STARSHIP TROOPERS: TERRAN ASCENDANCY

by HeroOfAvalon
Based on the best-selling novel and sci-fi smash-hit movie, Starship Troopers’ brings a cataclysmic invasion of giant insects to life on your PC Lead a squad of heavily armored, over-the-top Troopers on a series of in-your-face, real-time battles against vicious bug battalions. Call in air strikes, capture prisoners and nuke bug holes -- It's survival of the fittest and the last one standing wins. Answer the call and defend your planet! 
~ advertising blurb

I'm new to real-time strategy games. Having really enjoyed the original movie, Starship Troopers: Terran Ascendancy (2000, Blue Tongue Entertainment) seemed to have the goods for a first attempt. The film has great action, a fun over-the-top sci-fi story, interesting characters and disgusting vicious enemies. Unfortunately, if you’re looking for a story and decent characters this game will leave you hugely disappointed. There is little in the way of an engaging narrative and what there is comes in mission briefings before starting the level, in-game communications and basic in-game cutscenes. There are also no individual colourful characters, just your squad of generic soldiers. Also, of note for those that like multiplayer in their RTS’s,  you'll be sorely disappointed; the game purely has one campaign mode. On the plus side though, there are plenty of ugly bugs for your squad to rip through with their weapons.

Painfully aware of my lack of skill in these types of games, I moved straight to the training missions. If I remember them enough, maybe I'll make it back alive. There are four missions which explain the basics of controlling your squad. These are all generic enough training missions which started to allow me to get an understanding of the basics, however, for some reason the developer decided to put time limits in theses. If you don’t complete your orders in time you fail and have to start over. As a newbie to this genre, I found this very frustrating as it did not give adequate time for me to get to grips with the squad member types, keyboard key functions or give me room to experiment. This was not a good start and I left these missions bored and underprepared.

With the campaign proper, you are unceremoniously dumped on planet Klendathu, told to kill all the bugs and destroy the ground holes they are coming up from. The first thing here I picked up on was the environments. Now I know the planets are supposed to be barren, but what is delivered is a whole new level of Barren. You are in a flat yellow/brown desert and mountains. There are no visual treats to be found here, with all levels being a variety of desert. There are some ice levels later on, but these seem to be little more than colour pallet change from Yellow to White. The combat graphics are much better. With bugs going down under a hail of gunfire making skirmishes far more satisfying from a visual standpoint.

Unlike what I expected with the real-time-strategy genre, there is no building of bases, gathering of resources or recruiting of units here. You start with up to three squads and end the level with whoever survives. The cusp of the game revolves around manoeuvring your squad in the hope that they'll kill all of the alien bugs infesting the planet.

At the start of the mission, you can pick the different types of troopers that make up your squad such as the standard soldier, heavy grunt, flame wielders etc. All units have a limited supply of ammo you will have to manage carefully and stock up at the various supply drop pods placed seemingly at random. I found killing the basic bugs easy enough but changing between weapons or unit types was much fiddlier. This is necessary to destroy bug holes or larger enemies, so wrestling with the controls made these encounters far trickier. One interesting addition which is not as commonplace for an RTS that I'm aware of is levelling up. At the end of the level, surviving soldiers gain experience points, which will suddenly allow them to wear better armour and wield better weapons.

As I progressed the missions seem to then to fade into one. Yes, you get different objectives such as hunting enemy types, escorting clientele or capturing brain bugs, but nothing really stood out to me. It just seemed to be 'walk around, then shoot at things with what you've got'. But even if such design does engage, it would be for nought due to the entirely broken camera. If all of your squad is alive and huddled together, you'll likely have no problem, but it gets majorly confused when soldiers are separated either by deed or by death. It appears to want to keep track of both unnecessarily causing it to focus on nothing at all. In certain circumstances, it is a veritable game-breaker.

While I can see the promise of an RTS in the Starship Troopers universe, I was personally left very disappointed. It failed to excite me enough to be interested in a genre I'm not too fond of to begin with and for one that came out in 2000, I feel it's dated rather poorly. I'm sure there's plenty here to sink your teeth into if you love an RTS - it got average-to-decent reviews upon release after all - but if you are new to this, Starship Troopers: Terran Ascendancy has far too steep a learning curve and far too little variety to drag you in. I would give it a wide berth.

https://collectionchamber.blogspot.com/search/label/Review%20by%20HeroOfAvalon

To download the game, follow the link below. This is a custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses dgVoodoo in conjunction with DxWind to run on modern systems. nGlide 3D Wrapper (included) must be installed. Manual included. Tested on Windows 10.

File Size: 298 Mb.  Install Size: 569 Mb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ

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Starship Troopers: Terran Ascendancy is © Blue Tongue Inc
Review by HeroOfAvalon
Cover Design and Installer created by me


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3 comments:

  1. Dull as dishwater.

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  2. Nice review, shame about the game.

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    Replies
    1. I remember playing a demo of the game in the early 2000s and thought it was OK. I believe it was a budget release back then and I don't recall having issues with the camera, but then it was just a demo. If it wasn't for that, I'd think it'll be an above-average action-strategy but in its current state, it's not all that. Those who already like the genre will probably get more out of it.

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