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GDC09: Stalin vs. Martians hands-on

Justin McElroy

Does it even matter what we have to say about Stalin vs. Martians? Whether we like it or hate it, the base facts will still be the same: You're a force of Russians battling it out against evil aliens. It's already headed towards Game of the Year, and all we can do is get out of the way. In fact, it's billed half-jokingly as the "Game of the Year Edition."

It's a silly idea, but there's a real game underneath it all. As publisher Paradox Interactive notes, it's an "action RTS," which, in practice, is somewhere between an RTS and a shooter, pitting waves of colorful aliens against your bright green tanks.

Gallery: Stalin vs. Martians | 8 Photos

The Martians will keep throwing forces at you as continue your majestic march to their bases in the hopes of wiping them off the face of Mother Russia. It's hyper-colorful and hyper-frenetic, with bonuses and money being added to your coffers faster than you can even read the notification. Oh, you can also utilize a 30-foot-tall Stalin to save the day.

One of the other great little touches: During load screens you're asked to test your "amazing powers of observation" by finding the differences between two black and white pictures of Russian armies.

To match the insanity of the gameplay and visuals, the whole thing is underscored by some really tragic Russian guitar pop. Awesome.

It should be clear by now, but if you've shied away from RTS games in the past for being too dry, this may be the one that ropes you in. It's funny and mindless fun, and we're told that when it launches on several PC downloadable platforms in April, it won't be more than $20.

There will be more polished and richer games this year. Lots of them. But we'll be stunned if one pushes the envelope of sanity further than Stalin vs. Martians.

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