“Infested Planet” has come a long way since July of 2013, the day that I first laid my hands on this incredible masterpiece. I was impressed with the Beta then and I’m pleased to say that the game only got better from there. For those of you who aren’t familiar with “Infested Planet” or haven’t checked out my preview, it’s a top-down RTS that features aliens…lots and lots of aliens. You control a small squad of soldiers and must complete certain objectives in order to pass from level to level (this usually involves a kill or be killed mentality). Before I get into that however, I’d like to thank Alex Vostrov (the game’s creator) for providing me with a free press copy.
One of the biggest things you’ll notice right away is the variety of game modes available from the start. The game offers a single player campaign which ramps up in difficulty appropriately, but it also allows the player to participate in custom skirmishes. The skirmish mode may seem a bit overwhelming to first time players, but folks who have played the game for a while will appreciate the ability to adjust all sorts of minute details. You can control the number of build points you start with, the kinds of mutations the aliens will have, and much more. Most skirmishes involve taking out all of the alien hives on the map, but other modes exist (like raids) that will help to mix things up a bit.
Build points? Hives? Okay, perhaps I got ahead of myself. In most cases, matches involve the player being thrown onto a randomly generated map with one base and five gunners available to them. Scattered around the map are hives, which spawn aliens of different types and must be taken out. In RTS (real-time strategy) fashion, you’ll move your troops around the map, build things, fight aliens, and attempt to clear the infestation. Troops can be upgraded to different classes like sniper, minigunner, and shotgunner, just to name a few. You can also use your troops to construct buildings that provide varying degrees of support and defense. Turrets and shield generators will help provide you with some defense, for example, while the helicopter support structure will allow you to call in airstrikes for offensive purposes. There’s even a reinforcement structure that speeds up the respawn time of dead troops, which is handy in situations where you’re tasked with holding a choke point.
Recruiting new or upgrading your troops and building structures all cost build points. Not to worry, you can sell structures or downgrade your troops to basic gunners to earn those build points back, allowing you to freely change a strategy that just isn’t working. You earn more build points by taking out a hive and establishing a base at that same location (the latter of which happens automatically). There are also purple canisters strategically placed around the map that will earn you some build points IF you can manage to haul them back to one of your bases. These aren’t to be confused with yellow canisters, which provide ammo to your troops so that they can activate special abilities or building specific actions (like airstrikes).
It sounds simple enough, but the difficulty can ramp up unexpectedly on a whim. Every time you destroy a hive and claim the base as your own, there’s a chance that the aliens will develop a mutation. Mutations are bad…very, very bad. They give the aliens new and powerful abilities that will change the way you come at them. One mutation, for example, might spawn a wave of powerful & armored aliens every so often. Others are more defensive in nature, rendering some of your classes useless. Part of the fun here is learning to adapt to these mutations and I admit, I derived a certain satisfaction after figuring out how to defeat some rather nasty mutation combos.
As I mentioned before, the game features a campaign that will be a great starting point for new players. Be warned, the campaign gets much harder towards the end, almost to the point of being borderline frustrating. Luckily, you can replay side missions and skirmishes on the campaign menu to earn yourself money, which can then be used to purchase both one-time and persistent upgrades. While the skirmish mode on the main menu unlocks all of the content right from the start, you’ll need to pay in-game money to unlock them in the campaign via a tech tree of sorts. There’s a lot of content here, whether you’re in the mood for a skirmish or the linear campaign missions.
I’ll keep this brief…”Infested Planet”, in my opinion, is a must-buy. It offers so much for its fifteen dollar price tag (as of 3/7/14). The skirmish mode and the customization options available gives the game almost unlimited replay value. I can safely say that it will keep strategists like myself busy for months, even years to come. Do yourself a favor and pick this little gem up…you won’t be sorry. I’ll go as far as to say that “Infested Planet” is probably my favorite game since “FTL”, which is saying a lot. Excellent, excellent game.
Final Verdict: 10/10
You can learn more about and purchase “Infested Planet” by visiting the following websites:
Editor’s Note: The below gameplay videos are based on the Beta and not representative of the final build. Some features, like the medic class, were removed altogether while others were added. I’ll release gameplay videos of the final version when I’m able. Gameplay Video #5 is the most recent of the bunch.