Mars: War Logs Reviews

AuthorReview
TheSecondLetter
104,560 (64,188)
TheSecondLetter
TA Score for this game: 270
Posted on 13 August 13 at 12:15, Edited on 13 August 13 at 12:16
This review has 24 positive votes and 18 negative votes. Please log in to vote.


Mars: War Logs is a limited, watered-down and derivative.

I had high hopes for Mars: War Logs given the current state of RPGs on Xbox 360. Mars: War Logs attempts to emulate the best parts of many of its AAA predecessors. Unfortunately, the end result is a stripped down version of the Mass Effects and Dragon Ages it's trying to copy. It's not a bad game, just glaringly average. With that in mind, let's talk about how different types of gamers may react to the Mars: War Logs experience.

The Action Junkie - Combat uses a hybrid system mixing real-time action and the tactics wheel that Mass Effect made popular on consoles. There are several skills you can use in battle, but the action is grossly repetitive.

The Bookworm - Bookworms need not apply. There is a story here and it is endearing at times. However, the characters are flat and lifeless and the story is rushed. If you need an excellent story with great characters to enjoy an RPG, this is not your game.

The Explorer - I believe explorers will be disappointed. MWL is an utterly a linear game with sidequests (read: errands) peppered in. You basically traverse 3 different towns in the game's 3 chapters. You'll spend a lot of time running around with your map on just to make sure you're going the right way.

The Strategist - Battles can be difficult and intense even on easy difficulty. The problem here is that they're repetitive and what makes them difficult - when they are difficult - is simply the number of combatants on-screen. You use the same 3 sets of attacks Technomancy - Standard Attacks - Guard Breaks. Once you use all three in a battle, you've seen every battle you'll ever have in the game.

The Audiophile & Visualist - Mars: War Logs looks dated and the soundtrack is less than memorable. If you look for great visuals and sound in your games, this isn't the one for you.

Builder – The minor saving grace of this errand running simulator is its crafting and leveling system. Running errands for NPCs as well as completing main storyline missions, will grant you access to skill points and components you can use to customize Roy's abilities and the weapons and armor he rocks. The crafting and leveling systems are decent, but not really enough to make a player forgive this game for being tedious and derivative.

Verdict: I really wanted to like Mars: War Logs. If I'm being completely honest, I never would have finished the game if I weren't reviewing it. It tries hard to give the player something new, based on what older, better games have accomplished. Unfortunately, in the end, it's just a derivative game that doesn't do enough to make it worth playing.
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venomthanosfan
109,571 (61,136)
venomthanosfan
TA Score for this game: 1,109
Posted on 02 May 18 at 04:44
This review has 6 positive votes and 2 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
As one would generally expect from its title, Mars War Logs is an action-adventure RPG of political intrigue set on Mars. To be as objective as possible, the game definitely possesses a decent deal of faults/oversights, but in spite of that - as is the case for all of the games developed by Spiders that I've played/finished - I'd also call it at least mildly/generally underrated, more than anything else due to the depiction of its very gritty and in so many ways too predictive of what society could become in early humanity's colonization of any foreign environment's landscape.

Beyond watching the initial cutscene narrated by the game's second most prominent/important character Innocence, (more on the reason for a name of that style in a moment) the player is thrust into the role of Roy, a both literal and figurative "renegade" present in a very dark and uncompromising world of a relatively recently colonized Mars. As is a staple of most if not all Spiders' games, there are an eclectic array of moral choices to make which can definitively shape the moral alignment of Roy's character - one can play as a true virtuous/heroic protagonist, sparing everyone where it's possible that gets defeated by Roy in combat, or one can play as an anti-hero at best, literally "finishing off" every foe that Roy confronts with a serum extraction syringe. Though there are benefits to playing as virtuous, in many ways the game does encourage pragmatism on the player's part especially on higher difficulties, as serum is a universally and wholly practical resource within the game, used as both currency and for crafting purposes within the game's interface.

In addition to moral choices/the specific moral alignment of Roy's person, the plot was generally interesting and enjoyable, though it's true it was relatively slow to pick up "steam" (reasons for the pun if one plays through at least chapter one of the game). Thematically the game also lives up to its namesake, as in addition to being set on Mars, chapters are divided by literal chapters of a diary initially kept/written by Innocence, and later in the possession of Roy who further adds to its contents as the game progresses.

In addition to the very few plot/universe depiction elements of what I've referenced without genuinely spoiling anything, the most unique piece of lore present in the game's universe is the presence of virtue names. All citizens that belong to a specific "guild" of government, (I can't say much more about that element without spoiling much of the game to be objective unfortunately) are issued a "virtue name", or as one might be able to infer, a name which literally is a positive emotion or concept of positive moral alignment, this being why Innocence's name is defined as such, and Roy's former name - preceding the point that he renamed himself as he didn't like to be cast into any specific role - was Temperance.

