Well what a hidden gem this game was. I nearly didn't bother buying it as I was put off by the association implied by "Take On", as I wasted money on the godawful Take On Helicopters (Sorry, but it is).
Anyhoo, this game, even it's its early access form, is one of the most original, unique and strangely engrossing games I have come across. The only other game that has really attempted something similar is Mars Colony Challenger, and that isn't too bad considering it's a one man job. TOM takes it to the next level, with great visuals, a wealth of information, atmosphere and good old relaxing gameplay.
The single player Space Program game will not be for everyone. In it's early stages it basically consists of launching increasingly advanced probes and landers on Mars to gather scientific information. If you complete a mission you get extra cash and funding, used to create or research more advanced tech such as Rovers etc. It can get a little repetitive but you will learn more about Mars in a couple of hours of gameplay than you thought possible. Some of the missions are quite challenging, and instructions can be a tad unlear, but when you get it right, it's satisfying. When controlling landers and rovers there is a real sense of reality about it.
The second stage of the single player is the manned mission. Where you have to survive on Mars while conducting missions etc. You need to mine resources, build your base, so on and so forth.I have not started this stage yet, but I am assuming it somewhat similar to multiplayer.
Multiplayer is where the game shines like a Martian sunrise, but it's also a bit of a dust storm at present too. The basic premise is players work together to build their colony. It is in it's initial release, so expect more depth to be added, such as the survival mechanics and resource gathering being required. When it is fully fleshed out, you will have one incredible sim which will encourage some great cooperative gameplay. Multiplayer games can also be saved to all clients, not just the host. Allowing for continuing session play on your favorite base/project.
Multiplayer is flawed though. A severe lack of server commands for the host is just one problem. There is no way to kick players, and there are some idiots out there. They will spoil all your hard work, build crap you dont need, drive off in vehicles, change what you have constructed or just be general pains in the ♥♥♥♥. As well as a kick/ban function, the game lacks any means to remove items you dont require or make by accident. Often your well planned base can end up looking like a junkyard. Also, the object count can seriously impact framerates, so the less rubbish around, the better. There is also no way for the host to "lock" items in place. Whixh means that any idiot with a tool can tear things apart or adjust constructions that you have spent time building to your own design. It should be possible to disable the tool function for other players as seen fit, or to mark a construction as "locked" or "complete" etc so that no changes can be made without the host consent. As far as I am concerned, the host is the guy in charge of the mission, and should have the controls to achieve that.
All that being said, multiplayer is freaking awesome when you get a couple of good players. A random player joined my game and we spent hours constructing a base complete with control center, observatory and raised landing pad. We had an encircling balcony on the control center which was just missing some patio furniture. It was very satisfying, especially as we built most of it in the dark and didn't really know what we had accomplished until sunrise. Unfortunately the game then became somewhat unplayable due to the large number of objects. We felt like we were walking in slow motion and it took so long to accomplish anything else that we called it a day. Hopefully this issue will be addressed and improved by the Devs. Multiplayer is still in it's intitial release of course, but it's a good initial release.
The Dev team is very active, and take a lot of interest in their players. They obviously have a passion for this game that I am certain will see it constantly improving all the way to full release. They are not trying to milk cash from an early access game like some, and the price you pay for the game at present is more than worth it.
All in all I am rating this a 9/10. Innovative, interesting and well supported. Buy it! Just buy it.