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Starship Troopers: Terran Command Review

by Gaming Adicts

Terran Command is a real-time strategy game where you control the mobile infantry from the 1997 movie Starship Troopers as they try to push back the bugs in a number of different missions. It has some interesting ideas, and it even uses the tropes from the movie Starship Troopers in a satisfying way. However, the whole experience is ruined by the fact that when you play it, you get the same boring chokepoint-based combat that was popular in real-time strategy games in the early 2000s but has since fallen out of favor.

Terran Command starts with a tutorial mission based on the famous Battle of Kwalasha. The whole game feels like Starship Troopers, even though you do your part from the command deck. In the typical RTS style, winning battles depends on your ability to micromanage your soldiers across the battlefield, sending your armies into battle against endless waves of bugs. The campaign doesn’t have much of an overall plot, but there’s enough variety and Starship Trooper references to keep it interesting until the end. Honestly, it’s a lot of fun to listen to your commander’s lack of morals when it comes to their soldiers’ welfare as you send waves of infantry to their inevitable deaths in true Starship Troopers style.

Your soldiers aren’t completely helpless, though. There are a lot of different squad types, each with its own weapons and special abilities, that can help fight off the swarms of bugs that are always on the screen. There will need to be a lot of rifle-wielding infantry as the backbone of your army, but Snipers and Combat Engineers with flamethrowers are also needed to really hurt the Arachnids. There are also non-combat troop types that are just as important, like Radio Operators who can make temporary drop zones and Tactical Officers who can boost the abilities of friendly troops. 

Each unit can also be made better, which adds to the variety of troops. Once a squad has killed enough enemies, they can get extra skills like grenades and strong air support that can help change the course of the war. Even though these skills aren’t always the easiest to use—grenades, in particular, can be a bit cumbersome—they quickly become important tools for your army.

 But even the most powerful weapons are useless without good planning and leadership, which is where Terran Command really shines. Even though building bases and managing resources aren’t as important as they are in similar RTS games, troop management and positioning are. I had a lot of fun moving my squads to choke points and holding them back, and I really felt like using high ground to my advantage made a difference. It was a lot of fun to put a squad of rocket troops above a bug-filled mine and watch the spiders run right into my carefully set trap when the fireworks started.

The bugs, on the other hand, are not without tricks, even if it takes them a while to show their hand. Even though there are a lot of different enemies, some from Starship Trooper and some made just for Terran Command, the first part of the game makes it feel like the enemies are too easy to kill. Most of the time, the screen is full of bugs that are quickly wiped out by a few infantry troops.

 It’s not always the fault of the bugs, though, because the game’s simplicity is mostly due to the way the levels are set up to favor Terran Command and a couple of system quirks. Resource management can be confusing, and it tends to focus on fixing units instead of making new ones. However, injured troops can be fixed almost instantly from a friendly base, so there is never a shortage of troops. It makes many fights feel risk-free because as soon as your units start to feel the heat of the battle, you can pull them out, fix them up, and put them right back on the front line. But the second half of the campaign does start to change things up, and as soon as levels have more interesting and varied tasks, the difficulty goes up an exciting notch.

The Biggest Flaw

Still, it’s fun to fight endless arachnids, but Terran Command’s biggest problem is that it doesn’t have enough to do. There is only the single-player campaign here, and even though it lasts about ten hours, it feels like there are a lot of missed opportunities that could have made this the best Starship Troopers game ever. For starters, there’s no multiplayer, which is probably the strangest thing that’s missing. It’s probably because the most obvious way to add multiplayer would be to add playable arachnids, which is another thing that’s missing from the game. However, I would have preferred an online Terran vs. Terran mode to no multiplayer at all. Speaking of arachnids, the campaign for our bug overlords features a huge variety of scary creatures, so the fact that you can’t play as one of them seems like a huge missed chance. Even a few scripted missions where you can lead swarms of bugs against hopeless armies of space marines would have been a tasty treat. It is, however, a real treat of a campaign, and even though I finished it in a weekend, I kept going back to finish some of the tricky side quests I didn’t finish the first time.

The Conclusion

Terran Command is a remarkably authentic adaptation of the classic science fiction source material from the 1990s, yet it also stands on its own as a strong space adventure. It is one of the best real-time strategy (RTS) experiences in recent memory; yet, it is a shame that there isn’t much to it because the foundations are very strong and there are very few mistakes.

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