Mars: War Logs, is a game that has been compared to many different AAA title games. Mass Effect and Fallout are two games that are constantly used to compare game play and story-telling methods. While the games’ style is reminiscent of Fallout, with weapons being made from pieces of scrap metal, I guess the only comparison with Mass Effect is how you choose conversation options, and the fact it’s in space, that’s it.
Mars: War Logs is a space cyberpunk RPG based on (if you couldn’t guess) Mars. A war has been raging after a catastrophe struck. Water is the most valuable resource on the red planet, and each side are currently at a stale mate. The story is from the point of Innocence, a young man thrown into the front line of the war, and as such has been forced to do and see terrible things, making him old beyond his years. He was captured along with other fighters by the opposing side, and the story starts off with him and a truck full of his former comrades in arms being transported to a PoW camp, once there they are ordered to take a “Sand Shower” and meet “The Fat Guy” – he sees Innocence and wants to make him his new bitch. Then enter Roy, or Temperance as he’s called by his comrades (but a name which he hates), the current quiet protagonist sporting some Heterochromia; a trait usually seen in Japanese RPG’s. This brings the start of your first fight and allows you to see the combat system. It’s very hit and miss, and feels like a bad copy of what’s on offer in Batman Asylum games. Most enemies can be taken down with repeated clicking, though some need a kick or some sand thrown into their eyes to finish them off.
Combat time in the game is sparse, but when you do get to fight, you can use different weapons, traps or projectile weapons to stun an enemy momentarily, you can also use counter attacks if you block at the right time. The combat is shallow, there isn’t any combo’s to pull off, most battles can be dealt with by spamming left click, some can only be defeated from striking from behind, others can’t be attacked whilst blocking, though saying this, the games combat system doesn’t spoil the story.
The story is very well told, and though the game is played through the point of Roy, the actual story is read through journal notes from the point of Innocence, following Roy’s plans whilst in the PoW camp. It works really well, and makes the story enjoyable. The conversation choices let you choose one of three ways: like an ass, a lovely person, or someone in-between, and with the story, the choices will at least give the game a few playthroughs to see all the possibilities.
Graphically the game looks and feels a little dated, character models stand out with the impressive amount of little details added to them, but lower textures on them can ruin some of the impressiveness. The actual world is a little basic, but then this is a PoW camp on Mars. The scarcity of the areas adds to the design of the game – if the camp was too busy and too full it would lose the impression of an empty prison, and how bad it truly is there. Although at the same time, there is only a small amount of other prisoners. It could be that the camp is massive, but for a war that has been going on for 10 years, you would expect the prison to be bustling with prisoners. When both of these problems come together, it loses a lot which makes the game in certain parts seem well designed, but in other areas feels unfinished. Another problem is with the animations of the models, dead stares at screen, eyelids clipping into eyes, and very stiff and unnatural walking or movement around the world.
For the asking price of £20, its nowhere near AAA title asking price, it’s clearly a indie title and the game feels like it too, which isn’t always a bad thing. The last game based in Mars I played was the Doom series, so playing on the red planet without it unleashing the bowels of hell was nice. I loved the new Batman games, the combat was fantastic, so it’s lovely to see an indie game attempting to try this combat system to, but it just doesn’t play as well. I found myself trying to pull off some of the Batman style moves in combat, or trying to play it like I did with Batman, causing me to get knocked over more times than I would like to admit. For the asking price it’s a great game, with some teething problems, but once you look past them you can get a genuinely fun RPG, with some depth and a story that is very unique.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.