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Infested Planet: Review

Back in the halcyon days of late 2013, before the world obviously ended, I wrote a preview for neat little RTS in the style of a battle field commander writing home to his family. Now the game has finally been released with it’s big boy pants on, earning a full review, and has apparently decided that it wants to be an accountant.

Infested Planet is a strategy game developed by Rocket Bear Games. It features killing bugs and, eventually, getting killed by bugs.Flash_and___Friends___by_PanhandlerThe game starts off pretty simply: You have five guys with guns and you’re told to go blow up some hives that look suspiciously like a recolored versions of your own base. There’s no resource mining or management to build up an army to faceroll some bugs, you have five soldiers who all use machine guns in which to go rule the whole world. Each time you capture an enemy hive, you get some resources to use to hire another guy or build some defenses for your bases. You usually need your whole team to get take a new point but the bugs won’t just sit there; bugs from any point on the map might decide that your nearest base looks tasty and swarm.

At first this creates a very strategic set up: choose which points to invade based on each of defense and such. They even place random resources around the map that you might to go get before you can even think about expansion. However, you’ll start to notice that perfect tactics isn’t enough to keep winning the later missions. You’ll need to buy the latest and greatest toys that become unlocked as you complete story missions. These are, admittedly, very cool, adding new methods of lateral thinking or just letting you more easily take well-defended areas. However, this is the first point in which you start being guided into the position of “Army Bean Counter”. The progression has items being unlocked faster than you can buy them all. Which means you’re going to have to start grinding old missions.ss09Luckily, having designed the need for some grinding, the developers gives you lines of optional missions in which to participate for money. Many of them even give a bonus for finishing more quickly, which is determined by your tactical prowess and, well, how many toys you’ve got. Still, these missions added some challenge and I was able to buy most of the toys without having to replay too much, but then I suddenly hit a wall.

This game gets hard and unforgiving. Even with all the neat toys, I found that I wasn’t getting enough resources to protect my current bases while also expanding to the next, and the problem got worse the more hives I took over. The enemy eventually gets the ability to mutate whenever you kill a hive. The mutations are a new twist to enemies that better themselves… but the benefits are instantaneous, random, and the wrong combinations could leave hives almost impossible to breach. The best way to handle the later missions are to buy free soldier upgrades for the next mission. The upgrades usually cost resources but you buy those upgrades from the store as a one-time use thing. These are very expensive. So it’ll be back off to grinding. A lot of grinding for each mission. Grinding grinding grinding.

The worst part is the goal for which you are grinding. You’re a group of contracted military grunts after some Unobtainium “goodies” which is being guarded by the Na’vi “mindless bugs”. That’s about it, they don’t tell you much about what you’re looking for or why it’s important. Personally, grinding was only tolerable if I wanted to succeed at saving the world or stopping the bad guys or something. The opposite happens, in fact, the more progress in the game, the more it becomes about killing all of the bugs. The leader of your group even says, at one point, that it’s time to get off the planet. But the scientist doesn’t want to because the giant bug will ruin this ugly planet you’ve just drained.Infested Planet 5

Speaking of which, the graphics are passable, but the design is one note. When you’ve started your first mission, take a look around: There, that’s where you’ll be fighting for the whole game. Sure, sometimes it’s bigger and it might be shaped more like an S, but that gray ground is where you live now. The gray walls are like the curved padded walls in the cell in which you hunt down the purple bits and make them stop spawning bugs. And you’ll be all alone, because there isn’t any multiplayer. But every week there will be new challenge maps where you can try to get best score to beat the best scores of people on a leaderboard.

I originally liked the game because it was a nice cathartic mix of strategy and tactical combat but it quickly became a grindy slog that’s still a bit of a challenge after the grinding. If you’re into that sort of stuff, give it a go.

Final score 6/10.

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