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Starship Troopers

Back to the story. The events of the movie only take the player through the first of the three five-mission campaigns. Strangelite don't want to reveal too much about the final campaign as yet but the second sees the humans driving back the Arachnids and attempting to track down a Queen bug. In one mission, plasma bugs are picking off all your drop ships, so you're charged with scaling a mountain to lay markers for your bombers. The mountain - a concept sketch looks like a cross between an oversized termite mound and Hieronymous Bosch's Tower of Babel - is one of many, and as you're taking out one, other squads will be doing the same, so you'll see the other mountains blowing up in the far background.

Later in the campaign, you have to fight your way across a huge bridge defended by Arachnids although this is still but a taster, claims Jones. "The mission after the bridge is the biggest one we've done so far," he says. "The battles in The Lord of the Rings are a good comparison, as is Zulu. It's in a massive valley and there's an earthquake in the centre, and all these bugs run down and you're coming down as well, and you meet in the middle. It's pretty mental, that one."

Citing the pell-mell of the Omaha Beach sequence of Medal of Honour, Jones states confidently that, "It's only ever going to escalate from that. The whole game is trying to be that intense. Obviously, there are going to be quiet periods but most of the levels have got a battle sequence that'll raise your temperature." After all this talk of teeming hordes of bugs inundating the humans, you could forgiven for thinking that Starship Troopers might play like a souped up Doom, target practice for the frag-starved. This is just what Strangelite are working on now, getting a feel for the gameplay implications of what they're trying to create. "In the huge battles that take place in Call of Duty and, to some extent, in Halo, the enemy have all got ranged weapons and they can fire at you from distance," muses Jones. "We need ours to be in your face, two or three metres away from you. Balancing that is the tricky bit, so that's what I'm concentrating on at the moment, getting one of these big battle scenes up and running. That'll be the testbed for the rest of the game." Simply standing there and firing into a mass of bugs won't be an option, then. Instead, it seems as if you'll be constantly prioritising, trying to pick out the more dangerous, specialist bugs while keeping the onrushing warriors at bay.

Strangelite seem intent on wringing all they can from their rich source material, and the rescue sorties, desperate last stands and grand battles they have planned should make for an epic spectacle when the game arrives at the end of the year. And here's a teasing thought to leave you with. All the numbers bandied around as to how many bugs'll be on screen at once are, according to Jones, conservative estimates. "You might think three or four hundred's a lot but it's not," he smiles. "We already know we're well capable of doing that." Praise the Lord and pass the pesticide.

Expect Starship Troopers to be bugging you this Christmas.

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