Mars: War Logs was developed by Spiders Studios and published by Focus Home Interactive. It was released July 26, 2013 for 1,200 MSP. A copy was provided for review purposes.
Mars: War Logs is a sci-fi/action RPG that is unmistakably, unabashedly cut from the same basic template used for Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire, and Mass Effect. The main character is a war veteran with a dark, mysterious, or troubled past. He or she travels with a few companions who provide assistance, special abilities, additional information, and so on. The villain is either an oppressive fascist regime or someone who harbors deep personal resentment for the hero. Throughout the journey, the party is faced with moral dilemmas as they seek to resolve primary tasks and sub-quests, with decision options usually broken down into a binary GOOD or EVIL choice and little in-between. There is an equipment upgrade system, where the player uses spare materials to enhance weapons and armor. The party gains experience points to level up, and skill points can be applied to unlock advanced abilities, feats, and class perks. There are romance options available, depending on the hero’s gender, demeanor, and rapport with his or her companions. This game format is very familiar to anyone who has played any high-profile console RPGs in the past ten years, and even more so for those running the original Baldur’s Gate on PC in the late 1990′s.
So let’s just get this out of the way, rather than meandering around it: if someone is interested in playing a sci-fi/action/open-ended WRPG, they have a ton of options available from half a dozen extremely prolific developers, some of whom started the genre. Many of those options are incredible adventures, spanning entire galaxies, with memorable characters, brilliant dialogue, breathtaking landscapes, and a few of them have dramatically pushed the genre forward in big ways. The market is immensely crowded, and Mars: War Logs is placed in a very tough spot because of that. Priced between $15 and $20, it is clearly aimed to be a mid-priced alternative to mega-funded RPGs from the likes of BioWare and Obsidian, and wants to be a Mass Effect that doesn’t cost $60 at launch. But the size of the budget and price of the game are but small parts of a much larger picture, so how does Mars: War Logs measure up?
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