Game Over Online ~ Martian Gothic: Unification

GameOver Game Reviews - Martian Gothic: Unification (c) Talonsoft, Reviewed by - Seth Gecko

Game & Publisher Martian Gothic: Unification (c) Talonsoft
System Requirements Pentium II 266, 32MB Ram, 450MB HDD, 3D Accelerator, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 68%
Date Published Friday, May 26th, 2000 at 02:46 PM

Divider Left By: Seth Gecko Divider Right

Martian Gothic is a horror action adventure game in the mold of Alone in the Dark or Resident Evil. While the game is story-driven in its graphical adventure mode, it also features an assortment of action sequences that try to give it an edge. The end result is a story that gets lost in a sea of zombies and puzzles that are simply far too repetitive and annoying.

Martian Gothic was penned by science fiction author Stephen Marley. The story revolves around recent real-life events surrounding the Red Planet. Such events as the 1984 discovery of the Mars meteorite in Antarctica and the 1996 discovery of what appeared to be some sort of bacteria within the rock. It's July 17th, 2019 and a three-member team has just landed on Mars. Ten years earlier, Earthcare Unity, a corporation that took over NASA in the early 21st century, sent a manned landing to Mars to establish the Vita base in order to investigate the possible existence of Martian lifeforms and the possibility of the colonization of Mars. On August 8th, 2018, Earth received what would be the final transmission from the base before it went silent. The message: "If you send a manned craft, warn the crew-stay alone, stay alive". The game begins as the three-member team enters the Vita base in an attempt to uncover the nature of the message and the truth behind the now humbled Vita base.

The three-member team consists of Martin Karne (Government Security), Diane Matlock (Georgian Lawyer's daughte… errr, Microbiologist) and Kenzo Uji (Artificial Intelligence Expert). As the game begins, each of the three members enters the Vita base from a different location. What makes Martian Gothic unique is that you'll be able to control all three of the main characters as you explore the depths of the base. Many of the puzzles in the game actually require interaction between your three-member crew. When one of your crew comes to a door he or she can't open, or a hallway he or she can't traverse because they don't have a weapon to fight the baddies with, you'll have to switch to another character in order to lend a helping hand. Team members can exchange objects with one another via a tube system that exists throughout the base. So, for example, if one of your team members requires a key to advance past a particular door, it might be up to one of your other members to find the key and send it to your troubled partner. Martian Gothic claims to be relatively non-linear but when taken into account much of the action is divided into sections, that's not an altogether correct statement. The game is arguably non-linear but it's certainly very scripted in terms of the action and advancement of the team members.

One of the problems with Martian Gothic is the repetitive nature of the puzzles. There's very little innovation when it comes to the brain teasers as Martian Gothic falls back numerous times on the old 'find the key that will open the door' theory. There are only a few puzzles within the game that actually require special skills that each character possesses. The only unique aspect in terms of solving the puzzles is the necessary interaction between the three characters in order to traverse certain areas. It's important to be aware of each character's place within the game because if you leave one of your characters in a hostile environment, they probably won't be alive when you get back to them. That brings us to the second problem in Martian Gothic, the incredibly annoying zombies that now occupy the Vita base. You'll find that no matter what you do to put an end to their existence, they simply won't stay down for long. It's a good idea to simply avoid as many of the zombies as physically possible because it's a waste of your time to try and actually kill them. There are numerous other enemies within the base that will rear their ugly head later in the game, so save your ammunition for the later stages, although finding ammo is usually not a problem.

Martian Gothic offers a rich and detailed environment but one that doesn't seem to be alive. Rooms are often filled with all sorts of objects but many of them seem to be nailed to the floor. Martian Gothic features the common theory that states: 'if you can pick it up, you must need to use it later on'. I'm still awaiting an adventure game that allows you to really interact with the environment without actually knowing which particular items will be useful in the future or not. Saving games within Martian Gothic has been handled in a unique manner. Your three-member crew will happen upon computer terminals throughout the base and each computer can store two saved games. Although this might seem restrictive in some ways, it's a nice touch that makes you work a little harder.

The graphics in Martian Gothic are your typical adventure visuals. The environments and backgrounds have been pre-rendered and look extremely detailed and crisp. The problem is all the characters and enemies are rendered in 2D polygons. The result is a 2D character walking around a 3D environment. We've seen this tactic employed numerous times in adventure games and the effect is still hard to swallow. The fact the highest resolution in the game is 640x480 doesn't help much either. In terms of sound, Martian Gothic is a mixed bag. Some of the speech is done exceptionally well while others are absolutely putrid. The environmental effects come across well though as does the eerie music that accompanies it.

Control of your three-member crew comes at the hands of your keyboard and only the keyboard. There's no mouse control at all so you'll want to learn those hotkeys pretty damn quick. The tab key alternates the character in question and many of the other keys are easy to adhere too, but combat becomes an excruciating experience. Many a time, I had a hard time putting a zombie on his ass and finding my way out of a particular room before the zombie got back to his feet. I had to literally kill some zombies a half-dozen times before I was able to escape or perform the task I had come to do.

It's the same old story, this game is full of potential but just doesn't deliver the goods. Martian Gothic features an excellent sci-fi storyline and the inclusion of a three-member crew, accompanying the necessary interaction between them, is a relatively unique concept. It all goes downhill when the repetitive enemies and uninspiring puzzles are implemented. The framework is lacking and what results is a game that is hard to bear if only to see how the story ends.

[ 13/20 ] Graphics
[ 12/15 ] Sound
[ 20/30 ] Gameplay
[ 12/20 ] Fun Factor
[ 05/05 ] Storyline
[ 06/10 ] Overall Impression


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