War Logs takes place in the midst of a war between two guilds on a terraformed Mars who are trying to control water on the red planet. It opens with Innocence Smith being taken into a POW camp where he is nearly molested by revolting Butterbean impersonator. Another prisoner named Roy steps in and defends Innocence. As the player you take control of Roy and attempt to escape the POW camp with your new buddy Innocence. From there the plot meanders until Roy and company expose a technomancer threat that must be dealt with. War logs offers two different paths to it's conclusion and aside from Innocence there are a few other companions that fight at your side.
It doesn't take long before it becomes clear that War Logs is one of the most poorly written RPGs to be released in the past decade. While most RPGs do a commendable job of integrating their lore into the narrative and supplement the details with an in game encyclopedia. The dialogue itself is coarse and attempts to paint the game world as pulpy and nihilistic but instead provides some juvenile shock value, copious groan-worthy lines and chest puffing macho posturing. Also plaguing the experience is the lack of a well developed antagonist and clear motivations and goals for the characters. The plot just meanders on in an entirely directionless manner until you reach the abrupt and cobbled together conclusion.
Borrowing heavily from The Witcher 2, combat is involves a mixture of attacks, blocks, parries, dodge rools, special abilities, traps and items. Split second blocks result in parries which open enemies up for combos and mixing up your attack strings is necessary to prevent enemies from repelling your blows. Special attacks, like using your nail gun or techromancer abilities, can be set to hotkeys or accessed from a tactical menu that slows time and allows you to change your companion's combat behavior. You rarely fight a single enemy so learning to mix your abilities and attacks to handle multiple foes is key. Early on this is a rather frustrating design however since you have a very limited tool set to engage groups of enemies with. Also frustrating is the camera which can become ensnared in tight spots. Companions also help keep the heat off of your character but they are not terribly effective in combat, often dying. All in all the combat in War Logs is the most engaging thing it offers though not the most original.
Running on the Silk engine, War Logs is far more reminiscent of burlap in terms of it's visual appeal. The settlements of Mars are a homogenous blend of metal scraps and red dirt. Few areas offer distinct visuals and interiors are sparse. Three quarters of the residents of Mars are bald and scars are their only distinct features. Art direction is also miserable, one of the characters looks like an extra from Little House on the Prairie that managed to fall into an electrician's toolbox. The moles in the game look like uncircumcised quadruped phalluses with beaver teeth. Many of the interesting features of the martian settlements are above the camera's eye level and will most likely be missed by many players. Shadows are grainy and clothing textures have a dreadfully low resolution. Lip syncing is terrible and racial animations are limited to mouth movements resulting in unexpressive characters. Every now and then you will run into an area where the warm martian color pallete contrasts with cool green and blue hues creating an attractive setting. These areas are two few and far between to salvage the visual experience. Fortunately the music is inoffensive though not exactly memorable. Voice acting is much improved after a major patch which features a revised script and new vocal performances that amend what was one of the most atrocious voice overs since the Playstation era. Even still the characters fail to bring the shoddy script to life—a feat that is probably impossible anyway.
Posted: November 25th, 2013