Paradox Interactive has long been impossible to call a company with a narrow specialization. Yes, as long as no one makes a global historical strategy of better (and does it at all?), than the Swedes, but now they are known as publishers of projects of a variety of genres: from arcades to role-playing games.
This time, the paradoxes decided to return to the urban theme: three years ago, they were already the publisher of a very successful Cities: Skylines, and now under their command was published Surviving Mars, in which everyone can build the city of their dreams on the red planet. The developer is also once again not necessary to represent-it’s a well-known Studio Haemimont Games, which we love for the last three parts of Tropico. Perfect team? I guess so. But this is not a guarantee of a good game.
Robots are working hard
The Martian mission begins much earlier than the rocket leaves the starting table. First, you have to choose the conditions that affect what, in fact, we will fly to our neighbor in the Solar system. The funding, the number of available missiles and other features of the upcoming trip depend on the company-organizer and leader of the expedition. The choice of the payload is also important: to take more polymers and spare parts or better to immerse the whole plant in the rocket, and to do the Assembly of mechanisms already in place? If there is only a couple of missiles and meager funding (as, for example, in the game for Russia), the filling of the cargo compartment makes a good smash his head. Finally, the last preparation – you need to choose the landing site, focusing on tips that indicate the expected location of resources and possible difficulties (dust storms, cold, meteor showers).
Is it risky to fly to Mars to create an entire colony without properly scouting the terrain and creating the infrastructure of the future settlement in advance? Of course! Colonizers in the Surviving Mars of the same opinion, so the first rocket people are not allowed. The initial training stage is entirely in the hands of the manipulators of the whole construction team of Autonomous drones. They do not need oxygen and food, only electricity is enough. There are building materials-it means that there will be work: the construction of resource extractors and plants for their processing, the construction of power plants and batteries, repair and maintenance of mechanisms…
Nevertheless, we cannot do without people: robots are not able to provide a full production cycle. They do a great job with the usual work, but can not produce metals and rare minerals. The latter are also used for trade with Land — this allows the colony to reach self-sufficiency and even make a profit. Well, in the end, we want to create human settlement beyond Earth and not the colony for the heartless piece of iron?
After these hardware built habitable dome, it will be connected to pipelines with oxygen and water, it is possible to order the following start — with future Martians.
Is there life on Mars?
As in any other self-respecting urban simulator, in Surviving Mars residents have certain skills and character traits. It is logical to assume that the best of the best will be selected for the first extraterrestrial colony, but in fact it is not so. Applicants who want to go on a long journey, under a hundred, but not everyone will be an ideal colonist. Fortunately, the player can choose the future residents on their own, based on their own ideas about who exactly should entrust such a responsible thing.
However, you can not bother with the study of each applicant, and set the parameters-for example, to take on Board only male vegetarians of middle age. Especially convenient in the later stages, when too lazy to mess with each candidate separately. But the first batch still want to take his own-the pioneers of Mars must meet such a high rank.
People are much more capricious than robots. And it’s not just the need to provide them with breathable air, clean water and food. In addition to natural needs, there are not so mundane-people need both work and a place to relax, comfortable temperature in the dome and safety inside and outside.
If all basic needs are met, the number of settlers may increase naturally — and the “indigenous” Martians will begin to emerge very soon. However, there are enough volunteers on the Ground who want to go on a flight — there would be missiles.
The larger the population of the colony, the more problems with the maintenance of buildings and structures and meet the needs of the colonists. And those, and others becomes very much, and it is not easy to keep track of everything. But much more sad that you have to fight not so much with a variety of gameplay difficulties that are designed to entertain the player, but with an inconvenient interface, meager mechanics and the lack of normal statistics and other data.
If you compare Surviving Mars with similar strategies, it is still closer to RimWorld or Dwarf Fortress, rather than to the classic urban SIM like SimCity. We have not tens of thousands of residents and hundreds of homes, but much smaller scale. Resources — not abstract “money” or “building materials”, and quite concrete: metals, concrete, spare parts and other, being on concrete warehouses. Each resident can be studied in detail — what he does, what character traits has and what specifically satisfied or annoyed.
But how inconvenient it is implemented! We do not have a list of colonists — you have to look for the right or through his place of work, or choose any and sort them out one by one until you get to the right. Another option — literally catch on the street, poking the mouse.
This is not the worst thing — the need to deal with an individual settler does not occur so often. The main problem is much more complicated and is inherent in the very essence of the game mechanics. The fact is that the drones, which are engaged in the main work, are tied to special control centers. The latter are stationary, in the form of special buildings, and are on missiles. A third variant of the transport vehicle. The robots assigned to the TSU will perform work only within the range of this TSU. Everything seems to be logical, but in practice the difficulties begin immediately after the colony grows a little.
Colonists can only work near the dome. We saw promising deposits of rare metals-so we have to build a dome in the immediate vicinity of the mines. We put the second TSU or we overtake the carrier of drones on the place of future building-the existing control center any more “finishes” on such distance. You think the drones will get to work? It was not there – for the construction of resources that are in warehouses somewhere in the center of the colony (or not unloaded from the rocket). And if the warehouse is outside the scope of the new TSU (and it will be), the drones simply do not see it.
Well, you can drag and drop resources with a special machine — to do it once is not difficult. And what next? Resources are spent on maintenance and repair, they are consumed by factories and industrial buildings. It is very easy to miss the moment of scarcity of materials in a particular area of the settlement. The colony is simply not able to distribute resources between the warehouses on its own! The storage does not even have a banal system of priorities — only manual orders to transport drones.
Root of evil
Further-more. The usual thing: in a residential dome lights out — not enough energy. Clearly, we’ve screwed up the power system somewhere, but where exactly? Even if you have two or more closed circuits of power supply, you can only see the overall figure (deficit or surplus) of the entire colony as a whole. Similar to the reserves of oxygen and water — no detailed graphs or special layers of resource availability, which have become the standard for the genre. You have to calculate everything manually, “Poselkovaya” each building.
In fact, we will not be able to create one large colony — it turns out to be a network of small, self-supporting settlements, sometimes even unrelated to each other. Otherwise will drown in the micro. However, you and so it drown: it is still unknown that it is easier — to manage three or four villages, each of which must be provided with all kinds of resources for Autonomous existence, or to distribute these resources manually within one large city.
On top of that, the colonization of the planet takes place at a very leisurely pace. Studies are drawn and drawn, some new mechanic is added very little, and in the colony itself almost nothing happens, despite the promised dangers like dust storms or meteorite fall. Yes, these natural disasters do occur, but they are not as frightening as the routine and the need to control everything manually — with far from the most convenient interface. Finally, the lack of detailed statistics puts an end to long-term planning and the possibility of comfortable development of their colony.
Surviving Mars, despite the excellent picture and the lack of serious bugs, gives the impression not even a beta version, but a prototype. You can play it, but to have fun — with great difficulty. Perhaps the situation will get better over time: Paradox Interactive likes to fix the shortcomings of the release with a variety of DLC. However, at the moment colonize Mars is better in some other game.