To coincide with the Mars rover landing on the red planet, Microsoft Game Studios have released a free Xbox Live Arcade title to commemorate NASA’s biggest achievement to date. Developed by Smoking Gun Interactive, Mars Rover Landing is a free Xbox Live Arcade title that utilizes the Kinect sensor technology.

The downloadable game is split into three parts. Firstly, players must navigate Curiosity (the space rover) through the atmosphere of Mars. This is done by the player moving the space rover to the centre of the on-screen circle by stepping in the correct direction.

Secondly, players perform the descent of Curiosity by moving their hands in the direction as indicated on the screen. This section of the game is all about timing as players will complete the section quicker if they are more accurate.

Finally, players are required to land the rover on the surface of Mars. This is achieved by gamers lifting their arms to control the fuel usage. Raising their arms too high causes Curiosity to stay still, while too low will cause a crash landing.

While the gameplay isn’t particularly innovative, it’s promising to see Kinect being used for something other than voice controls – a common inclusion in games that support the technology.

Each part of the Curiosity mission is rated out of five stars, based on the player’s performance. While there isn’t any in-game rewards for obtaining a maximum score, the game does provide achievements.

Mars Rover Landing offers a total of 50 GamerScore for successfully completing the game, landing Curiosity five times and earning a five-star rating for a perfect mission. Unlocking all of the achievements in the game doesn’t require much effort, which will go down a treat with achievement junkies.

Unfortunately, this is the title’s only game mode and will take players a matter of minutes to complete. While they may play Mars Rover Landing a few more times to round up the achievements, this is a game that doesn’t have much in the way of replayability, though there can be no complaints considering it’s a free download.

Graphically, Mars Rover Landing isn’t going to blow you away, though they are to a good standard for a downloadable title. Similarly, the audio isn’t particularly ground-breaking and will more than likely have players reaching for the mute button.

Mars Rover Landing may not be out of this world, in fact it’s nowhere near, but it’s something that will keep gamers occupied for a few minutes. It’s a great tribute of NASA’s achievements and, for the very cheap price of free, there’s no excuse not to download it.

David Wriglesworth

David Wriglesworth is a Northern lad with a passion for gaming, who graduated from the University of Lincoln with a BA (Hons) Journalism degree. If you can drag him away from the consoles, you can probably find him Tweeting or watching Coronation Street.

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