Bohemia Interactive has a really difficult relationship with Early Access titles. Despite being a very concrete team, capable of creating solid and complex titles such as Arma, has shown that it does not have strong product management skills over the long haul.
DayZ players have been waiting since December 2013 to have the title they paid for, but in the meantime the updates have gotten smarter and there is still a long way to go before we see the 1.0 release. We are not talking about a game of a few thousand copies, but one that has sold more than three and a half million. At Take on Mars things got much worse: launched in a decent state for Early Access, it sold a few tens of thousands of copies. There have been updates, but finally Bohemia has decided to close it, launching a final version that unfortunately is in a sorry state. Could it improve by lengthening its development times? Sure, but calculate that Take on Mars has also been around since 2013 ... the truth is that Early Access, as a way to raise funds to complete a game's development, has become a parking lot for long-term products, which they end up never really being concluded so as to extend their commercial life. When there is no commercial life, then here is the trouble. It is not always so bad, but now the cases of curtains dropped too soon are numerous and it would be appropriate to start thinking about it, to perhaps impose stakes on the developers, so as to avoid unpleasant situations.
Take on Mars is an incredible simulation of Mars and all the bugs you can imagine
Mars and its derivatives
As we said, Take on Mars has been around since 2013. It is a product designed for a small niche of players, which simulates the early stages of the conquest of Mars. The game is divided into two campaigns: in the first you drive robotic scientific instruments, such as rovers and various probes, with which you have to study the surface of the red planet. It is a very slow and in its own way fascinating phase, although it requires great patience.
In the second, they take on the role of an astronaut engineer, named Mark Willis, who must be able to survive after his mission is wiped out during the ditching. Already here we can detect one of the problems taken by Take on Mars in the development phase: initially it was designed as a simulator, and was therefore focused on the reconstruction of the more strictly scientific part of the first approaches to the red planet. Over time, the original project has been somewhat marginalized to introduce the most fashionable sandbox survival mechanics, which have Minecrafted it quite a bit. So now the most practiced activity by the players is not the discovery of Mars, but its actual colonization. Over time crafting and building construction systems have been introduced, all explained in Willis' campaign missions, fully focused on his struggle for survival. The scientific campaign remains, but is in fact secondary to the other, which acts as a driving force for all other modalities. To play them in sequence they almost seem to come from two different titles, despite the fact that some elements of the scientific one return in the survival campaign. If desired, it is also possible to completely ignore the campaigns and dedicate oneself to scenarios, that is, to individual missions with specific objectives. The game has a handful already included, but if you want you can download more, made by users with the editor included in the game, from the Steam Workshop. In short, there are many contents, as well as several touches of class. Just to give an example, let's cite the different 3D interface depending on the vehicle used (if desired, more traditional on-screen interfaces can also be used, but they must be selected in the menu). Exploring the surface of Mars, reproduced from real scientific documents, is undoubtedly fascinating. Of course, some operations are really tough to do, given that the simulation nature has been taken all too seriously and even moving a single object turns out to be more complicated than expected. However, these are details, in the sense that those interested in Take on Mars will certainly not have big problems due to the excesses caused by the accuracy of the simulation.
Take on Mars takes care of burying Take on Mars
Take on Mars has one big flaw, from which all the others derive: it's not really finished. It is closed, of course, but it lacks a lot of refinements, starting from the graphics engine, with the shadows that come and go as they want, passing through an endless series of bugs, some of which are very annoying.
There are really many, too many, starting with crashes that make you go back to the desktop, to get to the rescue system that occasionally eats up the progress made forcing you to start over. But these are just two of the many, too many feasible examples. If you want we can add some campaign missions that go to women of easy virtue because it was decided to try a different approach than the established one (it happens in particular in the survival campaign, the less refined of the two), or others that are not able to terminate because some objects don't want to work, or objects that disappear from the inventory evidently sucked into a passing black hole. Another example of the little care given to the game comes from the scenarios already described, which for the most part seem to have been made with great laziness. Proof of this is the fact that they are much worse, and it is no euphemism, than some of those found in the Workshop. The same goes for multiplayer maps: few and bland ones included, also missing some of the promised features, some better than the amateur ones; pity that by now the servers are almost deserted and that it is very difficult to be able to play a complete game online in a decent way. In conclusion, there would still be a lot of work to be done on Take on Mars, which seems to have only formally exited Early Access. Who knows if Bohemia will continue to update it or if it will leave it to itself.
Always on Mars
If you like the "space simulation" theme and want to deepen it, there are other games that allow you to tackle it. The best is certainly Osiris: New Dawn, which you can always find on Steam and which, despite being still in Early Access, is in a better state than Take on Mars. Otherwise there would be Space Engineers, also still in Early Access, which offers a very advanced construction system.
PC System Requirements
- Intel Core i7-4770 processor
- 16 GB of RAM
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 video card
- Windows 10 operating system
- Windows Vista or Windows 7 operating system
- Intel Core2Duo 2.5 GHz or AMD Athlon Phenom X4 processor or faster
- 2 GB of RAM
- NVIDIA Geforce 8800GT or ATI Radeon HD 3870 video card with Shader Model 3 and 512MB VRAM or faster
- 6 GB of hard disk space
- DirectX 9.0c
- Windows 7/8/10 operating system
- Intel Core i5 or AMD Athlon Phenom X4 processor or faster
- 4 GB of RAM
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 or AMD Radeon HD 7750 or faster video card
CommentDigital Delivery Steam Price 24,99 € Resources4Gaming.com
Take on Mars once again highlights the main problem of Early Access launches: if the game is successful, the updates arrive copiously, the development team grows and dedicates itself to adding new content and the relationship with the user becomes fruitful and , in a creative sense, because there is the economic possibility of fulfilling all sensible requests. When success is less, or doesn't come, things get more critical. In some cases the game is closed in the best possible way and given to the buyers incomplete and still full of bugs, in the worst cases it is left to itself. Take on Mars belongs to the first category and fails to hide it in any way. It has potential and can be surprising in some of the things it does, but constantly having to contend with too many bugs and lack of refinement can prove detrimental over the long haul. In short, despite its undoubted qualities, at present it is difficult to recommend it to anyone.
- On a simulation level it is excellent
- Lots of things to do and experience
- Mars has a charm of its own
- Too many, too many, too many bugs, some of them obnoxious
- It lacks many finishes
- Every now and then the shadows go away no one knows where