Chances are that you had one of two very distinct reactions the first time you saw Starship Troopers. You either loved it for its great special effects, hysterically cheeseball dialogue, and obtuse political commentary. Or, you loathed it for pretty much all the same reasons. Regardless of your opinion of the film, you will hate Starship Troopers, the PC first-person shooter developed by Strangelite more than seven years after the film's release. This ugly, cumbersome, and downright inept shooter contains none of the things that made the film so charming. And even if you have no prior experience with the name, the unbelievably repetitive gameplay, awful graphics, horrendous voice acting, and myriad of technical problems will have you screaming for the hills before you make it through a full hour of this nonsense. This is a purely unnecessary game that offers no justification for its existence, and it should be avoided.
Starship Troopers takes place five years after the events of the movie, and humanity is still very much at war with the Klendathu, a race of nasty bug aliens that may or may not actually be the bad guys, depending on how much you want to read into the film's subtext. You play as a nameless grunt in an elite squad called the Marauders. Or at least it's supposed to be a squad. You really don't run into other marauders on any kind of regular basis, and mostly you're working with faceless mobile infantry soldiers. Anyway, the plot doesn't really go anywhere. You go from mission to mission, shooting bugs, occasionally performing other objectives that require lots of shooting in between, and eventually you start to wonder how woefully inept this military of the future must be, since it constantly seems to find it useful to send in small groups of soldiers (and in some cases, just you) into these incredibly overmatched battle scenarios. Are we really that much more stupid than the bugs?
However, the biggest problem with Starship Troopers is that it only seems to have the vaguest sense of what its source material is really all about. The developers seem to have completely missed even the most surface-level points of Paul Verhoeven's film, because the game is completely bereft of the things that made it enjoyable--namely the subtle-as-a-brick-to-the-face musings about American politics, and its so-bad-it's-awesome dialogue. Even worse, the game tries desperately to tie itself into the film universe by tacking on footage from the movie in between missions. This footage is presented in the same style as the Federation news reports in the movie, with a cheesy narrator spouting government propaganda, but it just comes across as completely lazy. The narrator doesn't seem like he's in on the joke, and he just kind of flatly delivers his lines without any chutzpah. And the scenes from the movie are barely edited in any way, making it seem like the developers just didn't want to bother rendering out their own cutscenes. In what could be the missed opportunity of the year, despite the fact that the news reports end with the trademark "would you like to know more?" line, at no point are you given the chance to click on the button and learn more. It's just all cutscene with no interactivity. How detached from the original source material do you have to be to not realize the folly in such an oversight?
On the gameplay front, Starship Troopers is an achingly generic FPS that revolves almost exclusively around the concept of throwing lots of enemies at you at once. Or, to be more accurate, putting you in a situation where lots of bugs are floating around, having anywhere between 5 to 30 of them come at you at once, waiting until you've killed all of them, and then tossing more at you...lather, rinse, repeat. The bulk of the bugs you'll go up against are extremely easy to kill with just about any weapon in your arsenal, but the sheer number of them can be overwhelming at times (provided, of course, that you can't find some random nook or cranny of the scenery that they can't get to you in, in which case it's basically like shooting fish in a barrel). Seriously, we know these are insects, but they're basically all begging to be killed, and quickly. They just run at you in packs, blindly waving their front legs in a threatening manner, and the only way they can actually damage you is if they're practically on top of you. Granted, they're quick enemies, but as long as you have rounds in the chamber, it shouldn't be hard to just mow them all down in one big, green-blooded mess.
Other bug types will be thrown at you on occasion, like big plasma bugs that shoot nasty blue plasma bursts out of their butts, and flasher bugs that temporarily blind you while simultaneously signaling other bugs in the area to come rushing in. But apart from these occasional wrinkles, the game seems largely content with sending wave after wave of meaningless grunt bugs at you, with the occasional big bug lumbering behind to act as a mediocre boss fight. The really irritating thing about this setup is the way in which the bugs attack you. The game claims it can have hundreds of bugs onscreen at once, but they don't come after you all at once, save for very rare and very frustratingly overwhelming situations. Even worse is that you are often tricked into thinking that you can move forward. You'll kill a wave of bugs, move a few feet forward, see another wave coming, back off, shoot them all, move another few feet forward, and so on and so forth. It's a gigantic tease, and some of these missions just drag on forever because of this insipid methodology.
It doesn't help matters that you're rarely given much assistance while going through these bug-riddled environments. The artificial intelligence-controlled Federation soldiers all have a major death wish, and they are physically incapable of running away when a horde of charging bugs are coming at them. They'll just sit there, firing their guns mostly ineffectively, clearly accepting their inevitable doom. While there was certainly plenty of soldier slaughter in the film, the soldiers were at least adept at killing bugs now and again. These suicidal morons couldn't hit the broadside of a barn. Ultimately, this leads to too many scenarios where you're lone-wolfing it past ridiculous numbers of enemies, once again making the whole process an overly lengthy and tedious bore.