Mars: War Logs – game review
Mars: War Logs is a western action RPG set under the coat of Mars. The game opens up in a rather unique way by presenting the story or at least the setting on planet Mars via a NPC’s perspective as he is a prisoner of war and gets transported to a prison facility, while your own heroes entry is done in a mysterious way as he comes to the rescue of the NPC.
The initial moments of the game feel pretty much like “Prison Break”, as the two of them group up and start to devise a plan to escape the facility via hijacking the train. I really enjoyed how the mission structure felt a lot different than the usual RPG setups. Instead of asking you to mindlessly kill some rats, the game does put a meaningful objective behind it e.g. you sign-up for handling mole infestation problem, to gather some weapons left by previous team who had went in there to eliminate them. These weapons could be smuggled out and would be required to hijack the train which is the only escape vehicle from this prison set amidst thousand miles of desert. But pretty soon as you keep engaged in the game, you will find your lead hero: Roy dealing with typical power factions in typical RPG game’s political manner.
Gameplay consists of light exploration, combat (mostly melee), simple dialog branching, side quests and the usual RPG swiss army knife of features like crafting, upgrades, skill trees etc. The game impressed me with its fully developed game tech under the skin.
Combat wise the game is a full well-developed action game with quick jabs, power attack to break a block and block ability for yourself. Other than these you can equip 3 more items to your quick use keys via an easy radial dial. These can include abilities as well as items. Roy can master stealth, combat or techomancy (=cyberpunk magic), all of these come with RPG skill trees to upgrade and match up the challenge presented by the game. Items can include weapons, grenades, med kits etc. I did find that even on medium difficulty the game was pretty hard especially if lot of enemies are there, as every enemy is having the three basic moves like you, so they can not only block your attacks but also break your block, keeping you on your toes rather than allowing you to do mindless button mashing to win the fights.
Items and armor are all upgradeable and more impressively you will see these visually. e.g. if you have a pipe then you can add things like hand guard to it to add more defense, or make a leather grip on it for critical chances etc. and yes all of these would be visually shown too. Crafting is pretty simple requiring you to have enough raw material for upgrade you are going for, but it keeps things simple yet adding a bit of depth to the game.
The game is visually powered by Unreal Engine 3, and the graphics pretty much standard what your should expect from a reasonably good game, although you will never encounter any very highly detailed jaw dropping thing. Setting of Mars just give it a unique paint to set it apart from other fantasy RPGs. But it does limit the color palette to a Red-Brown tones only which one can get tired off through the reasonable length of the game. Enemies were a bit disappointing through as there are only a limited variety of them and you can quickly learn their weak points which must be exploited if you aim to live longer. Animations were another weak point as it all looks pretty hasty job of bone animation. Even the main characters walk is not natural and just gives a bad first impression of the otherwise well thought game.
The worst thing has to be the audio. The script is nice but dialogue writing and delivery are miles apart from creating an immersing or believable experience to which we have become accustomed to from games such as Mass Effect. During the course of this review we did get a patch which fixed many thing and still the voice acting and incoherent dialogues do remain bad. Plus there is a weird bug which cuts the voice before the full sentence is delivered but hopefully developers will fix that annoying bug in the future.
Overall Mars: War Logs did impress me more than the expectations I started playing it with. The game’s dialogues and voice acting maybe bad but it itsn’t something which would make the gamer frustrate or unable to play the game. The game does have potential to attract you back till you finish it. If only the developers had put some more work on polishing it after completion rather than releasing it, then the results would have been far more promising. By no means this game is meant to challenge the likes of Mass Effect, and yet it does stand on its own two feet with its well developed quests and combat system and charming RPG implementation.