Starship Troopers: Terran Command Review

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I’ll be totally honest, I did not have a Starship Troopers RTS game on my 2022 bingo card. Set in the same universe as the late 90s sci-fi film, Starship Troopers: Terran Command tasks players with fighting the iconic arachnid army that made the film so unique. Terran Command may not feature any of the main characters (or shower scenes), but everything from art style through to the writing feels authentic to the original aesthetic of the film.

Across the campaign players control numerous squads of troopers as they fight against the arachnid army. Each map features a unique objective, along with optional tasks to divert your attention. Players explore and fight their way across maps, expanding and improving their army as they go along. If you’ve played an RTS before, you’ll pretty much know what to expect here.

What did surprise me was just how much depth there was in Terran Command. What initially appears to be a fairly standard real-time strategy experience soon develops with an impressive collection of gameplay systems. There are numerous squad types, multiple enemy variants, a number of outposts and base types within the world and different missions.

Starship Troopers Terran Command Review RTS

These all blend together to create a fun experience that challenges players across a number of different battles. You’ll fight at numerous heights, across varying terrain and both outdoors and indoors. I preferred the tighter missions in Terran Command, as I found they flowed a little more naturally than the large exploration-based levels. It’s easy to get a little lost on the larger levels, as the objectives aren’t always clear. The more confined levels dodge this issue by providing a much more linear path.

There are a number of units to choose from in Terran Command. The standard soldier units are great all rounders, providing reliable attack power at numerous distances, while Engineer troopers are more effective at short range with flamethrowers and mountable machine guns. There are numerous other types that provide both offensive and defensive support, and it’s finding a balance between these units that leads to success.

Players unlock additional units by capturing bases and buildings across each map. As you build your presence across the battlefield, your team grows stronger and more capable. The arachnid army can capture these points back, so you need to strike a good balance between exploring the map and defending your bases.

Starship Troopers Terran Command Review Night Mission

Terran Command does have its issues, though. Controlling the numerous units can be incredibly fiddly sometimes. It’s easy to send units to the wrong place, or right into the path of enemies. The AI can also be fairly stupid sometimes, as your units will occasionally stand idly in front of attacking arachnids. If you ever end up in front of the aliens, you’ll probably end up dead. This is considerably frustrating when you end up fighting Terra Command’s fiddly point and click controls, and die through no fault of your own.

Fortunately, the punishment for death is reasonably slim. As soon as a unit dies, you are able to request a replacement almost instantly. You do lose any levels and skills gained by the unit that dies, but their replacement doesn’t take long to gain its own experience. The ability to request units so quickly does feel considerably fitting considering the original film’s value of human life, and Terra Command continues that underlying criticism of war.

While the 1997 film has a cult following and had a modern reappraisal of its underlying themes, I’m not entirely sure who this game is really for and suspect there’s a relatively small crossover on the Venn diagram of passionate Starship Trooper fans and RTS fans. For those who do fall into that bracket, Terran Command is pretty much exactly what you’d want. For RTS fans though, there are already far more polished experiences available. And for fans of Starship Troopers who are fresh to video games, I think Terran Command is probably a bit too difficult.

Starship Troopers: Terran Command is an interesting experience. It doesn’t do anything particularly original, or push the RTS genre in any way, but it perfectly mimics the aesthetic and humour of the original film, making for a pleasant, if somewhat frustrating RTS experience. 
  • Perfectly captures the spirit of the film
  • Deep RTS experience
  • Fiddly controls
  • Frustrating AI