Do you remember last year’s Unearthing Mars? I actually reviewed it and then quickly forgot about it. It wasn’t a great game. It had some nice graphics and an interesting premise, but the gameplay fell flat, aside from one slice of the game that was actually really good.
That one really good part where you get to shoot aliens rather than teleport around doing simple puzzles, has now been expanded into a full game, for better and for worse.
The opening of Unearthing Mars 2 sets up the story, but don’t be surprised to find yourself not following it too closely. This is just one of the problems with Unearthing Mars 2. While it has high production value and some of the best graphics available on PSVR, the story is a convoluted mess. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t care for the characters or their stories; the narrative is so disjointed and seemingly patched together from several ideas that it’s just not that engrossing. It’s also a little derivative; the game places you into the body of a martian with a special machine, much like the animus in Assassin’s Creed. The flicking from Martian gameplay to human conversation is really jarring.
Unearthing Mars 2 makes good use of the PSVR Aim controller, but not to its full potential. While the support is there, it’s limited. It makes gunplay a little more fun, but movement is still done by teleporting through the game’s levels. It’s a shame but it’s also a necessity.
The game is structured so that you move to set locations by teleporting, and when you hit certain trigger spots, enemies will spawn. It’s pretty much on the rails but with you in charge of the speed and, sometimes, the direction.
It could work well, but it doesn’t. Enemies spawn at set point and then move into place and stay there until you’ve killed them. Mostly. Some jump around the screen, but it’s always in a pattern so there’s no challenge. Enemies don’t dodge your gunfire, nor do they move from their one pre-determined spot. What’s more is that you can move during combat either. You’re pretty much just stuck in one spot until you’ve cleared the wave of bullet-sponge enemies. Enemies literally are bullet-sponges, that’s not just me exaggerating. There’s an ability you can use that slows down time and shows the weak spot on enemies. If you hit the weak spot, the enemy is instantly killed. I ended up relying on this for far too much of the game, just so I could make speedier progress.
This could have all been saved if the combat was any good, but it just boils down to move, stop, shoot, shoot, shoot, and repeat. There are few deviations from the gameplay formula, and it really does damage the game’s playability.
It all looks very nice though, so credit where credit is due. However, pretty graphics aren’t enough to carry sub-par gameplay and a plot that’s ruined by hammy acting and poor writing. The potential is all there, but the execution isn’t.
Unearthing Mars 2 PSVR Review
Unearthing Mars 2: The Ancient War is the sequel nobody was really asking for. Even though the game addresses the problems of the first one, it creates just as many. It's a nice looking game and the production values are definitely up there, the rest of it just falls flat and fails.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.
Chris has been writing about gaming news for far too long, and now he’s doing it even more. A true PlayStation know-it-all, Chris has owned just about every Sony console that ever existed. Trophies are like crack to this fella.