Sunday, February 2, 2014

Starship Troopers (The Game)

  If there's anything that the 1997 sci-fi satire sold to it's audiences in spades, it was how friggin awesome the concept of soldiers vs. giant alien bugs was. It's not as if the concept hasn't been around for eons, but Starship Troopers, both the original novel, and it's subsequent franchise of spin-offs and adaptions have really cornered the market on it. However, most visible out of all the iterations and adaptions and what-have-you was the 1997 movie. In an era where video games were flourishing and the industry was booming, it was only a small leap to imagine what it would be like... stepping into the boots of a Mobile Infantry trooper, and killing some bugs. Only, a movie based game wouldn't come out in the late nineties. Thankfully, one didn't come out until 2005. I say thankfully because the graphics and gaming engines required to faithfully present the overwhelming swarms of arachnid Warrior Bugs wasn't available back in the 90's. The 2000's however...

  When I would hear of a Starship Troopers game, I wanted to 'join up!' Hell, I wanted to 'do my part!'Honestly, I just wanted to shoot alot of giant alien bugs. I played Lost Planet for a while back on the PS3, and I thought, "Heyyy this is the closest I'm gonna get to a Starship Troopers game!" Then I played Borderlands, in which you have to fight some giant arachnids at a few points in there. I thought, "Heyyy this is even better. Even closer to Starship Troopers!" Yet clearly, watching the movie inspired a desire to suit up in that body armor, and shoot some of those bugs, in that world. I'm making it very clear how quickly I tired of substitutes and how very very badly I wanted an actual Starship Troopers game. Now, I had a fortunate turn of events a while ago, and I was blessed with a decent gaming computer. Thus I began a hunt for all the PC games I never got to play on my Playstations 2 and 3. Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K. 2, Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, Left 4 Dead 2, and others. Only recently, did I remember, "Oh shit! A Starship Troopers game exists!"

  I found... a way to get it, and I went through hell trying to install it and fix it and tweak it to work right- but I did and it was Christmas morning all over again. I'm pretty sure I would've heard an angelic choir denoting the moment in the background if I wasn't so knee deep in bug carcasses, going deaf from the sound of my own Morita MK 1 assault rifle... It's remotely possible that I'm... slightly exaggerating. However, suffice it to say, I was a happy camper. The game does one thing exceptionally well: give you bugs to shoot. It captures the feeling of the movie with massive, eye-popping swarms of arachnids coming after you to rip you limb from limb. It's up to you to lock and load and start spouting movie quotes. "C'mon you apes, you wanna live forever?" Furiously clicking away on the mouse as the bugs close in, you feel like a real M.I. trooper. Well, short of actually being in one of the movies anyways. Anybody who wanted a game based on this movie, wanted to shoot bugs. We weren't looking for complex level design and intellectual gameplay. We wanted to shoot bugs. Lots of bugs. This game, if anything at all, lets you do that.

  Unfortunately... this doesn't exactly mean it's a good game. As far as gaming itself goes, this has it's fair share of issues. For one, the bugs aren't nearly as tough as they were in the movie. It took a regular arachnid warrior all of two seconds flat to kill an average trooper. Slice, bite, impale, stab, decapitate. Whatever your preferred means of death was, the bug was happy to accommodate you. Yet in the game, you can get hit like thirty times and not be dead. Bullshit! I call bullshit! Not to mention, it's also really easy to kill the standard arachnid warriors. With the regular assault rifle you're given, it takes only a few short bursts to put one down for good. Dead. Bullshit! MORE bullshit! In the movie it took like three to four troopers, firing consistently, a good thirty to forty seconds to kill one of these things. You feel WAY too powerful. I can imagine this is to make up for a lack of co-operative A.I. in any of the other troopers. You're called a "Marauder" in the game, which means you're like a mega badass. I think this was supposed to explain why you're essentially a one man army going Commando on the entire arachnid empire... but it's a cheap excuse.

  Those are very big flaws. The game does seem kind of like it was made in a hurry, and on a tight budget too. Part of the problem of coming out in 2005 was how out of the blue it was. I can't imagine it got a lot of support or funding. Starship Troopers came out two years shy of a decade earlier, and the 2004 sequel was a direct-to-video dud that nobody much liked. At all. So... there wasn't exactly a demanding market for this game. Even at the height of the franchise's popularity, I can't imagine a proper Starship Troopers movie game would garner much interest anyways. This arrived and died without so much as a death rattle to bid the spotlight farewell. I guess you can call it a cult hit now since fans seem to like it a lot. Why is that? Because the game, despite it's glaring issues, manages to faithfully emulate the big bug wars of the movies.

  It takes a few levels right from the first movie, more or less. The important ones anyways. Plasma mountain, the compound on Tango Urilla, etc etc. Details and settings have been swapped around so it's not like you're playing -the- movie, but you'll find some locations incredibly familiar. As a fan, I could do nothing but flash a big smile and enjoy it. The game also introduces alot of new bugs. Which in concept (and proof if you count 99% of all the shitty video game movie tie-ins and adaptions) could be dumb if handled improperly. However, they strike gold more often than not, serving up fresh and unique challenges that expands on the movie's world, not screws with it. I think they get sorta carried away with the different Warrior bug types, but that's not even really a fully formed complaint. It's just kinda like... Really. A new one? Again? No biggie though. It's still loads of fun to run around with the troops, hold the front lines, clear out a few bases, and well... kill bugs. Kill em' all. Not gonna lie, the game isn't great. Barely qualifies as good, if at all. But, by god, it's fun. Infectiously fun. Ridiculously fun. It's "Kill em' all!" fun, it's one-liner, boot stomping, "Nuke em' Rico!"-fun.

  You won't find a better 'Troopers game. They may make another one someday. I doubt it. So for now, if you wanna kill some bugs, save the world, and be a hero... I suggest you Join up! Do your part! Enlist in the mobile infantry! They have the ships, they have the weapons, all they need now is troopers like Lieutenant Johnny Rico, Captain Carmen Ibanez, Private Ace Levy, Captain V.J. Dax, and YOU. So if you think you have what it takes to be a citizen, join up now and play Starship Troopers, the game!

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