In the year 2019, Vita 1, the first manned base on Mars, sent this mysterious message to Earth and was never heard from again, "If you send a manned craft, warn the crew to stay alone, stay alive."
This is the beginning of Take 2 Interactive’s nightmarish mystery, Martian Gothic: Unification, for the Playstation 1 game console. You control a three-person crew sent to Mars to investigate the fates of Vita Base One’s crewmembers, only to find that the station is overrun with the undead. Each member of your team enters the base through a different airlock, following the "stay alone, stay alive", directive. You control all three members, individually, to achieve your goals. By using the base- wide computer system (to open doors, gather information, and save games) and vacuum tube system (which can transport items from one part of the base to another), the team members can help each other from afar. When a locked door or other such obstacle traps one team member, you may be able to help them by controlling one of the other characters and using something that they have at their disposal. Besides weapons and ammo, there are plenty of items to be acquired to solve the puzzle that is Martian Gothic.
Martian Gothic is setup a lot like the Resident Evil series of games. Just like Resident Evil, game play is in the 3rd person view, and just like Resident Evil it has the same annoying, frustrating controls. The direction controls get confusing, because the camera angles change from room to room, plus in order to fire a weapon, you first have to pull it out.
The graphics are quite good for the Playstation 1. The opening introductions sequence and the game scenery really added to the horror and mystery theme of the game. The audio is good and at times it made me jump out of my seat when a zombie leaped from out of nowhere.
It seemed, to me, a little too hard to scout around the base without a weapon. You can try to run away, but more often than not, you cannot get away. Also, there is no punch button. There is a kick button, but it doesn’t really do much of anything. It’s not so much of a kick; it’s more of a glorified toe tap. If a zombie starts gnawing on your head, there is no control to push them off of your character. When a zombie latches onto my crewmember, I do that futile controller dance, where I try to hit all eight buttons on the controller at once in a vain attempt to free them. I was disappointed to not find any difficulty settings, like similar games have.
The story line is entertaining and suspenseful, but, most of the dialogue is just plain disastrous. There are plenty of gems like this, "Is anyone around? Anyone alive? Or dead? If you’re dead, don’t answer." Some of the text in the game was a little small and sometimes hard to read.
If you enjoyed the Resident Evil series and games of that ilk, you will enjoy Martian Gothic: Unification. The difficulty of the controls and the overall difficulty of game play are why I give Martian Gothic: Unification 3 out of 5 GiN gems. Best of all, this previously released PC game is in the value bin now, so you can pick up a decent adventure for $10.