«No one wants to buy me for a handful of cereals! »
- Random woman in BazaarMarauder
, also known as Man of Prey, is a title which has a very soft spot in my gamer heart. There are some minor bugs, the story cutscenes are constantly freezing on modern systems and some ethical elements in the story indeed leave you behind with a raised eyebrow.
But if you've got a thing for turnbased strategy games like Jagged Alliance 2
or Marauder's spiritual predecessors Brigade E5
or 7,62 High Calibre
, then this game is totally for you. Because of its appealing post-apocalyptic setting even fans of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.
or the Metro
series may take a look at this game.
The story, based on the same-named novel by Russian writer Berkem al Atomi, keeps you hooked for about 30 hours and is pretty unique. You control Akhmet, a Russian muslim and former army sapper, through the outskirts of a deserted city south of the Ural mountains. After a Russian political approach to NATO and the west, the US Army invades Russia under the pretext of a Peacekeeper Mission. The huge country therefore falls into chaos and soon anarchy spreads out. Akhmet and his lovely wife must now try to survive through this indeed chaotic cluster♥♥♥♥. As the game title already suggests, Akhmet does so in looting and fighting off bandits, stray dogs, corrupt policemen and even foreign soldiers. Interestingly Akhmet is not a good guy
in the proper sense. He doesn't really care for the wellbeing of other dwellers or to bring justice all over the city. He only takes care of his family and its survival - whatever the cost. Soon he begins to fortify his apartment block against enemy raids...
Like in 7,62 High Calibre you control Akhmet from above and you can pause the game at all times. While the game is paused you can plan your next moves and give Akhmet (and later his companions) commands. Rather than taking away Action Points like in Jagged Alliance 2, all your actions require a certain amount of seconds, which will be counted down as soon as you un-pause the game. This gameplay element, called the Smart Pause Mode, may take a while to get used to it but works perfectly as soon as you progress. Once you also get your proper equipment the combat sequences are a blast - I've seldomly cheered so much while Vitek, our pro sniper in the team, scores another yet perfect headshot from hundreds of yards away. On top of that there is also a fancy skill system and upgradable character parameters. After levelling up you can invest points in better accuracy, stamina, barter skills or whatever comes in handy. The inventory, also similar to the one from the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series, is pretty simple and self-explanatory. In the Bazaar, the local city market, you can trade further equipment and even upgrade your weapons. Also note that, similiar to the Metro series, the local main currency in Marauder are 5.45x39mm cartridges, colloquially called «fives».
Even if all this suggests that Marauder is an open-world game, it sadly isn't. In fact the game is pretty linear and you move from one section to another while regularly returning to your house and the Bazaar. I wish the developers would had implemented more city sections back then, but even then it's an already quite immersive world.
What really ♥♥♥♥♥♥ me off is that the fancy story cutscenes always freeze on modern systems. This is already a well-known problem and nobody really knows how to fix it. Once again, it's an absolute impudence that the current publisher didn't give a ♥♥♥♥ about fixing all these problems before releasing this game on Steam. Furthermore there are a couple of other bugs and sudden crashes, but those are pretty minor or rather quite uncommon from my point of view.
Either way, please make sure to do the following steps before playing the game:
#1 If you've got a large monitor, adjust your resolution according to this guide
#2 Adjust the poor camera controls according to this guide
#3 Fix the grenade launcher reloading bug according to this guide
#4 Please read Tin Tim's fantastic Let's Play Guide
while playing. There you can watch all story cutscenes that don't work in the game itself
! Furthermore it provides you with excellent hints and not too much spoilers.
+ Quite detailed graphics
+ Immersive world and creepy Eastern Bloc atmosphere
+ Innovative story
+ Awesome combat
+ Lots of weapons (unfortunately not many NATO guns)
+ Good skill, trade and inventory management
+ Loot, loot and even more loot
- Pretty linear
- Some slowdowns during combat
- The final sections of the story are quite unpolished
- Those above mentioned bugs
-- Story cutscenes not working on modern systems! Argh!
To put it in a nutshell, this game really grows on you if you love turnbased tactical games with lots of guns and a post-apocalyptical setting. It still has its minor flaws, but the rewarding combat system just does it for me. Period.9/10«The Democrats are to blame!»
- Random man in Bazaar, philosophizing about the cause of war