirely as the uniforms, equipment, and weaponry is all right on the mark. When you start a Campaign, you can even name your Division whatever you wish (the default here is “6th Infantry Division,” but I imagine you could name it “Banzai’s Cats” or whatever you want). And, you can select a difficulty level. I tried this middle-of-the-road setting of three out of five stars to begin with, and it wasn’t much of a challenge.

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The intros before missions are interesting, though the art harkens to some 80s G.I. Joe Saturday Morning kind of thing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that at all. If you don’t mind nostalgia tugging at the corners of your mind, you’ll enjoy these parts.

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The voiceover work, unfortunately, is somewhat lame, though it’s in the spirit of the film. It’s just not impactful and it sounds like the voice actors were phoning in their lines rather than really getting into the spirit of the parody that is the film – over the top, full of energy and aggression, and completely immersed in the role. Instead, you get voice actors that sound like they’re trying really, really hard, but aren’t quite hitting things.

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The cut scenes are quite interesting, though.

There’s even a ‘encyclopedia’ of sorts that you can use to read up on your units, and that of the enemy. 

It’s interesting, but the star rating doesn’t give a big initial impression as to how effective weapons are. This will come from play experience and seeing how these units fare in battle.

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Speaking of battle – as I said, the controls are completely intuitive, so it’s not difficult to get into; I’d say you’d only struggle if you’re a complete newbie at this sort of thing.

I do like how you immediately begin like the movie did, with the disastrous Terran invasion of Klendathu.

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This somewhat takes the place of a tutorial, but it doesn’t tell you WHAT to do. Here, above, it tells you to ‘move to the flag,’ but doesn’t tell you what to click to do it, ergo the source of possible confusion.

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Lots of ‘splosions, of course. The action is definitely there.

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As you play the Mobile Infantry (or ‘apes’ as they are lovingly known as by their NCOs), you’re put into the same situations you saw in the film, all loosely based on the Heinlein book. Even at mid-range difficulty, though, this was not difficult to play, though it IS the first mission and shouldn’t be overwhelming, anyway.

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It has an interesting way of ending the missions – completely in the theme and spirit of the movie.

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The maps, the objectives, movement, selection – everything is intuitive, which I really like about this game. 

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There’s lots of violence in it, of course. Have you seen the movie? You get it, then. From bugs getting shredded by Mobile Infantry rifles and rockets, to the aftermath of a civilian colony having been overrun by vengeful alien Bugs, you’ll see it in droves. Not quite over the top like in some scenes – at least, not that I’ve seen so far – but what you see in these screenshots is what you’re going to get.

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But, it’s satisfying to an extent, insofar as the action is concerned. Lots of firepower being thrown downrange; lots of Bugs getting stomped; some minor tension as the hordes get closer and closer to your lines.

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There’s some scenes that hark back to the film, but don’t copy them. This is a somewhat early mission here, where you’re called on to evacuate, but as you access the base you’re faced with swarms of Bugs. Though, not nearly as many as in the one scene from the film, with the landscape blanketed by a fierce avalanche of legs, jaws, and death, all flooding towards the base in the movie. I’d like to have seen more Bugs, here. But for what it does, it’s pretty entertaining.

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The missions aren’t too difficult, at least in these early stages. I imagine they’ll get more difficult as the game goes on, which I will play through in order to write a full review, later. Keep on the lookout if…you want to know more.

 


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