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Starship Troopers

The most immediate are the eye-catching evolutions to the basic warrior class, the main Arachnid in the movie. Apart from the entry level warrior, there are now tougher, meaner variants. Distinguishable by natty stripes and bolstered by armour on his legs, the aforementioned tiger won't just charge straight at you, all mandibles blazing. According to senior programmer, Dr Doug Binks, "He's a more free-roaming, intelligent beast; the tactical, special ops kind of guy." Further up the evolutionary scale is the royal warrior, blessed with more spiky weapons and better armour, then, finally, the imperial warrior. "He's a heavyweight dude," says Binks, "used mainly to protect the most important areas of the hive - nest areas, the queen's lair, brain bugs - and whilst he's not a boss, you'll need to work at him to beat him."

Other bugs perform unique functions in the Arachnid army, such as rhino bugs which act as battering rams, pounding an opening in the human front line. "It's actually based on the rhino beetle," says lead artist, Andy McCann, his small work space lined with concept sketches of the game's insects. "It's a nasty little bleeder with great big horn on the front, but we've gone with a three-pronged effect because it didn't look alien enough."

Finding the need for a projectile-firing foe amid all the melee attacks, the Strangelite team came up with the cliff mite, a miniature version of the giant, artillery-like plasma bugs. They hide in the mountains, chewing on rocks which they turn into a plasma solution and spit at you. Then, there's the rippler, adopted from the animated series. A kind of assassin, he can run, swim and fly and Strangelite have even added a cloaking device. "He's going to track you for long periods and find the best time to kill you," adds McCann. Another interesting bug is the sentinel. "The bugs need an early warning system in the tunnels and this guy supplies it. He's basically a big light and will sit there in the dark until you come along, when he'll light up and run off and warn all the other bugs." Unless, of course, you can shoot him in time.

So much for the Arachnids but where do you come in? The opening of the game shows the same disastrous Klendathu night landing that began the film, and when it all goes wrong, a captain rescues your grunt. "The next time you see the game in action," outlines Jones, "it'll be five years on and you've progressed up the ranks and are in this elite squad now. These special forces will just run out and obliterate everything because they've got more powerful guns - rocket launchers, guided missiles - whereas the grunts have just got the normal guns in the film."

Casting the player as a special forces operative was a key design decision for Strangelite, as it allowed the player to swing the tide of battles - and gave them a bit of armour so they wouldn't peg it immediately on contact with the Arachnids like so many of the grunts. Another major decision was to give the player unlimited ammo for their main assault rifle. With the bugs coming thick and fast, it was thought that the last thing the player wanted to be burdened with was constant magazine changes. "You've always got the main rifle to fall back on," reasons Jones, "and it will do a good enough job all the way through the game, but the other guns will do a better job for a short amount of time." As for your squad, they'll be following orders, their tactics pre-planned by the level designer. "The difficulty with squad design is if you add too much intelligence, they'll complete the game for you," argues Binks. "So it's more along the Call of Duty style where they're told where to go and you have to fill in the gaps. That produces much more gameplay than if they were fully intelligent and therefore capable of what you're supposed to be doing."

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