Earth Vs. Mars
Posted 29 March 2010 - 07:06 PM
'Is there life on Mars?', so questioned the great David Bowie. Well, apparently, there is, according to Neskosmesko's Earth vs. Mars - and it's not too pleased with people.
The game's story is a vaguely War of the Worlds-style scenario, with the third rock and the Red Planet at war. As the commander of the Earth's forces, your goal is simple: blow the Martians off the planet and protect yours.
As an RTS, the game focuses primarily on building an army using things you can gather, sort of like space Wombles, and using them to fight against the enemy. It's a bit less complicated than many games of its genre. The only two resources in the game are energy and crystal. The quickest way to get these is to deploy small, unarmed ships which can slowly fly to a resource and transport it to your planet. These can be used to build ways of protecting the planet by improving HP or shielding the planet, and can of course be used to build ships. Also available are attack ships, which come in two flavours, the small and weak Seeker and the large, armoured battleship. Seekers fly straight at the enemy while battleships take a curved course through space and, if they reach Mars without colliding with something lethal on the way, launch an attack on the planet or shield and vanish. Finally, there are missiles which can plough through smaller ships and take a good piece of HP off the enemy's planet or shield.
'Look down there! It's Beagle 2!'
Despite the variety of ships, actual combat is pretty simple. Ships don't target each other and all combat craft follow the same attack method, which is to fly toward the enemy's planet and attack any ship they encounter. The only strategy to the combat is deploying ships which can fight the specific enemies they might run into on their route to Mars. Of course, to do that, you need resources, and much of the game centres on trying to figure out whether it would be better to build a fleet of ships and attack, build a small group and fight off the enemies just above the atmosphere or put the shields up and guard. It's also necessary to factor in the flight paths of each ship if you plan to intercept an enemy craft or get one your own ships through an enemy fleet.
The battle is presented on a simple and easy to use map, with each planet on one side of the screen. The HP of each is given at the top of the screen with the controls at the bottom. The only slight problem with the graphics is that the ships aren't that different from each other, with all of a planet's ships being the same colour, which can be a problem if you're trying to quickly deploy something to protect the planet from Martian attack. A voiceover offers a sort of commentary on the game, informing you when something is deployed.
All controls are performed with the mouse. In fact, there's little player action to speak of: all you need to do is choose what to build and the AI pilots the ships for you. As a result, the strategy is less about tactical attacks with groups of ships than deploying things at the correct second. The entire game is played from a group of buttons in one corner of the screen, which if nothing else ensures the action isn't covered by buttons. The good thing is that despite the lack of direct gameplay, you're in command of your forces.
Where's the Doctor when you need him?
For all its good features, the game does have a few problems. There's little information on each unit type and you'll need a few attempts to figure out what can fly through what. The gameplay can be difficult and, as mentioned above, the lack of variety of sprites can make it difficult in situations involving many ships. The backstory is also difficult to read or decipher and could have done with a quick proofreading or spellcheck.
As an example of a difficult genre rarely attempted in Game Maker and less often succeeded at, Earth vs. Mars is a well-designed game which shows effort. The few flaws are made up for by the overall quality and it's easily one of the better games of the genre to be made with Game Maker.
Posted 29 March 2010 - 10:32 PM
Posted 30 March 2010 - 11:56 AM
The review was very informative... extremely informative, actually. So that's good. But I would have enjoyed reading more about your own personal opinion too.
Posted 01 April 2010 - 10:24 AM
Posted 11 April 2010 - 12:34 PM
Posted 02 October 2010 - 02:33 PM
I might download it and have a crack, looks interesting, review was great.
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