As opposed to both of "Mars'" successors, the weakest element of plot involves the game's peripheral characters. There are overtly fewer, and although I didn't actually choose those options myself, depending on a player's choices one might be only allotted one potential companion by the end of the game. Companions also don't have companion specific side quests, excepting "romance" options of a few characters which do grant experience, though the romance scenes themselves border on being jokes to be as objective as possible about that idea. Despite all the criticisms I've said about this point though, there were at least one or two characters I grew attached to/genuinely interested in beyond Roy's character, though it's true his was definitely the best defined/most interesting without any doubt.

As is the most important part of any game's attributes by my personal standards, this is the moment I will discuss the game's combat. As they all use the same engine, based off the other games I've played developed by Spiders, most core gameplay elements are retained, most notably the presence of very prominent slo-mo whenever one achieves a parry or critical hit, which is my personal favorite element of combat present in every real-time game developed by Spiders. With that said however, there were a couple very distinct gameplay elements unique to "Mars" as opposed to both of its successors "Bound By Flame" and "The Technomancer". As opposed to both the two other games aforementioned, the game features only one combat stance, which makes combat generally more practical and enjoyable as far as I'm concerned - while the ambition involving multiple stances might be commendable, applying this idea to an RPG is not exactly foolproof, as it's very difficult to completely balance all stances in terms of both general appeal and effectiveness in my personal view.

Despite the praise I just issued, some elements of combat often seem almost completely broken at times. What is arguably the biggest oversight of the game is the number of enemies one is forced to battle at times, especially as on occasion the player is without any companion, or otherwise they'll have just one, whose effectiveness ranges from not effective at all to mediocre at best. On a few occasions I was forced to fight at least seven enemies at once most notably - while I did address the game possessing a parry system which is at least moderately effective to be objective, it's nowhere near as unambiguously useful as a game such as Shadow of Mordor where the player is very easily able to manage several enemies at once. Frequently in War Logs, if one is swarmed with a large amount of enemies - most specifically moles as they attack the fastest in the game, and are nearly always in large packs - one can keep getting hit to the point it's impossible to perform any other action to combat anything. To look on the bright side here however, succeeding getting past a difficult fight - especially on higher difficulties which are truly no joke - I found a sense of accomplishment that I seldom have found in other games, though whether this experience will apply to everyone considering purchasing/playing this game I'm at least relatively skeptical about, as some might find this attribute just plain frustrating and/or patience trying.

The other most unique attribute about gameplay present in War Logs is the unlocking of the technomancy skill tree, which unlocks succeeding the end of chapter 1. Realistically all players will have leveled up to at least level 8 by that point in the game, or otherwise will have had at least 16 skill points to use already by that point, so if someone would like to specialize in the technomancy powers that its successor is both known and named for, this really isn't practical on higher difficulties as saving one's points will heavily handicap them preceding the unlocking of the tree in the game. If one doesn't have an issue with having either something they might prefer to utilize be unavailable to them until a decent deal later in the game though, or otherwise does wish to specialize in technomancy and doesn't mind a handicap, objectively this is a relatively trivial point to criticize or even generally point out.

Although auditory traits are peripheral to a lot of people, I thoroughly enjoy high quality audio in most of the games I play, which is why that's usually a focus of mine in reviews I write. The greatest highlight as far as the game's audio goes is without a doubt its soundtrack. I really didn't know if such a comparison would be merited for several reasons, but the closest parallel to the depiction/function of the game's soundtrack is the game Syphon Filter's as far as I go. Specifically most locales have ambient themes when one is simply scavenging/wandering, though while actively in combat tempos rapidly increase and generally become more synth heavy, suiting the game thematically as far as its sci-fi setting goes. The quality of the ambient themes ranged a bit to me, though none of them were worse than mediocre for sure, and most of the combat themes were generally very well composed and really made me enjoy combat, even at moments where I wasn't performing exceptionally well being fully honest.

Again to be as objective as possible, voice acting was not as much a feat as the soundtrack, but as far as major characters went most of them had generally above average actors. My greatest praise most definitely has to go to Roy's actor Ken Starcevic as opposed to all others though, as whether a true hero or pragmatist anti-hero he fulfills the role whenever he must thematically, so I most definitely enjoyed every bit of his acting :-). The only other actor I feel the need to single out/address by name is Kaycie Chase. Not only is she an actress present in the game, she actually voices two unique major characters, both of which have very distinct vocal styles and characterization, so I was thoroughly surprised when I learned they shared the same actress, as I'm sure most will be when they experience her acting should they choose to play War Logs.

Graphics are usually the least important attribute within games for me, though as that's a majorly important point to some gamers I'm aware, I suppose I'm obliged to address them. As this is a moderate at the best budget past gen game those points should definitely be taken into consideration - even acknowledging those facts though, the graphical quality of the game at least overall I found to be generally mediocre. Admittedly, as I don't have that much attention to details when it comes to visual depictions, I really wasn't sure what more I would need to say here, though to be as direct as possible anyone who expects graphics on par with modern big budget games should almost certainly watch clips of the game played or play its trial before purchasing.

