After a long and stressful day at work you just want to get home and forget about the day’s events. But you can’t escape it. News crews are gathered outside, media outlets are reporting on the failings where you were at the helm. The investment you put in means no amount of money you have left can rectify the problem and try again. All you can do is face the cameras and utter two words: “New Game”.
OK so it’s not that dramatic. Nor is there a news crew outside your house when you fail. But it’s a pretty sorrowful feeling when you see the rover you sent to Mars crashed because you miscalculated the weight of the rover and the parachute couldn’t slow it down.
Welcome to Take On: Mars. Developed by Bohemia Interactive Studios (Makers of Arma and DayZ). Take On: Mars, from now referred to as TOM, is the second installment in BIS’ Take On series which aims to give a more sim oriented focus while still retaining the fun elements.
TOM began as a mod made by a developer at BIS and in turn became its own game. Using actual terrain data from NASA, Martin Melicharek recreated the Victoria and Gale craters, a few rovers that could explore them and TOM has gone on from there, right up to including multiplayer manned missions.
Over the course of its development, TOM has seen a considerable improvement in many areas. With new terrains to explore that are not just limited to Mars, the addition of multiplayer modes, one of which is a survival mode where you and friends land as part of a manned mission to Mars and must work together to survive, grow food and expand your colony and explore surface of the Red planet. (No word on copulation ,mind)
Singleplayer wise there are an abundance of scenarios for you to hop in and play. From simple missions where you drive a rover to drill some rocks and gather data on the atmosphere, to landing on the Martian moon Deimos.
For those looking for something a bit more lengthy, there’s also a career mode called Space Program. You start off small and work your way up by completing tasks which in turn, earn you cash allowing you to build your own landers and rovers. Pray they don’t crash however because you won’t get the money back that you spent on them. In a interesting little detail I found in the game features real Mars time. Meaning if it’s night time there, it’s night time in game which restricts you going very far. The real time option will require you to actually wait for time to pass before the Sun rises over Mars once more.
(As of writing) The developers plan on adding basic scripting commands to the game to give to your rover. Meaning you could send orders to your rover to “Move, 400 Meters, West”. Go off to work and let real time pass, come home and you might find your rover has driven off the edge of a cliff or a probe snapped off after hitting a rock when it didn’t retract in after use. Depending on your taste, that either sounds cruel, or it’s your geeky, proverbial cup of tea.
When you do log in to see if your rover has indeed driven off a cliff you’ll always be pleased by the visuals of the terrain, environment and model texture quality. The terrain of Mars looks stunning, even if it is a reddish brown. The ground texture is pleasing to look at, which is nice as you’ll be looking at it quite a bit. There’s also a background haze that adds to the atmosphere of being on an alien planet. Different cameras in the 1st person view have varying degrees of quality, also giving you another sense of being on a alien planet and which adds the thrill of exploring. For those who have trouble driving, there is a 3rd person view.
As far as suggesting if you should buy this, it really boils down to if this is your cup of tea (Forgive me, I’m drinking a lot of tea today). If you enjoy Kerbal Space Program, but wanted something more serious and less goofy, this could be your thing. So far the devs have shown a good interest in the game with the additions and improvements made to TOM, which is refreshing to see with an early access game.
As of writing, it’s in Early Access on Steam with release pencilled in July 2015. If you feel you can spare E13.99, or can wait for a sale to pick it up cheaper then you shouldn’t hesitate to pick this up. (No word on full release price)
Take On: Mars is a great little niche game to have in your collection.