Review: Mars: War Logs (PS3)

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Title: Mars: War Logs
Format: PlayStation Network Download (1.5 GB)
Release Date: August 13, 2013
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Developer: Spiders Studio
Original MSRP: $14.99
ESRB Rating: M
Mars: War Logs is also available on Xbox 360 and PC.
The PlayStation Network version was used for this review.

Oh my.

Gameplay:
Our story begins with a young man traveling in a cattle car. His voice-over explains that he is a prisoner of war on Mars. He was drafted into the military against his will. He thought he’d get to spend his life chillin’ with his friends but that didn’t work out. He says that he can no longer tell night from day which I suppose is an existential observation because I could tell it was day from the sun light constantly moving through the high opening in the train car.

This sequence is the first part of a long and awkward in-engine cinematic culminating in our lead character Roy stopping the kid’s prison rape by Fatso by standing still and not speaking. If that sentence is awkward it’s only about ten percent as awkward as watching it unfold. As a matter of fact using the verb “unfold” is more action than this. The scene rather lays there until it stops. In this way it is an achievement in story-telling akin to watching cement dry and praying a bird will fly-over and drop a load on it just for interest. But without the bird. It never comes.

I include a gameplay video now for the purposes of refuting it. This video is edited together with computer graphic footage not from the game and with some actual gameplay elements. The actual gameplay elements are edited in such a way as to make the action appear fluid. Actual gameplay in Mars: War Logs consists of some moments of uninterrupted action during the very first fight tutorial. Subsequent to that tutorial the Mass Effect-like RPG-like menu pops-up with no warning and completely unbidden. It stops the flow of the action. As a matter of fact I switched controllers because I thought my controller was broken. At several points the menu popped-up after the fight was over and kept me from even leaving the area. Let’s go to the tape!

After a while you get a nail gun to take into some mines for killing some giant mutant moles. Although you had been joined in pseudo RPG-like fashion by the rape-kid Innocence, yes that’s his name, he has departed until after work so you are joined now by two other frightened mostly-NPC characters whom you can only control marginally by setting their battle priorities somewhat. Believe me, I know that’s a terrible sentence but to write it better wouldn’t do the clunky gameplay justice.

The nail gun has limited ammo and doesn’t do much damage and can’t be aimed. You can’t aim it. And it’s something I have never seen before, a context-only weapon. The player can only fire it if they choose to do so under certain circumstances. You will run out of ammo long before you run out of moles. Of course you can use your cracked tube weapon but getting that close spells disaster because rolling away is glitchy and doesn’t work very well. The technical term I devised for this situation is: Big Stupid Mess.

Marswarlogsmenu

There is a lot more game than I will go into detail about here apart from mentioning that the big bad villain is a scary guy with terrible powers! His name is Sean. Apparently the French are terrified of the Irish.

Visuals:
The game looks like a gnarly Flash game. The syncing of the voice acting with the mouths of the characters is bad. The map is a disaster in that it shows a few things you don’t need and only sometimes shows your destination. I wandered for 45 minutes looking for the recruitment center which gave me lots of extra time to see how bad this game really is. So they didn’t do themselves any favors.

Audio:
I am surprised that Spiders and FHI are making so much of the score. They are touting it as an achievement as they give it away for free! I didn’t notice the music at all. The voice acting ranges from acceptable to atrocious. Apart from that the sound doesn’t warrant comment.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single player only.

Conclusion:
The most irritating thing about Mars: War Logs is its potential. You can see there’s a good idea under all the D grade level computer science failure. There’s nothing wrong with a mash-up either, which is what I suspect they were trying to do here. They’ve just done it terribly inexpertly from writing to execution. The only good thing I have to say about it is that somewhere there is some really awesome artwork because the artists who worked on the graphics prior to putting them in the game did a great job.

Score:
4.5

Written by Keith Dunn-Fernández

Keith Dunn-Fernández

An actor/director and more lucratively an Administrative Assistant at a small paper company in NYC, Keith loves his games. And he loves to write. And he is a bit of a sarcasmo.

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