Starship Troopers – Terran Command is a welcome return to two things we enjoyed in the past: single player real time strategy campaigns and a campy sci-fi classic from Paul Verhoeven. Does it manage to thrill and entertain in 2022? We played this PC exclusive to find out.
Publishing Starship Troopers – Terran Command is Slitherine, whom we mostly know for their turn-based wargames, but in recent years they’ve also branched out to the Warhammer universe and sci-fi, so we were looking forward to this one. After all, the PC game based on Starship Troopers that came out back in 2005 wasn’t exactly great, so we were due a decent adaptation of the franchise.
While not a direct adaptation of the (first) film, its influence can be seen and felt in the story premise of Terran Command. The game takes place on an inhospitable desert planet when mankind has set up mining operations, only to be faced with the alien threat known as the Archnids. Taking control of the Mobile Infantry division, it’s your job to drive them back and secure human interests on the planet.
As in the film and its sequels, the aliens rely on strength in numbers and try to swarm the human forces by attacking en masse. While such a seemingly mindless enemy could open the door to repetitive gameplay, Starship Troopers – Terran Command keeps things interesting by gradually making new units and abilities available – all of which have an impact on the strategies you can devise and experiment with. When an opponent seems to constantly rush you, it’s nice to feel like you have options.
Learning about and using each unit’s strengths and weaknesses versus specific enemies is key, and you can also try to effectively use a map’s terrain to keep units safer or create chokepoints. Elevation matters as well, especially because it impacts how well you can see the enemy coming – get caught by surprise, and those overwhelming numbers won’t do you any favors.
While unit and creature designs evoke a distinct Starship Troopers vibe, Terran Command certainly isn’t a visually impressive real time strategy game. Dawn of War III is five years old at this point, but from the amount of on-screen detail to the quality of the animations, it’s a far more polished game to look at. Terran Command doesn’t look bad, but it does remind you why this isn’t a full priced release at launch.
You could say the same thing about the gameplay by stating that the game doesn’t innovate much and goes with familiar gameplay mechanics, but longtime fans of classic RTS games (like us) won’t mind at all. Developer The Artistocrats has taken a format that works, and has applied it to the Starship Troopers IP successfully. At its price point, this is a steal for those who like classic RTS gameplay and want to finally play a proper Starship Troopers strategy game.