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Mars Extraction is a game where you fight enemies flying on your Zero Gravity bike.
You are a member of the resistance group M.A.R.S. [Mars Active Resistance Squad].
The the idea is to steal plans of the Olympus mount base to prevent a war against Earth.
Equipped with a Zero Gravity bike and the appropriate weaponry, you are ordered to carry out various missions.
The missions assigned to you are to prevent Neo Martians to destroy Earth.
In order to do that you have to infiltrate and steal the plans from the mother base of the NEO Martians.

Prologue

Demonixis Games Kindly gave us this concept-game to review, beforehand i would like to note that this  beta was limited to the tutorial of the game and will be posted in the concepts section.
So bear in mind that this is not a finished product, nor would i review this as such.

Before starting the tutorial i gazed upon the inaccessible Mission 1 where it said:
You have to infiltrate a flying station Phobos 4877 to steal plans for a secret base for Neo Humans.
The stucture was said to be composed of three floors, once the plans are stolen i’d have to go down to the last level where new instructions will be given.
So i like that there’s a story involved. Before i start my games i always like to have a bit of backstory but it should be more elaborate in my opinion. – What are Neo Humans?
– Where is Olympus?
– How did this war come to be?
– Where is the flying station Phobos 4877 and what is on it?
– The Zero gravity bike, how does it work?
– Who is my character? Am i the most skilled Gravity Bike driver?
If a player gets those little story line details answered before he starts the game he or she would be more into it when things get rough.
It would be nice if they would give the player more of a connection with the game/main character to play and conquer it.
So the story line could be more elaborate to me Right from the get-go or at least make the general story known in a intro movie.

First Impression:

I started out without a game-pad to quickly get a glimpse of what this game is all about, and it already looked way better than i was expecting!

Mars1
In retrospect strapping the gear on without connecting the Bluetooth controller wasn’t a great idea. I swiped across the touch pad and in no time my vision was tumbling a all over the place forcing myself to take off the headset because the motion sickness struck me right away.
A few minutes passed and i connected my Samsung game-pad and gave it another go. After a very brief loading screen i was back on my spherical training room on MARS.

Mars2

Movement is Infinity better now! I was able to move and fly up and down as the tutorial started and gave me instructions.
The first thing i had a problem with was the placement of the tutorial text bars on the HUD, the text was showing slightly outside of the sweet spot of my vision inside the Gear VR Goggles which forced me to keep my eyes down just to be able to read what i was supposed to do. Whilst reading i couldn’t exactly keep focus on where i was flying.

Freedom of flight

The first thing to learn in the tutorial area was getting familiar with the movements.

Mars 3

Moving around in this place works very good, the motions are fluent and i noticed that the FPS counter was greeting me with a locked 60FPS during the whole session.

Like most games the controls are pretty straight forward and you should get used to it right away:

The tutorial did this well by guiding me through the basics like making me move through rings in mid-air.
– Left analog stick for directional movement
– Right analog stick for camera panning.
– Left and Right triggers on the game-pad allow you to do barrel rolls, wich is awesome!
– Button 1      for shooting
– button 2      for weponcycle
– Button 3      for reload
– button 4      center camera (which in some cases would break the main menu)
– D-pad          linear flight/Strafe up, down, left, right
– Ltrigger       Barrel roll
– Rtrigger       Barrel roll
The right analog stick to do camera movement/panning is very sensitive and if you’re moving on the Zero Gravity Bike it’s hard to not get that slight nausia feeling mid-air, especially if you have the head movement option enabled.
The game lets you go all over the place in terms of movement and i have to be honest, the freedom to go upside down/sideways while doing a barrel roll is major fun!  I found out that ideally to avoid motion sickness, turning head movement off and using the controller to move was the best way to go.

The speed in the game is too much for a neck to work with for a long period of time. Tweaking the head movement sensitivity could prove to be a great fix. It wasn’t long before i was flying through vertical tunnel that had been placed there with precision and ease, so moving accuratly is not a problem with MARS Extraction.

Got to shoot things

As the tutorial went on i got instructions to go and get some guns wich were conveniently placed for me right at the center of the environment.
Not only did i get to grab a gun, i got to take three.

– Double Laser
– Missile Launcher
– Sub Machine gun

Mars4

I was scooping all three up in a big loop and noticed that the table had no collision on so i went straight through it. At pickup you hear a robot voice saying what you’ve just picked up, it’s a nice touch but the annunciation wasn’t clear enough. I could make it out after thinking about it but things like that should just register immediately.
Now that i have guns the instructions state that i can cycle through my weapons by pressing button 2.
Switching guns is easy to do, knowing what you are actively carrying not so much. The problem is that the icon for the weaponry is too far out of the sweet spot of your vision, so again you will have to move your eyes in the far right corner to make out what it is that you’re carrying.

A quick follow-up instruction was to grab some ammo

Mars5

The next instruction was to use the gun on something that can take damage. In this case i got to shoot a target with a big bullseye but it quickly became apparent that the accuracy is really off when you have the “move with head” option enabled after you centered the camera so that’s a thing that should be looked at.

Remember when i wrote that turning the head movement off was really good choice on the movement experience? Really good!
Not so much for aiming now. Even though i was playing around with the sensitivity of the analog stick, i couldn’t find a setting that suited me best for now. Aiming with the analog stick while moving at the speed you’ve acquired while not aiming with your vision/Head position isn’t as easy as you’d think.

Aiming with the head was great though! So if the cross hair could still get fixed to the head movement without making the head movement turn the Zero Gravity bike around you’d have a solid foundation in terms of movement and shooting. After some target practice i got to shoot a sentry and a moving target that looked like a droid.
The movement of the droid was really static though. Like it was tightly following a pre-fixed line. When i shot at it i kinda hoped it would move away but it just kept on moving. But this is a tutorial after all and a beta at that, so this might be intentional.
I liked the damage of the weapons and the impact the weapons have on enemy’s. they seem well balanced as far as i can tell.
One slight comment about the shooting animation is that the shooting (like shooting dual lasers) would be nicer if they came together in the cross hair. I’d rather see them warp inward as they shoot out into the distance then to have them just moving forward at a fixed position no matter how far they go because it doesn’t help with focusing on a target.

That was all the tutorial had to offer me for now. The missions are locked, so who knows what’ll lurk behind mission 1? Maybe the addressed issues i had have already addressed and hopefully my findings will help towards sculpting a better gameplay experience for M.A.R.S Extraction on the Gear VR

 

Verdict (for now):

A game that has potential but could use a more elaborate story line, the graphics are nicely done but when the cockpit view is on it’s really annoying to try and read the text whereas the text is 100% better when the move with head option is off. I love the fact that there are ways to customize your experience from the menu to get around small personal issues in terms of playability. But even with tweaks reading which weapon i hold active on the far right or reading the tutorial text was unpleasant. It should be brought more into the sweet spot of the players vision. So the HUD bar should be more up and the weapon gauge more centered. It looks better then a lot of games on the Oculus store right now. The loading time seems very fast and the game was locked tightly in the 60FPS. The movement and shooting could use some work even though there already many ways to tweak the experience in the menu which i appreciate!
This is a game that i would get from the oculus store as the title alone is appealing, but simple game mechanics like the accuracy and ease of movement are basic things that need to be addressed.

Mars Extraction Review
Design5
FEATURES6
GRAPHICS5
VR COMFORT3
REPLAY VALUE6
5Overall Score

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