Surviving Mars: Space Race (Xbox One) Review

By Gabriel Jones 31.01.2019

Review for Surviving Mars: Space Race on Xbox One

Earlier this year, fans of the building simulator genre were treated to Surviving Mars. All players had to do in this was oversee the creation of a thriving colony on an inhospitable planet. For a lot of first-timers, the "thriving" part turned out to be one heck of a hurdle. Sure, anyone with deep pockets can build a few domes, but talent is required in order to maintain them. Those who lacked an eye for resource management could only watch in horror as their colonies fell into chaos. Imagine spending billions of dollars on a failed endeavour. It's heart-wrenching isn't it? Nevertheless, it's time to take another crack at Mars with the DLC expansion, Surviving Mars: Space Race.

The basic idea behind Surviving Mars: Space Race is that it presents a wealth of new challenges for veterans to sink their teeth into. While it is possible to get by with a less than passing familiarity with the base game, it's not recommended for anyone who wishes to get the most out of this DLC. As is usually the case with building simulators, the level of difficulty is remarkably fluid. Players are encouraged to rely on sponsors that aren't flush with cash, build colonies in the most resource-strapped locations, and basically do everything possible to make life harder on themselves.

With that in mind, let's start with the first of several additions. All of the sponsors have been revamped to be more than just a paycheque. Alongside starting funds, they provide unique perks to help the commander along. If one were to choose Brazil as a sponsor, they'll be allowed access to the Rare Metals Refinery. When drilling for water and minerals, a lot of waste rock is produced. With this special refinery, that useless debris can be converted into rare metals, which are worth a tidy sum back on Earth.

Screenshot for Surviving Mars: Space Race on Xbox One

Generally it's a good idea to adopt a playstyle that adheres to a sponsor's advantages and disadvantages. Take the Church of the New Ark for example. It takes longer for their colonists to research tech, but their birthrate is doubled. Consider this an opportunity to raise lots of scientists. Temple Spires, which improve a dome's social rating, are a fine place for the devout to meet up. Be sure to build as many as necessary.

Colonization has also become somewhat of a competition. Before starting a new game, players can decide on up to three rival sponsors, each of whom will attempt to build a thriving colony of their own. Keep in mind that this decision won't completely change the nature of the game. It's not as if they'll ever have to worry about building an army to stop anyone that might be encroaching upon their borders. Besides, these colonies are almost literally on the other side of the world. Don't expect to interact with them very often.

Screenshot for Surviving Mars: Space Race on Xbox One

However, an interest in basic diplomacy doesn't hurt. Feel free to communicate with other colonies, especially in matters such as trade. If they're on good terms, they might be willing to exchange resources, or share their technological advancements. Who knows? They might even be willing to bail the player out, if they're willing to return the favour. Espionage is also an option. Although it's a poor method for making friends, the commander is free to order spies to infiltrate rival colonies. They can even engage in sabotage. Imagine if something awful were to happen to Brazil's precious Rare Metal Refinery.

Ultimately, the colonies are competing for prestige. Being the first to conquer Mars is sure to be a boon to one's pride, even if it doesn't really count as "winning." In most cases, the rivals are there to serve as a means of comparison. If the player is ever wondering about where they stand in this race, they can take a glance at the milestones the other colonies have achieved, and see how they stack up. To put it another way, think of the competitive aspects as added flavour. They help to keep one invested beyond the immediate worries of building structures and managing resources.

Screenshot for Surviving Mars: Space Race on Xbox One

A slew of random events will also inject some variety into the average play-through. These special occurrences can lead to all sorts of benefits, or more disasters. In one case, the commander was visited by a man claiming to be Satan, who then taught him how to wring an extra two billion dollars out of his sponsor. Unfortunately, the commander forgot the #1 rule when dealing with the devil: don't. Several sols later, Satan returned, demanding the souls of a handful of colonists, but was immediately rebuffed by the commander. In response, he summoned a meteor shower and absolutely shredded the colony.

These events can play out differently, depending on choices the player makes, as well as the current status of their colony. At first, one might be willing to overlook renegades stealing trace amounts of minerals. However, if they're left unchecked, they might do something catastrophic, like blow up a rocket. Rockets are the only means of transportation to and from Earth, and they're very expensive to replace. Some incidents can be resolved if certain conditions are meant. A potentially life-threatening decrease in food quality can be alleviated by having 10 vegans participant in a hunger strike. Otherwise the contract with the food manufacturer has to be broken, and that's half a billion bucks down the drain. Seeing as how a lot of Mars' food comes from hydroponic gardens, it shouldn't be too difficult to have the required number of vegans.

Screenshot for Surviving Mars: Space Race on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Ultimately, this DLC accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do. It presents more variables to consider. This not only spices up the average play-through, it also allows for more flexibility in determining that perfect level of difficulty. Just be aware that the full breadth of features requires a significant time investment. It's the whole "you get out of it what you put into it" adage. The rival colonies can seem a bit trivial, especially if one is never put into a position where they might have to deal with them. Expecting the player to invest hundreds of hours and pursue the toughest scenarios might be asking a lot, but if they're really enjoying the base game, then Surviving Mars: Space Race is worth looking into.

Developer

Haemimont

Publisher

Paradox Interactive

Genre

Simulation

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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