I liked infested planet. I bought the game on a bit of a whim when it was on sale, and it had been sitting in my gift inventory. All I really knew about it was that you ordered people around and they shot aliens. Which sounds like a hell of a lot of fun, really.
And it is.
The basic premise of the levels is that you start with a single capture point, and you must destroy the alien hives which sit atop their own capture points, until you control the map. With each point you capture you get more resources (called Build Points) and the alien army 'mutates' and creates an additional complication that you must overcome.
The game plays at a great pace. It's always tense, and yet, when you take a step back, the gameplay actually evolves slowly. You'll often find yourself wondering if you really need to drop a turret to cover an alien attack, or if you could just spare a single marine and spend the resources for the turret elsewhere, and all the while the lines of battle are being pushed and pulled. It's a great feeling.
And those choices. Those options! There are so many different things you can do. There are three main 'classes' of upgrades you can spend points on: weapons for your soldiers, localised power buildings like turrets or healing crates, or global upgrades that can do all manner of things from giving your soldiers grenades to having reinforcements dropped in by helicopter mid-fight. The best thing of all? They're practically all valid courses of play. Everything feels balanced and nice.
I mean look; there's a building that summons robotic clones of your soldiers when they die that fight on for a while. This means that yes: suicide missions are possible. And sometimes they are even optimum. If you -need- to capture that next point before the next attack wave comes in, and you don't have enough points for something to siege with, then an all out infantry rush might just do the trick.
Then there's the opponent. The alien swarm controlled by the AI. Here's another thing that's been done really well. While I was playing I got the distinct impression that behind the alien swarm was another player. Or at least another thing playing its own game. It had different rules to me, but it had to abide by them nonetheless. Each mutation the aliens choose have a profound impact on your play and options. You might be happily shotgunning the swarm one moment, but with the next capture suddenly the alien has consolidated its power into pseudo-human guardians, and you need to swap out your cheep shotguns for expensive sniper rifles. At higher difficulties the AI even counter-picks you. For example, if you invest in a lot of personnel upgrades, the aliens will send clones of them. I hope you know how to deal with the very same minigunners that you had waltzing right back towards your bunkers!
The game doesn't look the prettiest, and the sounds are okay, but what it does well is the gameplay, and it does that amazingly.
So now we have to ask. Do I think this is worth 15$? For myself? Surely. For anyone on the fence, I can say with certainty that it is worth your time and your money.