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Game Review: Mars: War Logs
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Game Review: Mars: War Logs

Indie games are constantly criticized and compared to higher budget titles mercilessly. Mars: War Logs is the best example of this sort of scenario. It does an amazing job in demonstrating that it has the potential to do something great-even against titles with bigger budgets.
War Logs immerses players as Roy Temperance; a soldier who was captured and sent to a POW (prisoner of war) camp during the war between two large water companies on Mars known as Abundance and Aurora. Shortly after, another soldier known as Innocence arrives, having been captured and brutalized by his fellow inmates, Roy believes that it is the perfect opportunity to escape the joint.
The story is broken into three chapters. Chapter one is mainly for the sake of character establishment, while chapter two focuses on giving the history, the narrative and overall relationship between each and every character and how there isn’t truly a black or white, and it’s about how many things within Mars are done for personal gain. The final chapter fully exposes the problems between each side and makes players take a bigger role and decide what fate truly awaits Mars.

Throughout each chapters players will witness a glimpse of Roy’s character. He can either be morally good, or truly despicable. Morality does make a huge difference in terms of combat, but in terms of the mission itself, it only changes the mission to a point where you can avoid a fight here or there, or be able to intimidate a person enough for them to give up. It’s very similar to the system that was established in Mass Effect and Dragon Age, and in many ways it’s terrible because players never feel that their morality truly never justified the ending.
Sadly, this is very much the same concerning the overall character development as well. Many characters that players will meet throughout the game will be easily forgettable at times. Players will come across characters with different virtue names, each one having a certain different personality, but the fact at hand is that they never truly leave a mark, and they don’t play a bigger role than handing out a few missions. In addition, aside from Innocence and Roy along with a few different major characters that you will come across, each and every other character have terrible voice actors. Many of them have strange accents and at times, they sound quite unusual, to say the least. Sadly this can be stated about the character models as well- their design is a little bizarre. However, I must personally applaud for Innocence’s as well as Roy’s voice actor for for bringing their characters and, subsequently, the world around them, to life.
Missions as well seem bland at times, because most of them have you going from one area to the next, killing off someone, or threatening someone to stop doing something, or to gather materials.
The plus side is that none of these missions get overly repetitive, or dragged on as each and every area is significantly different and completing each quest is quick. In addition to that is that each quest does vary a little at times depending on how you want to handle it. One of the later quests involving a date rape drug had Roy go on a search for the rapist, in which he needed to find either an accused murderer or clues that proved who really was the suspect, but in reality, the accused could not have been the one if players had found out his alibi. Or they could do the opposite and check out both suspects and choose for themselves who the murderer is, regardless of the consequences.

 

Of course War Logs isn’t just talk; most of it is action, and very difficult action to say the least. Combat is hard because of how smart the enemy AI is and how dumb the AI embedded into your partner is. Furthermore, the combat is very difficult because of the skill tree and the overall leveling up system.
Once Roy levels up he can place his level up point into three different categories: Renegade, Combat and Technomancy, each one having passive and aggressive abilities. Renegade is mostly utilized to do stealth kills, or play dirty; while combat is used to attack head-on and utilizing hard hitting attacks and being able to stay alive at the same time. Technomancy on the other hand is magical powers that allow Roy to embed his weapon with electricity, or even have a shield that deflects some damage.
Each ability can be leveled up three times in order to access the next few abilities, and the player must have a rank for a category-ranking from amateur to master- in order to unlock some skills.
Sadly, the downside to all of this is the overall leveling up systems. Players will have to level up three times in order to fully take advantage of an ability, and even have to fully level up an ability to gain access to an ever cooler ability. For example, players will have to max out two abilities, which is six levels, in order to gain access to the stealth knockout ability within the Renegade. Even then, you can’t help wonder if it was worth all those level up points in order to gain that ability.
Furthermore, the combat itself seems to be swayed to one side. Renegade built players will have a hard time during the course of the game. Not only does it take a great deal of points to be able to access cooler abilities in the renegade skill list, but the combat itself doesn’t seem fit for stealth. For example, player can knock down one enemy silently, but then not be able to take down another enemy because each enemy is looking at every direction that you can come from. In the later levels, stealth is absolutely useless, because most of the battles are fought head-on; meaning that if you do not have upgrades in your combat category, players will have to rely on a great deal of items and other sort of tricks in order to progress.
In addition to that is the trouble with passive skills within the skill list. Having to upgrade an ability three times in order to fully take advantage of it is horrendous. For example, you’re going to have to upgrade critical hit three times from in order to go from having a 10 percent chance of critical hitting to 30 percent chance, and sadly, these differences don’t seem apparent whatsoever, and these too become useless in time.
On the other hand, aggressive abilities seem to dominate each battle. Shields can be created before battle, and enchanting your weapon gives an easy kill within the first few seconds of battle. Of course, that’s not the only way to win a battle; most if not all of your battles are won through items and customization. War Logs has a very simplistic, but at the same time very thought out crafting system. Players can customize each and every piece of gear that they come across, but only to the point in which they have enough material to customize their gear. Materials can be found anywhere or from looting enemy bodies. Materials can be crafted into a mole bone, that allows players to gain more attack and a greater chance to critical hit. While some upgrades allow for a chance to wound an enemy greatly and debilitate their fighting ability.
Armor can be upgraded as well, depending on how you want to play. Players can build armor that is resistant to Technomancy, while other players will build armor that give them an overall solid defense and overall health and fluid regeneration overtime. On a side note, players will be able to upgrade other abilities in addition to the skill tree list. For example, players will gain the option to level up their ability to gain more experience, or be able to loot bodies for more materials.
Graphics and the soundtrack are robust. Mars has an amazing atmosphere with a great deal of detail and a wide variety different places. While loading times aren’t too great, they’re well worth the wait; the game’s animation is fluid and spectacular. Of course this is complemented with the very upbeat soundtrack during combat and the overall futuristic feel to the game.
Mars: War Logs at first hand isn’t the best title to come out of the industry, but it’s certainly not the worst title to come out either. It definitely deserves great praise for not only being able to pull off an amazing and extensive combat system, but also for having an amazing soundtrack, graphics and a story that wasn’t nearly as bad as it may seem. Furthermore, there is something about War Logs that makes players come back to it constantly, and that is the different ways that it can be played. You can either be playing as a evil individual who is able to cripple every enemy within a battle, or play as a saint, gaining each and every merchant discount and being able to gain a partner that won’t die in a single minute.
The title receives a 4/5 for making a tremendous title that focuses on extensive combat, providing a story that makes players feel as if they are truly the character and for providing graphics that are on par with many high budget titles. Of course, the downsides are that the character development is somewhat useless, but they do not make the game so unbearable that it is unplayable, it makes the player think of what items to craft before battle, what abilities to choose for the next level up, what to craft, and overall, to just plan out their battles before tackling them head-on.
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Game Review: Mars: War Logs, 4.5 out of 5 based on 2 ratings

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Reviewed by Zeeshan Sajid on May 21, 2013

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