It’s been just over a year since the landing of the Mars rover on the far red planet, and a moment that will go down in history, one that I got to watch personally, and finally we have a Mars landing simulator. So you can now finally explore Mars yourself, in Take on Mars, you can pretend you’re actually sitting at Nasa, view the descent from different camera angles, and take on different missions to slowly add extra parts to your rover.
This is another game released through stems Early access system, allowing gamers to pay a reduced price to get the game early but unfinished, though get the chance to give feedback to the developers to help them make the game a lot better in the end. So it should be said that right now there are a lot of features missing from Take on Mars, most notably a complete lack of Tutorials, outside of explaining some key mechanics of the game. So it was a bit difficult to learn the controls and how things worked, it look a lot longer than it should off to get back to base after finishing a mission.
There are bugs, there are random crashes and the performance here is not what you would expect at all, but if you can look past all that you will find one hell of an immersive video game, set on a frontier that is rarely every seen anymore.
So let’s get to the main event, Take on Mars, what’s it all about, the simple way is you send some robots, dig around a bit and make money to send bigger robots over there to dig bigger holes, or apparently use lasers on some rocks.
But from the start you have to make a big choice, which is if you want to play in real or game time, real time, time will go ahead when you’re not playing the game, meaning that if where your landing at that time on Mars is currently night time, you will have to be prepared to use your Lights on the rover to search around. In game time you can fast forward an hour and the time in game doesn’t progress when you’re not playing it. For those who are trying to get a super realistic experience here, Real time is a fun mode, whilst I’ve been playing the game this is the mode I was in, and it adds a little more depth into the game. Landing on the planet at night, with just stars and the small view of light in front of me is a little surreal.
With that, the graphics fairly great looking, but you won’t get full view with the camera effects on, show here, which are fantastic, and seriously look the part. Little filters, effects and sounds work fantastic. Camera shake and breakup when landing, high resolution landscapes, everything has been thought of here, and its only early access. Of course with this comes a very big problem, optimisation is not the best right now, with the game mostly using only one core and never fully utilising a graphics cards potential. Though this is an early access so I am sure that when the game is fully released there will be fixes for these problems.
But right now thankfully the game has plenty of missions to get stuck into, the first mission you get is pretty simple, you take a sample of the Martian atmosphere, and take a few pictures, that’s it nothing too hard. Down the line though you will be driving your own custom built rover across the land scape, testing soil samples, rock samples, and taking many pictures of the Martian landscapes. There is a lot of difficulty here though, you have to be mindful of every rock or dip you see when driving the rover, one wrong move could easily break off a part of the rover or cause it to get stuck 35Million~ miles away. This can be made more difficult as well if you opt in for the Solar panel array on the rover, suddenly you have two very large disks on top, and manoeuvring becomes very difficult.
Of course you could make your rover smaller, you don’t have to use the solar panels, making it smaller (as small as a rover can be that is by cutting down the solar panels and robotic arms can make it easier to get around.
Of course there is a plus and downside to each additional part, solar panels allows your rover to keep its charge for longer when it’s in the sun, but it is expensive and bulky. I think the building section will be worked on, there isn’t much customisation here apart from spending extra money on higher quality parts, these just seem to withstand more damage and take readings quicker though.
All in all Take on Mars is shaping up to be a great Sim, it is a little rusty right now but hopefully the developers take on board the feedback being given to them by the players and on full release everything will be fixed.
Title: Take On Mars
Availability: Steam Early Access
Price: 9,99 EUR/ 12,99 USD/ 8,99 GBP/ 27,99 BRL/ 419 RUB
Developer: Bohemia Interactive
Platform: PC (digital only)
Genre: Exploration sim
Social channels: TakeOnTheGame