As I established within my opening paragraph, War Logs is not a flawless game, however if one doesn't mind a general challenge, - obviously/especially on higher difficulties - and is a general fan of innovative sci-fi universes they likely will enjoy this game should they give it a try, especially for its standardized price and the presence of its free trial. I don't think that much needs to be made explicit, though those who played and enjoyed either of Spiders' higher profile games should also almost certainly play War Logs, as it's the predecessor to both in terms of gameplay and borders on being a prequel to The Technomancer. Assuming you do play the game due to my recommendation, enjoy the sands of Mars!
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Danny Dubs 86
1,017,310 (543,125)
Danny Dubs 86
TA Score for this game: 1,109
Posted on 20 April 14 at 16:50
This review has 10 positive votes and 14 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Originally posted on my blog at http://takeaimandgame.blogspot.com/

I'm always looking for a great new RPGs. Immersing myself in an expansive world and seeing an epic story unfold or building my character(s) with the skills and equipment I find useful are some of the highlights of modern gaming.

Mars: War Logs is not one of those games.

While some aspects of the game make strong first impressions, evoking memories of Knights of the Old Republic with its aesthetic and basic controls, the whole thing rapidly deteriorates into a long sequence of tedious fetch quests, a frustrating real-time combat system, and a generally forgettable storyline that lacks momentum.

War Logs opens with a young soldier called Innocence describing the situation (a war on Mars) while he's taken to a POW camp. Immediately after exiting the prisoner train, a large prisoner threatens Innocence with rape.

This scenario is just the first of many scenes throughout the game that seem to have been written by a 12-year-old trying to be "edgy;" it seems totally out of place given the nature of the situation (a war prisoner is going to rape a kid from the same side of the conflict right out of the gate?) and the view of the world that we get elsewhere (after this initial confrontation, the camp as a whole seems surprisingly friendly and inviting).

And that's essentially the whole game: a vaguely oppressed group of prisoners deals with their situation and the occasional bout of unnecessary adult content.

To make matters worse, the story is divided into three acts, but they are only loosely related. The major issues introduced during each segment are hastily resolved during brief cutscenes, so you get a few disjointed storylines rather than the coherent narrative as you might expect from an RPG.

Overall, the story in Mars: War Logs lacks the depth and the polish to be anything more than a passing interest.

The gameplay sadly doesn't pick up the slack; there's just nothing really inspiring about it.

While the quests throughout the game aren't too unusual for a modern RPG, the lackluster story fails to mask the tedious elements. Nearly every quest reduces to "go here, fight them, get this," and its hard to overlook the repetitive structure.

Combat doesn't add much enjoyment, either. To be fair, there are a few nice technical features: battles are handled in real-time, playing almost like a third-person action game, and they're usually pretty intense, as 3+ enemies will all come at you simultaneously.

The problem with fighting lies in some of the details. First off, the introductory tutorials present strategies that are irrelevant during your first major encounter (and many encounters throughout the game). The ability to break an opponents guard seems totally ineffective against certain types of enemies, so rather than engaging them as the game teaches you, it forces you to develop new strategies almost immediately. That's just frustrating design.

Second, the level design forces you into combat more often than not. Ordinarily that setup wouldn't be a huge deal, but the game places some emphasis on being able to sneak around; I was almost never able to avoid fights, and the skills directly associated with sneakiness were impossible to use in most of the plot-oriented fight sequences.

As a result of the poor combat design, you're kind of pigeonholed into following a couple of paths through the game's skill trees. It looks like there are some interesting options to explore, but it's really a false choice - if you don't prep yourself for straight combat, you can very easily find yourself stuck in a near-unwinnable fight.

The gameplay is frustrating at almost every turn.

Sadly, the disappointment doesn't stop there. While the voice acting and overall sound design are generally pretty good (though never particularly outstanding), the art direction is uninspired. Yes, the whole thing takes place on Mars, so the dusty red setting is expected, but the fact that nearly every area is a rundown slum gets tiring, as there's no aesthetic incentive to explore.

Achievement hunters may have some struggles on account of the combat system. Most of the achievements are reasonably straightforward, but completing the game on the hardest difficulty setting will challenge your ability to deal with the game's unfair battles and your patience. It's not a huge ordeal, but it is rather frustrating.

The end result is a game that's just not very entertaining. It has some nice ideas, and the overall vibe evokes some nostalgia, but it rapidly becomes a tedious exercise.

If you're looking for an enthralling story with fun mechanics, you should look somewhere else.

My Rating: 2/10 - terrible.

(For more info on my rating system, including overall stats, see http://takeaimandgame.blogspot.com/p/reviews.html)
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