TL;DR – A DLC that is full of exciting ideas but also some missed opportunities and frustrations.
Rating: 3 out of 5.
Disclosure – I paid for this DLC
Surviving Mars: Below and Beyond Review –
Over the years, one of the games I come back to once in a while has been Surviving Mars. This is a strategy game/ city builder about constructing the first human colony on Mars with drones, domes, and danger, oh my. While it was full of promise, it hit its stride with the Green Planet DLC, allowing you to terraform Mars into an oasis gradually. For a long time, this looked like it would be the final stop for the game, but recently there was a surprise announcement of a new DLC Below and Beyond, which we will look at today.
The essential overview of this new DLC is that while exploring the surface of Mars, you have come across these vents under the surface. Here there are large tunnels, old lava tubes, so large that you could both explore and even colonise them. The one big drawback is that they are very dangerous as cave falls can crush rovers and cut off passageways. You can use technologies found in the new Recon and Expansion tech tree to make exploring safer. Still, if you want to colonise down below, you will need sturdier materials, which is good because it just so happens that several asteroids are coming close to Mars’ orbit with Exotic Minerals just perfect for the new task.
TL;DR – An emotional gut punch as you watch it all unravel
Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars
Can you tell a compelling and heartfelt narrative in seven minutes with very little dialogue? That would actually be quite a challenge but today we get to look at an episode that does just that as it builds to a moment that breaks you.
So to set the scene, we open in on April the 5th, First Contact Day, a day of celebration but for two girls living in San Francisco it is a day of sadness in part. For Lil (Sadie Munroe) her dad (Jason Deline) is stuck working on the Mars Orbital Facility and can’t make it downwell to see her. On the other side, we have Kima (Ilamaria Ebrahim) whose mom (Joy Castro) also works on Mars at the Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards. In a moment of sadness, Lil accidentally knocks over Kima on the way to the shuttle pick up making Kima late for school and then it all spirals in from there.
TL;DR – A stunning film exploring the world of one man as it all falls apart around him
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Goodness, it has been a while since I have watched a film quite like this. Where
we dive straight into the mind of one character and follow their drive through
a slowly deteriorating experience. I think the last film that I watched that
was able to pull this off was Arrival
and you get hints of that here as well. With that in mind, let’s dive into a
murky world of space exploration and the legacy/damage of our parents.
So to set the scene, we open in the near future where humankind has made their
first steps into the solar system. One of the main drives is to find out if there
is any other intelligent life out there in the universe but of course like all
things mining and profit are not far behind. Major Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) is
working on the large space antenna that goes all the way up into
low-Earth-orbit when a cosmic storm hits and he is thrown from the structure. Landing
thanks to a parachute he is taken to Space Command Headquarters where he finds
out that his long lost dad Clifford (Tommy Lee Jones) might be alive and might
also be the one behind the surge that has killed 40,000 people and climbing. So
Roy hops on a rocket for the Moon only to discover not all is what it seems.
– It builds on everything that worked in the base
game and then adds features that make it a must play
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
Last year I had a look at a really interesting strategy game about starting the first ever colony on Mars. Just in its name, Surviving Mars, it told you just how hard it would be to build and sustain life on a hostile planet. You could set up a colony only to sit there and watch it die because you accidentally set up a negative feedback loop. But while this can be devastating, the game is always there tempting you to try again, and when you succeed there is so much joy in that moment. While I enjoyed my time in Surviving Mars, it did feel like it had yet to reach its full potential. Well, today we are going to look at the newest expansion Green Planet to see if this helps to fill in the gaps in the base game with copious amounts of Martian concrete.
So to set the scene, you are the commander for the first colony being sent to the red planet. When you arrive Mars is a bleak, hostile, but also a deeply beautiful place. It is a planet filled with promise but also death. You need to build up resources, construct domes to protect your people, provide oxygen and water, and keep it safe from all the disasters that can strike. However, while surviving is fine, there is a next step that you could take. Because what if we can shape Mars to be friendlier, what if we could turn it into a green planet?
TL;DR – As a game it is a really interesting puzzle to get right, mimicking real life in some ways, but it would be good to take it a step further.
Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars
When it comes to settings for films, TV, books, or games nothing is an easier sell for me than setting something on Mars. Whether it is your Red Mars trilogy, your Total Recall, your The Martian, whatever it may be, I am just engrossed with our red neighbour floating out in the void. So with this in mind, we are looking at a game today that simulates what it would be like potentially to create a colony on the red planet and well be prepared going in that you probably going to kill your colony a couple of times.
TL;DR – A movie with tension, humour and humanity, go watch it
Score – 5 out of 5 stars
The Martian is a film about adversity and challenge in an environment that will kill you, which would make a very interesting film, now take that environment and put it on another planet and then leave your protagonist alone as everything crumbles around them.