Vermes on Mars review (iOS / Universal)August 5, 2011
♫ “Is there life on Mars?”
10 word description: Top-down sci-fi shooter; control 4 vehicles, upgrade, fight worms.
10 word review: Enjoyable, intense mini-RTS. Reckless approach can lead to a restart.
You will like this if you enjoy: RTS style gameplay in short missions without resource management or base construction.
The good news: A fairly original concept, concentrating on the exploring & fighting elements of an RTS. Graphics are pretty good, controls work well once you get used to them and there’s a definite challenge!
The bad news: If you opt for the control method where you tap the sides of the screen to switch modes, disabling the ‘double-tap’ option, you also disable the ability to scroll around the map with two fingers. I suspect this is a bug that will be corrected in an update.
More significant is a problem that I encountered where I managed to run out of credits and gimp my squad to the point where I was unable to beat any of the available maps. There are a couple of ways that this can happen – First, if you complete a map with less than 4 vehicles remaining, you have to pay to re-upgrade any vehicle that was previously upgraded. This can leave you with vehicles that are too weak to cope with the next map(s). You cannot return to a completed map to grind for credits so you can’t upgrade your vehicles. Second, if you swap out a heavily upgraded level 1 vehicle for a non-upgraded level 2 vehicle, the level 2 vehicle is surprisingly weak compared to the one you just replaced and you can’t go back to the previous vehicle without wasting a lot of credits.
This means that you have to win each level without losing any (upgraded) vehicles, quitting and restarting a level if you do lose a vehicle, to avoid unnecessarily spending your finite resource of credits. Also, don’t swap to a higher level vehicle unless you can immediately upgrade its health and weapon power, as it will otherwise be weaker than your current vehicle.
Arcadelife verdict: Once you accept that you have to play carefully and occasionally quit a level if you lose one or more vehicles, instead of “winning” and losing credits by re-upgrading, this is an enjoyable and engrossing experience. The time limit on some levels can be frustrating if you can’t locate the last enemy and you lose what would otherwise be a satisfying victory due to running out of time, so if you dislike time limits you may not enjoy that aspect of this game.
Unsurprisingly, Vermes on an iPad is a better overall experience than on the smaller devices because of the improvement in control precision when playing on a larger screen.
Arcadelife rating: 78/100
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0.0
Aztlan Games / Vermes on Mars website link