Starship Troopers bug report

Starship Troopers has been deeply ensconced within its development chrysalis at Strangelite Studios for quite some time - we caught of it well over a year ago - so when we were granted some time with it recently we were keen to see how the game had evolved.

Of course, anyone familiar with the eponymous 1997 satirical sci-fi movie will be anticipating bugs - that's the creepy-crawly kind rather than program errors - and lots of them. And we're happy to report that they won't be disappointed.

Developer Strangelite claims that its aptly named Swarm engine can churn out 300 bugs onscreen simultaneously, and, while we only saw about half this number scuttling about at any one time, the visual impact of hordes of spindly limbed beasts cascading over the landscape is certainly dramatic.

If the large-scale skirmish we witnessed is a fair indication of what to expect, then the nitty-gritty of exterminating the mandible marauders should be both frantic and intense, with wave after wave of terrestrials providing a mass sprawl of targets.

And while rapid-firing bullets recklessly into a teeming throng will score a few hits, to ensure some degree of skill is required each type of bug has an Achilles heel, which, once identified, gives the player the opportunity to take it out far more efficiently.

The game will feature 19 bugs, most of which are taken from various sources within the Starship Troopers universe, although some are entirely new specimens created specifically for the game.

Repellent comes in the form of nine different weapons, each of which has dual abilities, and ranges from a standard rifle (complete with infinite ammo offset by a tendency to overheat) to a punch-packing grenade launcher.

Besides squishing stuff, the player will constantly receive objectives and mission updates to keep them on their toes, and the fury of battle will often be punctuated with, what seem to be, fairly conventional tasks.

Without a doubt the game needs respite between its raucous set-pieces, but the developer needs to ensure that it finely tunes the balance so the pace doesn't fluctuate wildly between massive peaks and lowly troughs.

In terms of storyline, the player starts off as a grunt within a squad and, well, has to kill anything with multiple appendages. How much more do you need to know? Although it should be said that the player's role as squad member will, for the most part, be fairly superficial.

As an interesting side note for fans of the flick, Casper Van Dien, who played Johnny Rico in the first movie, has been signed up to provide voice acting talents.

Thankfully, Starship Troopers seems to have more in common with the flash-bang action of the original movie, rather than the universally panned sequel. And while it isn't trying to reinvent the first-person shooter, it should provide an orgy of killing sufficient enough to satisfy even the most raging bug-lust.

Starship Troopers will be released for PC in winter 2005