Back in February I previewed the early access version of Infested Planet. I was intrigued by the game and its focus on using limitations to expand traditional RTS mechanics. Now that the game is coming out of Early Access, it is time to give the game a proper review.
Infested Planet is an interesting game, because it is built upon a capture-the-base mentality. There is no desire to harvest or build up your gold or munitions. The goal is to push forward and kill the surrounding enemy as fast as you can while preserving the colonies you have reclaimed from them. This angle works well through the many levels because of the options the developers have presented.
The main story mode works as a tutorial to give you many different game options while allowing you to build your troops as you see fit. It also acclimates you to the mechanics fairly well. While the game only has one real goal, achieving it efficiently can be difficult at times and takes the proper planning and strategy to work effectively. You can build up a large number of troops or modify the troops you have to become stronger. The game’s currency to upgrade however is limited and solely reliant on the bases you capture. Again, since there is no harvesting, this means you have to actively defend your territory and upgrade your troops while relying on a set number to do so. With only a handful of troops to fend off a horde, it works very well.
Balancing the currency is not difficult because you have many options to do so. The troops can be upgraded from low riflemen to specialty troops like snipers and flamethrowers. Each class offers their own specialty against enemies and there isn’t anything offered that doesn’t serve its purpose in a helpful way. The time in early access really smoothed the game out and it’s good to see such attention to balance that doesn’t ever really overwhelm the player.
The game offers plenty of research upgrades to assist you with helicopter support, medical support or other troop support while the different buildings offers up a number of ways to defend your property while you are off capturing the next bug infested base. Buildings like mortar, turrets and mines use a bit of strategy to build an effective bit of protection against the horde. The one thing you do have to look out for is the occasional giant word balloons that can block off a majority of the screen in the middle of the game. It looks schnazzy, but when I’m trying to conquer my next base, I’d like to see what I’m attacking.
The game is split up between 3 different battle modes. Story mode is there to keep you comfortable while the game’s skirmish and weekly challenges are set to test your capabilities. In fact, the 28 levels of story mode feel like they are preparations to challenge the rest of the world online in the weekly challenges. The more effective you are in capturing colonies, the better your online rank, so story mode really pushes to expand that out by making you more comfortable with the different troop commands.
Infested Planet works off of a strong sense of balance which is what serves it well. Enemy AI doesn’t roll over as soon as you claim over 50% of the map. The bugs upgrade and get more aggressive. The building challenge works in the game’s favor and as you march forward, they push back.
I have to say I was pretty impressed with Infested Planet. The time in early access provided them with the ability to tune the game into a polished form. The game isn’t a narrative powerhouse, but it works purely on gameplay and does try to mix up the missions and levels to provide some diversity across the 28 levels in the game.
The concept of attaching an online ranking system is not a replacement for a multiplayer mode, but offers a competitive for players that want to challenge somebody else with their RTS. Infested Planet does a lot of things well and should be on the radar of RTS players that enjoy playing with the strategy of the game more than duking it out against others.
[+Online Rankings] [+Well Balanced] [+Solid Strategy Game] [-Annoying Pop Ups]