First Impressions: Mars: War Logs

Word travels fast around the POW Camp

From one old game to another, here's another game that was released in 2013 that I haven't got around to completing and reviewing yet. I originally got Mars: War Logs thanks to a recommendation by a Whirlpool forum member who mentioned that the game was similar to a Mass Effect-lite. So when the game was on sale (and it's already pretty inexpensive full price) I decided to grab it and give it a shot. Unfortunately I only played it for about half an hour before being distracted by other games. Anyway, I've gone back and played the game for about 5 hours in total now and these are my thoughts so far:

What I like

  • Sci-fi RPG: Because besides Mass Effect there's not really that many RPGs of this sort that come to mind. As you know, I'm a big fan of Mass Effect so if there's a sci-fi game that's even close in terms of game mechanics, you've already got my interest.
  • Promising setting: Mars hasn't really been explored that often in RPGs. Sure there are several games based on Mars in different genres and there's of course the venerable Doom which is set on its moons, Deimos and Phobos. However, in recent history I only remember visiting Mars in Mass Effect 3 and that was only for a short period of time. This game comes with a whole big backstory of how the planet is embroiled in the Guild Wars (no not that Guild Wars) and portrays the time before the planet was settled as myth and legend.
  • Simple but fun game mechanics: It took a bit of getting used to the game mechanics but they work well once you've got the hang of it. Combat is very similar to Fable to some degree so there's going to be a lot of rolling/kiting around enemies but the combat system seems responsive and the crafting system is simple enough to even allow the least patient of us to give it a go.

What I dislike

  • Scriptwriting and voice acting: There are times in this game where the dialogue falls flat on its face. In fact, right at the beginning of the game you meet this guy called "Fatso" who seems to be having an argument with himself. I know what they're trying to do, they're trying to create suspense by having Roy (the player character) as the strong and silent type - able to intimidate people without even saying a word, but it just turns out as an awkward, almost comical situation as a result. There are also other times where characters lack emotion when they should.
  • Technomancy seems too fiddly and underpowered: I've only just started getting into the technomancy but the points I've invested so far seem useless. Technomancy "spells" take awhile to charge up and the first levels of these "spells" seem really underpowered compared to your melee skills - many that are already maxed out and far more effective at dealing with enemies. I'll probably regret not investing any points in technomancy later on but at the moment, they seem like a waste. It reminds me a bit of Bioshock Infinite and the case with the Vigors.
  • Dull scenery: Yes Mars is probably not meant to be a spectacularly lush and beautiful environment. It's just a big ball of red dust after all. However, too often do I see the same textures and graphics re-used over and over again. Or even the same character models. Some variety wouldn't hurt.
  • Uninspired level design: I've come to a point in the game where it seems that every map just consists of going from point A to point B and fighting the same type of mobs three or four times. I do think it's a bit overdone at times or maybe it's the fact you only get one follower in the game that has the same combat skills as you do? Basically, each battle follows the same formula so I'm hoping later on there's either alternate ways to solve problems (by avoiding combat altogether) or perhaps some new followers to join the party.


I like the setting and the fact the game is a sci-fi RPG so that should be enough to keep me going with Mars: War Logs, despite the dull scenery and uninspired level design. I just hope that the two latter aspects are improved as I progress further into the game, otherwise it's going to be difficult to maintain my interest.

[ LINK: Official Mars: War Logs website ]