The world needs more Starship Troopers. I love the books, I love the movies, and I particularly love the CGI animated series that was never finished. We haven’t heard much from that front in a while, however, and that has been quite disappointing. I do believe that they have a lot of potential with the franchise and that they should try to dig into it. Heck, maybe even do a reboot of it. Meanwhile though, we have something to play. It’s not Starship Troopers, but it does a damn good job at giving us that feeling. This game is Infested Planet.
Infested Planet is all about extermination – extermination of BUGS! You are part of an expedition from the human race looking to establish a colony, and your planet of choice hosts an alien race of bugs. The great General leading the charge is convinced that they have no intelligence and that it will be a quick victory. The reality of things come crashing down when everyone realises that the bugs can adapt and won’t go down that easily. If that’s not enough, the band of mercenaries you follow is sent all over the place (since High Command does not trust them) and ends up helping the scientific division with their task.
To help you out on the planet, you have control of a group of soldiers that will be following your commands during this tactical top-down strategy game. You have various commands and weapons to help you out. You are also able to construct specific buildings and defenses to help you out along the way, but you won’t be able to do that until you are paid for each of your successful missions. With the money you earn from your missions, you will be able to buy various things in the shop. Most are permanent unlocks that will be available in each mission. Weapons like shotguns and flame throwers, technology to help you build without the help of a soldier near the defense or building, and mega siege turrets that lay waste to enemies in no time at all are all things you will find in there. The best part is that it also includes one-time buys that will just be available for the mission you are undertaking. These can also be bought for each mission if you have the money available for it. These goodies are purchasable with Build Points (BP). You always start each mission with a specific amount of BP, and you gain more as you conquer strategic points or find BP crates around the map. It does a pretty good job of immersing you in the world of limited resources on a battlefield during war-time. You have to manage what you can get and try to get every scrap of BP on the field to be able to defend yourself properly and do your job – exterminating the bugs. Your soldiers’ ammo for their guns doesn’t diminish – they have unlimited ammunition, which is strange when you consider that the rocket launcher ammo is not unlimited immediately, but regenerates as you wait or kill things. You also have crates that help you regenerate that type of ammo faster. The same ammo that is used by the rocket launcher can be also used by one of the buildings to build other buildings and defend without needing a soldier nearby to protect what is being constructed. It’s very very useful if you need to suddenly defend your strategic points while your troops are not around, but it’s also costly in BP. You will have to wait for the ammo to return so it can stop your enemy’s advance. I do suggest you take a good look at the control key. The game does not advertise that you can make groups of soldiers help you by dividing your troops to conquer the field, but it’s a very important aspect. The bugs will attack from various directions at the same time, to the point of overwhelming your defenses sometimes, and you won’t be able to protect everything at once if you move all your soldiers to one spot.
The soldier side is simple, really, but the bug side gets nasty real fast. These bugs can mutate, and when they do, expect all hell to break loose. They have a possibility to go through one of the 34 mutations at random intervals during your conquest. It mostly happens when you capture strategic points from them after destroying the hives. This mutation can be anything from a shield on the hive to ultra-fast bugs when you kill a hive. Heck, some of the mutations make hives appear out of nowhere. It can also change the bugs trying to decimate you – the more mutations they get, the harder it will be to win. It can get to the point where you’ll be in a stalemate and won’t be able to get rid of their defense because they regenerate too fast. It makes the game that much more interesting. If you want to challenge yourself and you are not doing the campaign, you can use the pre-made skirmish difficulties to make it worthwhile or make a custom one to either have tons of fun or make it even harder than the hardest skirmish.
But that’s not all! These maps are only presets, and they are randomly generated in that preset. It means you’ll never see the same map and hive placement twice. It adds a lot of replay value to a game that would seem to be only a story game. There’s no multiplayer whatsoever since it would probably be too easy to beat the bugs if you could play with a buddy, but they do have the potential to do some type of multiplayer. They could add either a mode where teams race to get the most strategic points, or a mode where one player plays as the bugs and the other the soldiers. Maybe the team behind Infested Planet will bring us something interesting in future patches. However, at the moment, you have the weekly challenges to look forward to and leaderboards to compete in. It’s a very interesting way to see if you are the best bug squasher amongst your friends.
I’ve barely talked about the graphics of the game so far, so it’s only fair I give you my opinion on them. It’s a top-down game, so you can’t expect anything major, but it’s vibrant and it fits the style well. These graphics make it a lot easier for computers to process the amount of things moving at the same time. With the hive spamming bugs to attack you, anything more graphically demanding would probably have crippled the game, so while it’s not a masterpiece of graphics and art, it’s totally suited for the game.
Speaking of suited for the game, the music is too. It has a good videogame-music feeling with a side of electronic music and a sci-fi vibe to it. It’s appropriate music to go to war listening to, if I may say so, because I just feel like I can kill more bugs when I listen to it. The variety can be a bit lacking, but it can be an illusion sometimes as some of the tracks are similar to each other. Infested Planet is a tactical game; you’ll see that there’s a lack of text and no voiceover. The only parts you really read are the start of the mission and some comments during the campaign from some of the NPCs. There’s really not a lot of it, and you can close the bubbles on your screen with no worries. Your job is to kill bugs, after all, so you can decide to ignore whatever they say completely. It’s definitely more entertaining to read it, though.
This game has potential to become more depending on what the developers decide to do. Infested Planet definitely can be fun to play, and you won’t get bored of it anytime soon. Just from the weekly challenges and the ever-changing skirmishes, you’ll entertain yourself with hours of fun even though the campaign might not take you as long as you think to play. It’s also a decently priced game compared to the ever-increasing cost of disc-based games lately. This tactical strategy game is not a game you want to ignore.
This review is based on a digital version of Infested Planet provided to 3GEM by the publisher for the PC.