Take on Mars is a robotic Mars mission simulator from Bohemia Interactive. The main word here is simulator. This is not a Kerbal clone. If Kerbal was a Call of Duty game then this would be an Arma game. The point of the game is to explore and unlock the secrets of Mars.
Take On Mars places you in the seat of a rover operator that can control rovers from Earth (without the real life 13 minutes lag). You start with a limited budget and a low tech level in which you have to build your first Mars lander. For each mission you are given an objective, such as finding the composition of the atmosphere, or capturing a photo survey of a site. Every time you complete a mission your budget increases, and so does your tech level. With each tech level increase you are given better quality cameras for your spacecraft and the ability to build better rovers.
To build a lander or rover you have to enter the lab. In the lab you are given a choice of different frames to base your lander/rover on. The first two basic ones are lander and rover. After you select a frame the next task is to add components that will allow you to complete the mission. These include cameras, sensors, and power sources. Adding these components is simple. You select the component from the menu and you are give positions on your lander/rover to add them. You can’t add components anywhere as each type of component can only be placed on certain sections of your lander/rover. This means that currently there are only a limited amount of variations of landers/rovers that you can build. Each component costs money so you need to be careful with your budget. Before launching your lander/rover you can send it to the testing area. This allows you to test the lander/rover capabilities. You don’t want to launch a dud to Mars, it costs too much!
The game is very slow paced. The rovers travel the same speed as the real deal. It can take over an hour to travel just a few hundred meters. It can be really dull driving in a straight line for an hour, only dodging the occasional rock. Even going at that speed it’s easy to break something. The game features a realistic physics collisions. This means rovers tip over, solar panels snap, and wheels break off. One small mistake can result in the loss of your rover. You can send more rovers in its place, but lose too many and your budget will run out.
Graphically the game looks decent. The Mars in Take on Mars looks like the real Mars. If you follow the current NASA Mars missions then some areas in the game such as Victoria Crater will look familiar. This is both good and bad. It’s great being able to explore a real part of Mars. The problem is the Martian landscape is quite a dull a place to set a game. There’s nothing there apart from some rocks and a few holes in the ground. It obviously fit this game well, just don’t expect to be blown away with the scenery. As fellow Calm Down Tom writer Ben said when he saw a game play video “At least Train Simulator has nice scenery”.
There is not much in the way of sound in the game. Most of the sounds you will hear is either the sound of moving machine parts, and the sound of the rover driving. If you’re not careful you will also be able to hear the grinding of metal due to crashing your rover. There is music in the game but it’s a bit creepy and doesn’t really suit the game.
Take on Mars is still in early development and it shows. A lot of the games main features are yet to be adding into the game. For example when you use sensors instead of a detailed analysis you get the same one line of generic info. There are graphical glitches such as invisible rocks, and the rocket flames don’t line up correctly with the rocket engines. If you’re a Kerbal Space Program fan and want to know if you should get this game then follow this advice: if you bought Kerbal Space Program because you’re into astronomy and love all thing space then this games for you. If you bought it because “rockets go boom” then don’t bother.