Patience is name of game

GAME ROOM

March 12, 2001|By KNIGHT RIDDER NEWS SERVICE

Microprose's Starship Troopers is mildly entertaining - but really won't appeal to you unless you have lots of time and patience.

This is a squad-based roleplaying strategy game in which you complete missions as a lieutenant in charge of a group of soldiers.

The game is based on the interstellar space odyssey directed by Paul Verhoeven and released by TriStar Pictures back in 1997 with some references to the original 1950s sci-fi novel by Robert A. Heinlein.

The story is pretty simple. After arachnids (a.k.a. bugs) from outer space destroy Buenos Aires with an intergalactic device, earthlings retaliate by attempting to exterminate the bugs. While the movie ends with the capture of a brain bug, the game extends further into the development of the campaign against the arachnids.

Starship Troopers ($40) requires some power on the part of your computer. It will run on a 400 MHz Pentium II with 128 megabytes of RAM and a 3-D video card. You'll need to be running Windows 98 and have about 800 megabytes of hard drive space to play.

It is rated for ages 13 and up.

The graphics are excellent, but single units tend to look somewhat blocky when you zoom in. Also, game play fluidity and detail varies from computer to computer because it is highly dependent on your video card. This emphasis is a double-edged sword, depending on your video card.

Game play itself is surprisingly addictive despite the many drawbacks. The user interface is easy to learn, but there are no true tactics involved. All you need to do is gather your units into one big group and you will ultimately succeed in all of the missions. Perhaps the most complex tactic is baiting the enemy and goading it into a squad.

The two most annoying aspects of the game are the lack of a game speed option and the inability to save or load a game in the middle of a mission. Combined with long missions and huge maps, the lack of saving and loading within a mission made the game quite frustrating because of hours wasted repeating the same mission.

Starship Troopers has a few interesting role-playing game characteristics, including gaining experience, equipping individual units and upgrading weapons.

As the game drags on and more veterans die, however, you have a higher ratio of fresh recruits in your squad and each mission becomes more difficult.

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