Mars: Chaos Menace Reviews

AuthorReview
Johnny Sinister
904,337 (401,256)
Johnny Sinister
TA Score for this game: 2,527
Posted on 03 May 19 at 18:00
This review has 2 positive votes and 0 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Mars: Chaos Menace is an overhead bullet hell shoot 'em up for the Xbox One. The game has an interesting premise and solid graphics. The gameplay itself is actually quite fun and the level, enemy and boss designs are done quite well for the genre. The difficulty is fairly tough (as expected for the genre) but has a reasonable learning curve for seasoned players.

However, given all this, the developers seemed to have found several ways to miss the mark on a potentially great game. These issues aren't gamebreakers per se, but it almost makes you wonder if the devs have actually played a decent shoot 'em up before.

The first issue is the scoring. The game offers a multiplier system (up to x5), but it is very simplistic and doesn't allow for strategic scoring. For example, on most score based shoot 'em up games with multipliers, you can strategically stagger kills to keep your multiplier alive and string it together for impressive scores. On this game, enemies are on set paths that don't stay on the screen very long, the multiplier is hardly affected by single kills, and there are unavoidable periods of brief breaks that will reset your progress. Also, all enemies (regardless of size or difficulty) give you the same amount of score (a base of 100 points to a max of 500 points with full multiplier).
This info may not mean much for gamers who haven't played the game yet, but it basically makes it so higher scores are hard to come by and even when you master a level, you will still end up with a relatively consistent and unimpressive score. This is particularly frustrating due to the fact that the game has a 100,000,000 score achievement that becomes a 50+ hour grind.

Another issue with the game is the shield. This may sound odd, but the shield is overpowered. Most shoot 'em up games that have a shield generally offer a trade-off when it comes to using them (for example: they can only be used for brief periods of a time; you can't shield and shoot at the same time; you're movement slows when shielded, etc). In this game however, there is all pros and no cons. Seems like a silly thing to complain about, but it makes the game feel broken. Regardless, it definitely feels like the devs didn't have a good grasp on the genre.
To elaborate, you hold the LT for the shield. While shielded, you can still auto-fire your primary weapon, use you laser attack, move at regular speed, pick up powerups and there is no penalty to score. It has a generous surface area and will stop essentially any projectile that comes at you (not enemies though). Once the shield takes too many hits it goes down. BUT GET THIS; for having your shield get destroyed (which is generally an indication you are getting hit too much), you get rewarded a bomb powerup. Yes, you read that right, the game rewards you for spamming your shield and getting hit a bunch of times. Oh, and in case you were worried, the shield will regenerate (with full health) after about 7-10 seconds after being destroyed. You can honestly rubber band the LT and make the game exponentially easier.

Next, there is the lack of content. The game has about 11 true stages and a handful of mini-game stages. The last few stages don't even have their own bosses, they just space out bosses from previous levels throughout the stages.

There is no New Game +, no alternate game modes, no online play, no leaderboard, no stats, no trackers. The achievements are mind numbingly generic and grindy.

Speaking of achievements, the score based ones only accumulate score from stages you beat. So if you lose, that score won't count for the achievement. (kills and games played do count though).

Overall, the game looks and feels good, but seemed to be designed by people unfamiliar with the shoot 'em genre. The game is fun in short doses and although it can be completed in a short amount of time (due to very limited amount of content), the game tries to artificially increase play time in the form of unreasonably grindy achievements.

2.5/5 stars for great potential at a reasonable price.
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