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Infested Planet (Preview)

The number of games I’ve seen on Steam’s new “Early Access” section has increased over these past few months, bringing more Alpha and Beta goodness to gamers everywhere.  I really like the idea of pitching in and helping games still in development, as players usually receive some sort of discount or bonus for being avid supporters.  It’s a win-win for everyone, and such is the case with “Infested Planet”.  In this particular strategy game, players will be fending off waves of nasty aliens that improve and mutate as you attempt to wipe them out.  It’s an interesting tower defense / real-time strategy / squad management mix that will keep players engaged from start to finish.  Before we take a sneak peek at the Beta, I’d like to thank Alex Vostrov (the game’s creator) for providing me with a free press copy.

Infested Planet

Infested Planet (Windows, Mac)

I spent a good deal of time in the campaign, the beginning of which started out nice and slow, giving me the time I needed to get the hang of the gameplay elements.  The first mission, for example, focuses solely on moving your squad of five around the map.  You’ll be helping friendly NPCs wipe out aliens and the nests from which they spawn. Alien nests are scattered around the map and pour out aliens at a very fast rate, meaning that you’ll have to stay on top of things and push forward whenever possible.  The subsequent missions proceeded to teach me about squad health, capturing bases, building turrets, and replenishing ammo.  By the fifth or sixth mission, you’ll be putting all of those mechanics together in an attempt to stay alive.

The mechanics themselves are fairly straight-forward.  New bases can be built on areas where you’ve destroyed a nest, providing you with a new point in which friendly reinforcements can spawn.  It is very difficult to keep squad members alive and I found myself going through them like the mobile infantry did in Starship Troopers.  After a short amount of time, a dead squad mate will respawn at the nearest base.  You can issue attack order moves and makes use of special weapons like rockets to get you past some pretty tough obstacles, however you’ll find yourself struggling regardless when the aliens decide to mutate.  Mutations ramp up the difficulty in various ways, keeping the player on their toes even when victory seems to be within their grasp.

Infested Planet

Capture bases quickly, or alien nests will respawn and unleashing more hell for your troopers.

Base-building isn’t as complex as your average tower defense game.  You gain build points by capturing bases and bringing metal crates back to a friendly base.  If you have enough build points, you can spawn new turrets for offensive and defensive purposes.  You’ll constantly be capturing and moving around, making the game’s recycle feature a lot more useful than usual.  Recycling a turret refunds those build points by 100%, allowing you to reorganize your layout as the situation changes.  You can also spend your precious build points to upgrade your squad’s weapons, though this means that you’ll have less to spend on turrets.  I like that I was able to switch between the different weapons at will, which either increased or decreased my build points appropriately.  It allowed me to easily adapt to the situation at hand.

Overall, I’m having a good time with the Beta.  I didn’t touch on the research tree, nor did I touch on the game’s skirmish mode.  After all, previews are designed to give you a taste of what’s to come.  Speaking of which, the game is estimated to be released sometime late summer.  It’s important to note that the release date (I’m told) is heavily influenced by customer feedback, so nothing is set in stone at this point.  You can buy into the Beta now on Steam for $11.99 (as of 7/3/13), down from $14.99.  Doing so guarantees you the final copy of the game, plus access to the Beta. It’s too early to form any sort of final opinion, but I will say that “Infested Planet” is shaping up rather nicely.  I honestly can’t wait to get back to the mass slaughter of alien bugs…who could?

You can learn more about and purchase into the Beta by visiting the following websites:

http://store.steampowered.com/app/204530/

http://www.indiebird.com/blog/

http://www.rocketbeargames.com/

You can view video play sessions here:

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