RPGWatch Feature: Mars War Logs - Review
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May 19th, 2013, 02:29
Finished my first playthrough after 20 hours, and all I can say that this is a very competent and well thought rpg with strong emphasis on choices and consequences.
The game has been updated many times now fixing minor bugs (nothing was game breaking), and added keyboard and FOV customisation through external files.
The game is very atmospheric with very good main quest and side quests that fit the setting. Choices and consequences are made directly through dialogue and implicitly through actions (for example, killing downed enemies or letting them live which influences your reputation; choosing a specific companion, letting someone live or die .. etc.). Therefore I was not able to play all quests/side quests because of the choices that I made in the game. Reputation also decide the responses and actions of npcs and can lead to different dialogs/paths in the game. The effect of choices and consquences permeate through each area and subseqent areas, through comments from npcs and companions and through outcomes and leading paths in the game.
There are three areas: POW camp, shadow lair and Green Hope. The map of each area is large and separated into smaller areas that you can traverse any way you like.
The crafting system is excellent and well balanced. There are variety of items to combine/transform to equip your suit and arms depending on your play style (warrior, renegade, technomancer or a combination). You can recycle components or transform them to produce needed components. There are merchants in the game that you can buy armour, weapons and components from. I choose to kill my enemies after knocking them to get their serum (game currency) and had a 'bad' reputation at the expense of large amounts of serum that I can use to craft health and fluid injections (for my technomancy). Others who choose the 'good' or 'hero' side will have less serum and therefore would need mechants so that they can sell them loot to gain serum. Hence the game is well designed and balanced for the different choices by the player.
The graphics are excellent from my point of view using their Silk engine. Environment and backdrops are very fitting to the story and location. There were some recycled assets but again it fits with the environment and atmosphere and felt natural. Some npcs looked the same but so they were in the Witcher and it did not bother me.
Combat is excellent and well done. No button mashing, very responsive and strategic in that you have to use your combat tools (e.g. throwing dirt in enemy faces to blind them temporarly; use ranged weapons from afar; charge weapons; technomancy shields; grenades; explosive traps; sneaking and stealth; good use of companions for distraction, changing direction and dodging .. etc.). There are also variety of enemies with different abilities that you have to adapt to.
Story is very good. Characters are all interesting. Virtue names add elegance to characters (in the same way come cultures use profession names as a family name and in history when referring to characters by their strong traits or achievements). Voice overs are good and Roy (protagonist) is excellent and he is well fleshed out in the game.
Story telling varies from weak to very good, and that, in my view is the only weakness in this game. The story is there and so are the characters, but they need to be fleshed out more. There are many strong and dramatic stories for the npcs and they need to be highlighted stronger - they deserve that.
A unique gem of a game that easily deserves a solid 8/10 in my book. A very thoughtful and detailed rpg, and its price does not really do justice to its quality or content.
If I want to compare this to a well known rpg, then it would be the Witcher with much better combat.
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