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Surviving Mars: Space Race

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Surviving Mars: Space Race Game Poster Image
Mars colonization gets competitive in strategy expansion.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Features strong themes of exploration, problem-solving, survival. Challenges players to focus on needs and desires of others, using ingenuity, creativity balanced with practical solutions. This expansion also brings new mechanics focused on negotiating with, competing against others.

Positive Role Models & Representations

While there's little overall character development, as you're taking on role of administrator to a vast colony, there's a positive spin put on desire (and need) to explore new frontiers, focus on how various countries are working toward same goals.

Ease of Play

Requires a lot of micromanagement and multitasking. In-game tutorials barely scratch surface of what's needed to play, leaving steep but not insurmountable learning curve. Addition of rival colonies brings with it new layers of gameplay, including stress of outpacing your opponents for milestones while negotiating beneficial deals with others.

Violence

No graphic violence, but potentially grim fates await your colonists. They may die from things like malnutrition or even suicide, falling over dead and vanishing. Colonies may also occasionally come under attack from rivals, shown in-game visually through explosions and attack animations.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Occasional references in game's text to colonists drinking and getting drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Surviving Mars: Space Race is an expansion to the sci-fi strategy/simulation game Surviving Mars, and is available for download on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Mac, Windows-, and Linux-based computers. The expansion continues the player's interplanetary quest to create and maintain a colony on the surface of the Red Planet. Space Race adds some extra layers to the game, with new sponsors, buildings, and abilities. There's a lot of micromanagement and multitasking required to play and very little in the way of helpful tutorials, resulting in a steep learning curve. Colonies can come under attack by rival corporations, and colonists can die if their needs are not met, though neither situation is graphically shown. There are also occasional comments about colonists drinking or getting drunk, though nothing's ever shown.

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What's it about?

SURVIVING MARS: SPACE RACE continues humankind's journey to colonize the Red Planet, a journey first started in Surviving Mars. This new expansion to the sci-fi strategy game brings with it a host of new units, new challenges, and now, new rivals. Players aren't the only ones vying for control of Mars' resources, with brand-new colonies springing up to steal their thunder. Work with these new settlements to prosper together, negotiating trade routes, diplomatic relations, and exchanges of both resources and ideas, or race for glory against these new AI rivals. It's up to you to stake your claim to various milestone accomplishments, etching your name forever in the history books ... or possibly fall behind and be nothing but a footnote. 

Is it any good?

They say that space can be a very lonely place, but it's about to get a little less so with this strategy expansion set on the Red Planet. Surviving Mars: Space Race brings a new sense of urgency to the colonization of Mars, as you're no longer the only fish in the proverbial pond. The other AI-controlled colonies are also looking to blaze their own trails and reach the same milestones as you. Get beat to the punch, and you're locked out -- after all, you can't be first if you come in second place. It's a fun new mechanic that injects a competitive spin on the single-player game. It also adds a new level of complexity (and a touch of added anxiety); not only are you trying to balance the needs and desires of your own growing colony, but you're racing against other colonies to prove your mettle. It's that extra shot of adrenaline that the game needs to help keep it from getting stale.

New rivals aren't the only thing Surviving Mars: Space Race expands on. Each sponsor, including the two new additions of Japan and Brazil, has added its own unique vehicle and building to the mix, as well as its own unique set of Challenges to overcome. This gives players a reason to try out the other factions, testing out new abilities while using new tactics and strategies to meet the sponsors' goals. And just when you think everything is running like a well-oiled machine, new special events pop up to toss a monkey wrench in the works. The choices players make to resolve these situations not only have an immediate effect on the colony but can also have ramifications later down the road. Some may be positive, like an increase in skilled workers or income, while others can be negative, resulting in low morale among the colonists or worse. These unexpected plot twists keep things fresh and add a little more background to the lives of your settlers. It all comes together to make Surviving Mars: Space Race a great reason to revisit the Red Planet and to make the planet home once more.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about space exploration. What advances in science have been made to bring us closer to settling on other planets? What would be some of the benefits to expanding beyond the boundaries of Earth? What are some of the potential hazards?

  • How can simulation games like Surviving Mars help to prepare younger gamers for managing tasks in the real world?

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