Mars: War Logs is an emotionally gripping game from the start. You really get a good feel for who the characters around you are and what they are going through. The world that this game takes place in is a war-ridden one.
The main character Roy has refused his virtue name “Temperance”. Apparently on certain regions of Mars everybody was given strange names meant to give them a purpose in life? You eventually find out that’s not all he’s turned his back on in this crazy world. He also has some ties to the Technomancer movement which will be revealed very early in the game as an advanced pseudo-scientific set of modern-day magicians bent on ruling as superior human beings. They practice something called ‘Technomancy’ which is basically a new age mix of magic, technology, and necromancy. This is a strange, futuristic society (a living and breathing hell for some) on Mars in which lives drug addicts, felons who have given up on living a straight life, and even mutants who are treated like discarded garbage much like lepers in the dark ages when the plague was raging over humanity.
The first thing you’ll do is escape from a prisoner of war camp run by a really creepy Technomancer, the first you’ll meet in the game, and it won’t be easy. This seems a bit drawn out and is a slow introduction to the game, but if you stick with it this experience does a great job of building up the story-line. It could have been faster and more action-packed, but at least you’ll have some time to get used to the sometimes frustrating controls the game presents and as stated it does build the story-line well.
Everybody’s got problems on Mars, similar to the Fallout games you’ll have the ability to just service yourself by any means necessary. You’ll also have the ability to help everybody out and along the way achieve a more complete experience by doing so. Maybe this guy is depressed and the solution to his problems ends up helping you in your escape, maybe another is rising up to rebel and that could be the perfect diversion. It’s all there as side-quests become main quests and coincidences become fate, but to avoid spoilers let’s leave that to the imagination for now.
On Mars water is so rare it’s called Serum, collected in little vials, and even used as the main form of currency. You will eventually get your hands on an item called a Serum Extractor Syringe. With this item players suck the last bit of hydration from a downed enemy causing them to completely die and your reputation to become slightly more evil. It’s pretty difficult to see why you’re being judged for this in a kill or be killed world, the Serum is also useful for creating health kit injectors that recharge your life quickly over time while you’re mid-battle.
Crafting is a very important part of the game. You’ll upgrade your armor, create items such as ammunition and health injections, and even handmade grenades through the extensive crafting system in the game. If you don’t use it then you probably won’t be able to survive the hordes of enemies that are sometimes thrown at you and your allies.
You’ll be able to upgrade skills as you progress through the game which change the way gameplay occurs. For example being able to run while using health injection packs doesn’t happen right off the bat, but it’s something you can unlock. Other more advanced skill upgrades include increased health, decreased damage by electricity (from technomancer weapons), and more unique skills like parry enhancements and sand-throw enhancements. Once you get technomancy weapons of your own you’ll also gain a whole new third skill-tree for upgrading that. There are also Combat Feats that you are able to unlock such as the Snooper passive ability that allows you more loot from dead enemies. You’ll have to keep track of a using a lot of different points, collecting / crafting items, and navigating menus in this game which unfortunately takes away from the experience at times.
In terms of gameplay difficulty, Mars: War Logs is not one of those games you can just run through effortlessly using your overall experience in video games. Players will be challenged to actually learn the battle system, master it, and stick to it. There is a serious need to block, use distraction moves, break the blocks of enemies, and then switch back to damaging attacks. Simply button-mashing over and over with no strategic approach will get you a ton of Game Over screens and not much else.
At times the main character’s voice acting can sound a little monotonous and strange, similar to the Deus Ex character who seems disassociated with the things he’s actually saying as if they have no emotional meaning to him. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and might be exactly what the developers were going for, it just means your character seems alienated from everybody else due to coming across as a psychologically abnormal person. Although the game’s level design presents a sandbox-like experience in some ways, it is pretty linear for the most part in terms of story-line and objectives.
You won’t be able to just walk up to any person and attack them, you’ll only be able to lock on and do damage to targets your character identifies as hostile or enemies. You will get lost a lot of times in this game and have no idea where you are supposed to go, as the map is confusing. There’s a really cool feature called the War Logs which basically keep track of all the moves you’ve acquired and how to perform them as well as keep a diary of the events that are taking place in the game.
The depth of choosing your own response in mission dialogues varies. At first it seems like there’s no actual difference in the results to whatever is chosen during the dialogue conversations, but as you get further in the game this improves a lot. Roy will have a reputation level throughout the game but this is mainly decided on by actions not words. The choice to avoid violent resolutions to the common problems humanity faces on Mars is in Roy’s hands, and frankly could end up being the only thing that separates him from the many sides trying to kill him at every turn. You’ll want to keep your companion allies alive in battle, but their artificial intelligence is pretty good and they only get knocked out temporarily until you defeat all of the enemies, so this is never a major problem. What is a problem though is how complex the game’s menus and control setup becomes.
There are so many different items and ways to use them that you will be quickly inundated with difficulty in just playing the game as it will take some time to get in the groove of assigning the items you want to use to the buttons that will correspond with them mid-battle. Once you’ve got things straight and defeat the initial gameplay hours though, the intensity of Mars: War Logs plot twists should propel you through the rest of the game with ease.
Final Verdict: Mars: War Logs takes a while to get going, and you won’t always be in love with it, but once it does get into its groove you’ll be glad you stuck around for the ride. This game gives an incredibly deep and intriguing story-line with gameplay mechanics that start off on a slightly frustrating learning curve but quickly become fun and rapidly responsive. You can’t just mash buttons and get through this title, which is definitely a good thing. You have to use your brain and you’ll be rewarded greatly. The graphics are slightly above average and the soundtrack fits perfectly. Overall I give Mars: War Logs an 8.75 out of 10, making it a Silver Game.
Overall Score: 8.75/10
RGN Rating: Silver Game
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Available On: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows PC
Played On: PlayStation 3
Review Copy Info- A digital copy of the game was provided to RealGamerNewz by the publisher for the purpose of this review.