Sawbuck Gamer

Mars Colonies


Mars Colonies requires more than taking soil samples and roving around willy-nilly.

By Drew Toal • June 6, 2013

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap game ($10 or less).

To my mind, the quintessential Mars colony film is John Carpenter’s underappreciated 2001 space odyssey, Ghosts Of Mars. No matter what the trouble is on the terraformed Red Planet, it’s a pretty good bet that the unlikely team of Jason Statham, Pam Grier, Natasha Henstridge, and Ice Cube can handle it. In Mars Colonies, your team doesn’t have quite that A-list heft, but they’re not unionized either, which makes it easier to send them out into horrendous working conditions.

The game is fashioned in the traditional real-time strategy mode. You build and defend a colony under sometimes adverse conditions. It’s important to allocate resources intelligently and understand that most of the colony’s structures are interdependent on one another. (Science, the game repeatedly tells you, is the only currency that matters.)

After a building is raised, it most likely needs power and water from nearby stations to properly function. But don’t get so involved with construction that you forget about other priorities. For instance, you don’t want to let your people run out of oxygen. That’s bad for morale and for your continued existence. Mars Colonies has amusing, borderline copyright-infringing touches; some of the colonists you can hire have recognizable names like Corporal Hicks or Red Dwarf’s Arnold Rimmer. While it has its share of hazards, the game isn’t focused on fighting and armies. The primary obstacles to contend with are disaffection among the ranks, resource management, and the aforementioned oxygen depletion. Good thing it’s easy enough to get cut-rate help from off-planet to replace them. Those migrant laborers will be happy to work for practically no breathable air at all.

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5 Responses to “SimColony”

  1. What a smeg-head.

  2. His_Space_Holiness says:

    So what can I buy with twenty Science? And what do I get in change?

  3. Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

    Serious question: is there anything that really distinguishes it from other RTS builders?

    • Brainstrain says:

      Nope. It’s an interesting game, but painfully slow-paced and you don’t have much control over individual units. And I got the impression that half of the game was the tutorial – not sure, since I only got to the fourth mission or so.