Starship Troopers (PC)

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Friday, January 20, 2006

Graphics: 4.00
Sound: 5.00
Gameplay: 4.75
Replays: 5.25

Starship Troopers is an odd title to be coming out in this day and age. After all, the original movie is over eight years old and a B-movie sequel came out in 2004 (which proved to be very unsuccessful). But nevertheless, Strangelite and Empire Interactive set out to make a FPS based on this science fiction universe. And while their ideas were certainly ambitious, the results aren’t as desirable.

One of the first areas that problems pop up in would have to be in the sound design. In all of the missions, General Rico (voiced by Casper van Dien or Johnny Rico from the movie) will provide objectives and other commentary through your intercom. However, at the same time there is often chatter from your teammates and other sounds going on around you. This intercom voice clashes with the other sounds, and they sometimes overpower one another. In addition, there were also occasional sound skips during intense firefights that became very noticeable. This is just the beginning of many bugs that show up throughout the course of the game, and it’s not a good thing.

Graphically the game is a mixed bag as well. Strangelite went with the more is better theory, and decided to put hundreds of bugs onscreen at a time to battle against. This just doesn’t work half of the time, as not only are just about all of the enemies you fight brain dead, but they are often lacking in animation. When up close and personal against one or two bugs, they have perfectly fine animation and resemble an enemy that you would see in a decent FPS. But get them in mass numbers and they lose about three quarters of their animation, resulting in some really choppy looking enemy movement. But this isn’t the end of the graphical issues. Strangelite decided not to include any kind of gamma or brightness correction setting in the video options, meaning that however the game looks on your monitor by default is what you’re stuck with. Outdoor levels are sometimes too dark (especially on LCD monitors), and some of the other areas looked washed out because of this. Everything about the graphics, from the in-game models (there’s only about three or four real character models used in the game, they’re just constantly repeated), to the grainy cutscenes that are taken right out of the two films. Everything about the look and feel just screams average, and that’s exactly the case.

Of course, the player is faced with incredible odds. Sure, you have teammates around in some missions, but they are not the smartest troopers you will ever meet. Instead of fighting effectively, they usually just stand there taking damage while firing their guns off in whatever direction they please. So before you know it, they’re all dead (or close enough to it) and it’s up to your lone guy to take on hundreds and hundreds of bugs. But the developers compensated for this. Your character has a regenerating shield (ripped straight out of the Halo games) as well as a main rifle that has unlimited ammo (you just have to take breaks from firing it so that it doesn’t overheat). There are nine guns throughout the course of the game as well, but more often than not using the gun that has unlimited bullets is your best bet. Each weapon does have dual functions, which is nice, but due to how many enemies you fight in each level, using all of the guns usually just isn’t practical.

There are some nice points to Starship Troopers, but there always seems to be some kind of negative point that overpowers it. Sure, the single player campaign is quite long and will last gamers a long time to play, but chances are good that they won’t want to make it all the way through. Several missions in the game are escort missions, some of the worst mission types ever invented in the industry. In almost all of these cases, not only is the person you’re escorting defenseless, but they also have a tendency to walk head on into a massive swarm of enemies. This more often than not leads to their death, and will have you ripping your hair out as you have to redo the mission for the twentieth time. On a side note, Strangelite did take the time to put deathmatch and co-op modes into the game, so this adds a multiplayer aspect. However, as the game engine is so choppy, I see little incentive to do any of this, and you’ll probably have a hard time finding others who want to even if you do own the game.

On paper, many of the elements promised for Starship Troopers sound pretty cool. But the way they were put into the actual game proved to be less than stellar and because of that the title suffers a lot. In a lot of games there are specific problems a developer could fix to make the title a must buy, but in the case of Starship Troopers, the developers could’ve gone back to the drawing board. By focusing on the more is better idea that doesn’t often work in gaming, Strangelite created a horribly average FPS experience that potential buyers might want to think twice about.

Overall Rating: 4.75

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