by Howie Howard
previewed on PC
5... 4... 3... 2... 1... Blast Off...
Mars Horizon is a new space strategy simulation by Indy developer Auroch Digital. The game is in beta form as of this writing and the publisher is The Irregular Corporation. I briefly played the beta, which I have a gripe about. The Mars Horizon beta run was very short. Maybe I'm out of touch with how things work these days because it started on April 27 and abruptly ended on May 4. I was able to play for several hours and then when I logged in on May 4 all I got was a message thanking me for playing the beta and that was it. Space race over for me...
The above gripe is a very minor one. Maybe that's the way things are these days what with the advent of early access and all of that. I guess that I'm just out of touch. I was able to get a bit in-depth but I didn't have the time to master the game or to gain the knowledge needed in order to actually win a space race, which this game is all about. With that said, Mars Horizon is an extremely detailed simulation in how it depicts the historic space race that took place between the United States and the Soviet Union during the 20th century. The game starts in 1957 at the very beginning of the space race and it culminates when one of three in-game space agencies makes it to Mars first. The demo, or rather the beta ends after a space agency lands on the moon. I was only able to get a satellite into Earth's orbit.
Ground Control To Major Tom...
Mars Horizon, I think, has the potential to be a great race to Mars simulation that is both educational and plain old fun. So interest in it shouldn't be limited just to space buffs like myself. The demo was completely bug free and it seemed to not be lacking in anything such as content or gameplay. The sound and visuals are pleasing and the space race starts out rather easy in the very beginning. As the race heats up things start getting more difficult just like in real life space races. Throw in a couple of rocket failures and a space race could be finished before it's even started. Then it might be best to just start over because once your agency gets behind, it can be very difficult to catch up.
As in most simulations there's a research tree complete with various technologies like better launch pads, astronaut training facilities, research labs, rockets and different space craft and much, much more! There are three space agencies present in the game and they are NASA, the European Space Agency and the Russians. As the player, you get your choice of controlling one of the agencies. Each agency has different pluses and minuses as to the agencies ability to do things like research, conduct diplomacy or have unlimited launch windows. As the game progresses and new technologies are discovered things like contractors (different civilian manufacturing companies) and advanced equipment becomes available which is then used to advance humanity's presence in space. You can even form an alliance with another agency!
I Think I'm Lost In Space?
About the only thing that's missing from the game is some kind of game help or tutorial. Even if the ability to hover the mouse over things with a pop up box appearing that describes what the item does would be helpful. Hopefully that feature will be available in the full version because knowing how things work when starting out is not easy. Using trial and error will abruptly put your agency behind the two other space agencies and that's not good. If you can't win the various races or game mission segments then you will lose renown and losing that reduces the amount of monthly monetary help provided by the government.
So whats the final thought about seeing Mars rise on the horizon? If my opinion counts for anything, all I can say is that this game looks very promising. It simply has everything as far as space things go. Watching your rocket lift off with the hope that it makes it to space is quite pleasing. There's also some replay-ability because other space agencies can be played. You can try different mission paths by omitting some missions while doing others in order to attempt to speed up progress. I can't wait until the full version is released so I can try to be the first to land on Mars!