Mars: War Logs is an indie game with a big budget feel.
I’ve been excited about Mars:War Logs since it was first announced. However, it took awhile for the title to make it to Xbox 360 and PS3. As I wanted to review the console version, I waited. I’m glad I did. Not only did this RPG live up to my expectations, but it also exceeded them in some ways.
Let’s start with the most important thing: the story. As an RPG, Mars: War Logs hits all the right notes. It begins with the narration of a young soldier, Innocence, who is telling his story. Eventually, we meet the character we play, Roy, as the soldier is transported to a POW camp. Roy is tough, jaded and has secrets, but still finds it in his heart to save the boy from meeting a terrible end (think prison rape – yes, this is a mature game with mature themes). As Roy, you take Innocence under your wing and begin your first main mission: to escape the prison.
The story then teaches us the game’s setting on Mars. It’s a dark place with a lot of political nuances. The writing gives just the right amount of depth to paint the picture of Mars’ background and history. My only complaint is that the story isn’t even longer, but the game does come in at around 10-14 hours (which is longer than BioShock Infinite.) Roy’s own personal history is compelling, too, especially when we learn that he is more than what he seems to be.
Like most good RPG’s these days, Mars: War Logs allows you to make choices that will affect the outcome of the game – from dialogue that might make you a jerk to choosing not to kill enemies after combat to major decisions that are difficult to make. The ending reflects those choices at Roy narrates the final scene. There is even a romance option, although it’s short and never touched upon again after the first move is made. That, too, was a slight disappointment, but definitely not a deal-breaker.
Gameplay can get tedious at times, as you do have to do a lot of running around for many of the side quests. However, those quests always felt necessary to do, and I didn’t skip any that were offered to me. The maps are slightly limited and most places on Mars do look exactly the same. But I found that more realistic, than boring.
The game really excels with its combat system – although you don’t have a variety of weapons, there is still variety in how you use them, specifically if you prefer stealth and/or technomancy (a cyberpunk-like magic). Fights are never boring and are often challenging. Creating skill sets within the game also offers up some variety and allows the player to choose what to focus on when fighting.
My only complaint about skill sets is that they are only limited to Roy. Although you do have other characters in your party at most times, those characters don’t have their own set of skills and aren’t as customizable. And generally, they die at the beginning of each fight.
The game’s graphics are probably not up to par with the latest and greatest of big budget games, but they are good enough to compare to older titles, such as Fallout 3. The scenery of Mars isn’t entirely awe-inspiring and the game is washed in reds and grays, but it fits the environment and darker elements of the story well. I did notice that some of the NPC’s tend to have the same faces and bodies, as often happens with smaller-budget titles. It, however, does not distract from gameplay.
The game’s sound is also good. There’s some great music that sets up scenes. The voice acting was fantastic, especially considering this is an indie title. Roy, in particular, has the perfect voice for the character you play in the game, but even the NPC’s were voiced well.
Should you buy Mars: War Logs? I would say yes! Not only is it a deal at just $19.99, but it also has a very big budget and ambitious feel to it. This is not just a standard indie game. It’s an indie game that wanted to play in the big leagues. And although it’s not quite there yet, I think fans of titles by companies like Bioware and Bethesda will enjoy it.