After eight long years the fight is thankfully back on Mars and developer Volition's Geo- Mod engine takes a giant leap forward. Originally released for the Ps2 in 2001, A new miner takes on the fight to finally bring a lasting peace to the red planet and end the planet's global tyranny from the EDF (Earth Defense Force).
Volition hones their skills acquired in making Saints Row and Saints Row 2 and builds a huge sandbox environment. Much of the mission based mechanics play a lot like Pandemic Studios original Xbox Mercenaries title. (Not that crappy sequel that EA published, blech!) You choose a vehicle and mission, complete it and then run back to your safehouse to get your warning level down. What really separates this title from the pack is the newly designed Geo-Mod 2.0 engine that allows you to literally blow up almost anything you can see. After seizing an installation, you then collect scrap which can be exchanged for weapon and armor upgrades. The weapons are diverse and interesting enough to keep any hardcore shooter happy, however the vehicles are another story. Driving on Mars is pretty standard no matter what vehicle you are using. You will frequently get that odd physics bounce that sends your truck flying uncontrollably, much like the driving in Mass Effect. Most noticeable and extremely disappointing was the lack of any air power units. The whole time I am being chased by the EDf Vetrtibirds I was thinking, "When do I get to fly that?" After finishing the game the sad answer was, "You don't." Maybe Downloadable Content (DLC) can remedy this exclusion. On the plus side, you do get super armored exoskeletons with rockets, (think Lost Planet) so all is not completely lost.
Multiplayer is really what this game has going for it. Not only can you destroy buildings and throw mine charges, it features a variety of special ability back packs that really add to the replay value. With 10 different ones to choose from you can do everything from creating earthquakes to spying in x-ray vision. It's obvious this where the developers spent a majority of their resources.
A very cool orchestral score lends itself to the vast martian plains and dusty conditions. What is noticeably lacking though is the radio. You do a heck of a lot of driving in this game so a variety of stations to choose from would have been ideal. Give me a Radio Free Red Planet station!
Mars has never been better represented. It looks and feels like a planet that has torn apart from their civil war. Flaming wreckage litters the towering totalitarian strongholds and monuments. Dust storms obscure your vision and creates a hazy sunny glaze. With 6 sections to liberate, and no load times in-between, the planet begs for you to drive through it and explore .
The value here is all in the multiplayer. While you can go back and complete missions after the main campaign is finished, the single player still gets repetitive very quickly. No more hostage release or vehicle transport missions, please!
I do feel like I am being a bit harsh on this title, but only because they have laid a solid foundation for what could have been a must have game. I sincerely hope that the team will put some time into expanding the title with fresh DLC as that could really help sway the public into getting more out of their entertainment dollar.