Mars: War Logs aims for the stars with high ambitions, but ends up just missing its target.  A budget title from Focus Home Interactive and Spiders, Mars: War Logs is an effort to give you a AAA experience in the same vein as Mass Effect or The Witcher 2 but the end result is a game that is hard to take seriously.  There are plenty of redeeming qualities to Mars: War Logs that makes the game well worth its twenty dollar price tag, but with big issues in the story telling and voice acting, Mars: War Logs doesn’t quite deliver the quality experience that makes a great game.


Mars: War Logs, not so surprisingly, begins its story on the planet Mars during a war.  Subtlety, you will find, is not one of Mars: War Logs strong suits.  The story, in the beginning, follows a young soldier by the name of Innocence, and he is the only character in this entire game that lives up to his name.  Moments after Innocence is delivered to a POW camp, he is welcomed by fellow members of his own army as they attempt to rape him in the sand showers.  Innocence’s, umm, “innocence” is saved by another prisoner, who stares down the would-be rapist and takes Innocence under his protection.  This savior is named Roy, and he is the character that you end up playing for the ten hour or so journey through Mars: War Logs.

The “Logs” suggested in the game’s title, comes from Innocence as the narrator, telling of his time in the POW camp with Roy and their attempts at escape.  The story for Mars: War Logs is the weakest part of the entire game. It never feels polished enough or interesting enough to take it to the next level.  Fortunately, there are some shining moments during the game’s story that allows you to see Spiders true potential and just how great this game could have been. Ultimately, the story just doesn’t take you where you hope it would go.

Character personalities are tied to closely to their names, either characters are the complete opposite of their namesake or, like Innocence, are exactly as their names would indicate.  That is, until you are introduced to the villain of Mars: War Logs: A technomancer that goes by the name of Sean.  That’s right, Sean.  The developers went through all of this trouble creating meaningful names for half of the cast, then we get the major villain, a guy who shoots lighting out of his hands, named Sean.


Game Play:

Mars: War Logs does deliver on a nice, tight system of game play that can be challenging during combat situations.  Combat is done in real time, in a similar fashion to combat in Mass Effect.  Controls are solid, even with the mouse and keyboard, and they have to be.  The enemies you will face in Mars: War Logs are out to eat your face, and Roy is not Marcus Fenix in terms of toughness.  Combat requires hit and run tactics to survive, and that is completed by using the roll button, a lot. Rolling out of the way of an enemy’s attack, then hitting them with your weapon is a vital tactic that you have to learn right away in order to survive.

The rest of the game systems for Mars: War Logs do a good job in what they are supposed to do.  There is a character screen, complete with a skill wheel, ability tree, and inventory.  The skill wheel is very similar to other role playing games on the market, with three trees to choose from and each skill can be taken multiple times.  Mars: War Logs also adds a separate ability system that you can buy into using points gained from leveling up, these help your character to better fit your play style.  Inventory is very basic, you have armor and weapons that you can equip.  You can also pick up materials as you play through the game.  These materials are used to upgrade your items in the inventory screen.  It is nice not having to head back to a work table to do this, and each upgrade will give you bonuses to certain stats.  Upgrades are not permanent, as long as you have the materials, you can change the item.  This helps when you are entering a fight that requires a bonus to a certain stat, but don’t want to permanently get rid of the upgrade you currently have.  Just change the item for that fight, then change it back as long as you have the materials to do so.

Spiders does a good job in delivering solid game play for Mars: War Logs.  While it does nothing to bring any innovation to the experience of playing a Western RPG, it does what it needs to do.  It’s unfortunate that the story doesn’t live up to the game play to at least make the experience of Mars: War Logs something more than just “okay”.


The visual aesthetics of Mars: War Logs are just like the game play: Solid without being exceptional.  The world looks just like you would expect it to; red, dirty, lots of makeshift materials, and desolate.  It has a very lived-in feel, so the player will get the feel that these colonies have been here for a very long time.  If I have one gripe about the visual aesthetics of Mars: War Logs is that it is a little bit too generic.  That is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make Mars: War Logs blend in more with the crowd.


Mars: War Logs audio does help the game stand out more than its competitors, but in a much more negative light.  The voice acting is bad… Real bad.  It is bad to the point of distraction and it definitely takes away from the game experience.  Voice acting, when done right, makes players care more about the characters in the story and gives players a reason to care for what happens to them.  Mars: War Logs already has a weak story line that players won’t care about, so having bad voice acting just makes that issue much more glaring.

Final Thoughts:

Mars: War Logs is a game that could have been very good, even great, with the right budget.  Spiders and Focus Home Interactive tried to give you an experience that can be compared to Mass Effect but with a price tag of twenty dollars.  Now, a higher budget does not necessarily mean that a game will be better.  I have played plenty of low budget games that are much better then the higher budget, AAA titles. But, in the case of Mars: War Logs, I think a larger budget would have allowed the developers more resources to get a better writer and better voice actors.  With these types of games, if the player isn’t invested in the characters or story, then the overall game experience will fall flat.  The reason players had such a big issue with the Mass Effect 3’s ending is because it didn’t feel right with the natural progression of the characters story lines.  Ultimately, Mars:  War Logs is a “okay” game for its price point that could have been much greater if I actually cared about the characters or what happens to them during the game’s storyline.

[easyreview title=”Mars: War Logs Review Score” cat1title=”Overall Score (out of 5)” cat1detail=”” cat1rating=”3″ ] Our Rating Scores Explained

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John "Judgeman" Dugan is a long time contributor and Gaming Shogun's resident fighting game expert. Judgeman has appeared on G4's Arena, including season 1's Tournament of Champions, and was a regular in the early days of Street Fighter 2 tournaments.