REVIEW: Planet Wars

While the premise as stated has you leading a band of mercenaries on a hostile alien world, fulfilling the less-than-scrupulous orders of Earth’s military all in the name of cash, Planet Wars (80 MSP) is really the 2D side-scrolling shooter equivalent of Starship Troopers, without Casper Van Dien and a bevy of terrible to middling sequels as baggage.

With that campy but amusing (and don’t forget the Fascism!) pedigree to whet your curiosity, right about now you’d be guessing you’re going to be shooting some form of bug (four kinds, to be exact), facing down waves and waves of enemies that never seem to have an end… and you’d be entirely correct, with some RPG-style and Tower Defense elements to compliment the action. The game supports up to four players locally, with resources and specialty skills (air raids that hit randomly, health / ammo refills— both on timers) pooled within the group.

Planet Wars - Screen

The campaign in Planet Wars consists of ten stages. Nicely done comic book-inspired cutscenes give you some pre-mission banter and fuel your reasons for being there, with liberal doses of government secrecy, betrayal, and terraforming (to explain the game’s desert, forest, and snowy environments). Levels are straightforward; either side-scrolling once you’ve defeated a screen’s worth of bugs / nests, or pausing to take on a Horde-like mob, with preset turrets and walls. In some instances (and in the game’s Survival mode), you’ll have the chance to place the defenses yourself.

Much as in real life, cash is king in Planet Wars, and having a good amount on hand opens the door to self-improvement, upping the potency of the previously-mentioned bombing runs, or to buy (terribly inept) AI squadmates. Weapons (assault rifles, shotguns, flamethrowers, etc.) and armor are also for sale. Purchasing attachments for your firearm will increase (or decrease— pay attention) the gun’s worth at a particular skill, granting you bonuses like a higher fire rate or more ammo (<— absolutely essential). It can even boost player stats, adding to your overall health or offering more mobility. While preference always needs to be accounted for, you can generally never go wrong with a harder, better, faster, stronger soldier. Especially here.

Planet Wars - Screen2

About the only fault I can find with the game is its sometimes uneven difficulty in single-player. It makes sense that you would be continually upgrading your skill set and weapons between each mission (tip: replay the TD stages to earn quick cash), though the game seems to scale as if you’re playing in a party of two or more players, hitting you with heavier and more diverse waves that will put a stop to your progress if you’re not rocking the latest equipment and upgrades. And don’t even try to boost the enemy count or strength bars to earn more experience solo; doing so is a death sentence. Even with the best armor (top stats and causing an electric shock on contact) and outfitted gun (in my opinion) in the game, I had to plan my moves carefully in each mission. Others’ mileage and loadouts will vary, but it’s worth noting.

Push those difficulty concerns to the edge of your mind, though, and you’ll find that Planet Wars goes above and beyond the call of duty, with plenty of options and room to grow. Add even one friend to the mix, and you can disavow that critique altogether. So go ahead, load up, throw caution to the wind, and vault over that wall; these bugs ain’t gonna squash themselves. Hooah!

23 thoughts on “REVIEW: Planet Wars”

    1. Well worth the dollar. Oh, and who needs a minigun? See ‘Saansilt’ ‘s reply below me. Fire is fun. Fire is your friend. 🙂

  1. This was great on iphone. Seeing it on xbox is cool, might buy it for the co op.
    What gun do you use?
    I go flamthrower, fire is fun.

    1. Ah, didn’t know it was on iOS previously. I’m not sure of the name of the gun I was using, one of the higher-end assault rifles, with attachments that beefed up my fire rate and damage. Had the best armor, though. Flamethrower looked enticing, though in my experience, they always seem to suffer from a lack of heavy damage, so you’re more or less just slowing down enemies, not killing them. Maybe it’s more of an option in Planet Wars.

    2. The thrower kills good, but you have to focus on range and ammo. Not much range boosts for it, so make it count. I also use tech armor, as it boosts everything. But yeah, it was on iOS first. The dev went free with an ad in the beggining in iOS with micros. Shame but at least more people play it.
      The railgun makes the game too easy though, so avoid it unless you want to cheese the game.

    3. Should’ve went with the flamethrower. The railgun might’ve helped me out more, too, at least if I bumped up the enemy health / numbers, to earn more coin.

      I suppose I could see this game on a tablet, even with the microtransactions. Devs have to get the game into as many potential hands as possible.

    4. The micros are one time buys like credit doubler, +10000 credits, and the unlock everything boost. Really not too bad, dev just needed more downloads since not many were downloading at first.

    5. That’s not bad. Doesn’t lock away the main game or any huge component, so the micros work entirely as extras if you so desire. Hopefully it gets more exposure on XBLIG, though, honestly, if you can’t find an audience for ‘free’ on iOS, XBLIG is notoriously hard to make a dent in…. especially without zombies or partial nudity to back you up.

  2. Enjoyed the demo just haven’t bought the game yet. Thinking I will be doing so soon. Nice review as always.

  3. Sounds like it could be fun. I’d written this off as uninteresting, so I didn’t even try it. Lessons of marketing your indie game #17: choose a title and description that make people want to play it.

    1. True story: I was going to dedicate part of a paragraph to the bland name and give alternate suggestions, though I couldn’t think of anything interesting (my best was ‘Bugs vs. Mercs’ — late night to blame). I could see the game getting repetitive solo, but with a friend, it’d undoubtedly play swimmingly.

      @David: Thank you, sir, as always.

    2. OK…after long and hard thinking about this I came up with a “catchy” name possibility.

      Startrip Poopers 😛

    1. The developer gave you a free copy to give away?!
      So, you’re telling me that if I became a video game reviewer, people would just GIVE OUT free video games?

      Man, I wished horror movies worked like that.

    2. I’m telling you, man, it may not be all that glamorous of a gig, but if you’re ever hard up for a post idea (or tire of Crash Course 2), XBLIG Reviewer is where it’s at. 🙂

      I believe Devs get 50 codes for each game they publish, and if you offer to review the game, 99.9% of the time they will gladly hand over the keys to shiny new code for you to test drive the game with. Doesn’t matter if your site is dedicated to games or not, exposure in any form is good for the game.

    3. Just have my face back by curfew, and its all yours. My identity you can keep; I owe back taxes (last time I listen to financial advice from Wesley Snipes).

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