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This is a Preview of the Soon to be released PC STEAM version of the digital edition of the boardgame.

   The taming of the Red Planet has begun! Corporations are competing to transform Mars into a habitable planet by spending vast resources and using innovative technology to raise temperature, create a breathable atmosphere, and make oceans of water.

 

 

TERRAFORMING MARS is one of the most popular boardgames of the current calendar of boardgames. It is the board game that everyone is talking about and those who haven't played it want to play it and everyone who has played it wants to play it again.

Asmodee Digital are already responsible for creating amazing work on the recreation of several fashionable board games, including Settlers of Catan which is both in 3D and VR (and which is totally absorbing), as well as Scythe and Mansion of Madness, the latter two being in the same £50.00-£80.00 board game price range as Terraforming Mars. Below in my opinionated writing I have tried to be as positiove as possible, I always try not to write negative reviews, and I like to convey what I consider to be the better things about the TERRAFORMING MARS experience on my home PC; but although I keep returning to it and have done so several times during completing this page to try to wring more out of it, the truth is it  just isn't a game that does anything for me and I am finding it very difficult to explain it as anything more than a good idea gone wrong. The good thing is that you can experience TERRAFORMING MARS on your PC a lot less expensively than buying the boardgame and thus it may go a long way towards helping you make up your mind about purchasing the physical tabletop version. Of course if you already have the tabletop game and are looking for players then it may be a way for you to gain them without inviting them into your home (or taking your boxed game out of the house).

   

TerraForming Mars digital is basically a card game with an elegant but unsurprisingly flat board where you have two turns per Round where you can perform actions, play cards, spend resources etc. If you have nothing you can do you can skip a Round and just Pass. Although this gives your opponents Turns ahead of you it also gives you a small bonus as a boost for your next turn. Depending on which option you take at the start of the game you begin with N€ which you can spend throughout the game on buying new cards etc. Cards are then played to bring water, crops and buildings etc to the surface of Mars, but to play a card you need the resources it [the card] requires, and near the beginning of the game even if only one resource (usually with X€ - shown in the top left corner) is wanted it is unlikely you will have it. This is where the game should become interesting as you need to work, plan and, as the TV show says, play your cards right.  The spaces where you can position your constructions on the beautiful planet MARS light up (highlight) when you select a card that you can use. This is helpful obviously but it also means that to occupy/utilise the space you want you need to have available a selection of usable/playable cards and take your time trying them out, watching the highlighted sections until the one you really want/need is one of them. You can zoom in and out of the planet view and rotate it slightly up and down but there is very little else you can do with it physically.

Some sections show where growing Food is optimal, though you need to lay water down first, and others, for example, show where construction etc. is better. It all sounds like it should be a good game and maybe it is to players who love their games to be slow evolvers (rather like the boardgame) but this is a computer game and it simply takes too long for anything of consequence to happen.

 

From a boardgamer who also enjoys digital/electronic games on consoles and home computers point of view, for me personally TERRAFORMING MARS as a digital game is about as cold as the planet itself. It is impersonal even when playing with other humans and obviously more so when playing against the game's intelligence. The screens look good, the reproduction of the cards and artwork are superb and virtually every step of the board game is replicated in honest fashion, but, and it may be just me, it just doesn't work as far as holding interest or providing a satisfying experience goes.

   

The game plays slowly and is quite different from most other computer card games I have played. Many of the mechanics happen cleverly off-screen in the unseen depths due to the excellent programming, but although the programmers are fantastically skilled that is also part of the problem as there is not a lot visual stimulation or anything exciting to see. I know that when you sit around a table with a board, cards and miniatures etc they only move when you physically move them, there are no shooting stars, no flying spaceships or astronauts taking one small step for man across the board, heck the planet doesn't even rotate unless you turn the board around (or over, but then you only get the Dark Side of the Moon ​Mars). When you play a game online about TerraForming Mars you expect to see something to stimulate your senses, maybe not all of those things, but what you don't expect is for an online game to be almost as static as the board game.

 

So when I say "it doesn't work" I mean it does work as far as imitating the excitement of the boardgame goes but it doesn't work in the manner I personally want a computer game to work. Take Settlers of Catan VR as an example of a board game that Asmodee have digitised into one of the best Virtual Reality games available. The electronic version of SoC recreates the board game visually but it also has a somewhat personal interaction with the game's intelligence, maybe because the AI players are fun characters. "Green Player", "Red Player" etc doesn't have the same fun ring to it. 

    

If you are happy letting the game have more input than the player then TERRA FORMING MARS digital will keep you amused. I found it difficult to concentrate on what I was doing because it wasn't generating any empathy with me and after a short time I found I wasn't taking any notice of what the opposing players were doing and a little while later I wasn't even concentrating on what I was doing in my turn; I simply lost interest.

There is so much going on, so many options and possibilities available, so many different ways of playing your game, but if you are playing on your own, like many computer gamers do a lot of the time, at the moment it might not have as much entertainment value as you are used to. It isn't shop-ready at the moment and so I am only commenting on what is currently available, the finished product will almost certainly offer more.

 

 

 

The game I have previewed above is currently the PRE-ALPHA mode. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015