There’s certainly no shortage of role-playing games on the Xbox 360. Series such as Diablo, Dragon Age, Fable, Fallout, Mass Effect and The Elder Scrolls continue to dominate one of the most popular genres in gaming and will most likely continue to do so well into the next generation.
Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean there isn’t room for another RPG, as Spiders (best known for games such as Of Orcs and Men and The Testament of Sherlock Holmes) has released Mars: War Logs on the Xbox Live Arcade.
Set on Mars, a century after a great upheaval, players take on the role of Roy Temperance, an escaped prisoner of war who finds himself in yet another prison. Roy takes young boy Innocence under his wing as the fate of all the colonies of Mars now lies in his hands.
Similarly to other RPG titles, Mars: Water Logs features a levelling system. Players earn experience (or XP for short) for completing both main quests and side quests, as well as for killing enemies.
There are two types of upgrades: character and skills. Character upgrades are self-explanatory, with upgrades such as increased experience from defeating enemies, discounts at merchants and an increased chance of obtaining loot from enemies on offer.
The skills upgrades are split into three categories: combat, technology and renegade. Each category has branches of different skills, with the benefits of the upgrades getting progressively better as players make their way up each branch. The system is a great idea that has been well implemented and is the stand out feature of Mars: War Logs.
The “War Logs” part of the game’s name comes from a diary that Innocence keeps. As Roy advances through the quests, players can read the logs in the start menu. Whereas many gamers will overlook this feature, the logs provide further insight into the story and will come of great interest for those who want to delve further into the plot.
Initially, the game’s plot sounds promising. However, it’s not long before Mars: War Logs’ repetitive nature kicks in. The majority of the game’s quests simply consist of walking from one person to the next, asking them a couple of questions and moving onto the following one. This involves a lot of backtracking and covering the same areas – a tedious aspect of the title.
A small number of the quests involve combat with enemies. Whereas they provide a welcome change to the game, the combat is particularly clunky. There’s no depth to attacks and players will find themselves repeatedly pressing the X and Y buttons in order to overcome enemies. To make combat worse, the AI aren’t particularly useful. Roy’s companions are killed off very quickly during fights, leaving players to fend for themselves.
Not only is the game quite tedious to play, but it’s also very dull to look at. The brown theme throughout Mars: War Logs isn’t very appealing and there are multiple points in the title where the texturing is noticeably poor. Furthermore, the weak voice acting is another problem in the game. Mars: War Logs is dominated by dialogue and the unconvincing speech means players will more than likely skip their way through the scenes.
Overall, Mars: War Logs is somewhat disappointing. While there are some great ideas embedded into the game, their execution is poor and it really shows in the final product.
Additionally, the lack of any other game modes and the very little incentive to repeat the story mode (with the exception of achievements) means the game’s replayability factor is almost non-existent.
Mars: War Logs is one to avoid, especially with the busy Christmas season approaching.