I was initially a little confused when I saw that The Great Martian War, a sci-fi tinged endless runner for Android, was presented by The History Channel. Unless I’m greatly mistaken, trench-based warfare between human soldiers and H.G Wells-inspired Martian tripods isn’t on historical record. Would’ve made History classes in school a little more exciting, mind.
But no, I’ve since been told that The History Channel doesn’t produce exclusively historical content – it also dabbles in elements of science fiction, the speculative unknown, and conspiracy theories – and that The Great Martian War is one of their flagship shows. Essentially, it’s a blend of First World War history and a classic Martian invaders narrative.
Run first, think later
This Android tie-in keeps things light on the history front – after all, this is an endless runner, not a genre known for its powerful storytelling – but it’s clear that plenty of care and attention has gone into it. It’s a 3D runner in which you tap and swipe to dodge, duck, and leap over obstacles in a control setup which recalls Temple Run. But what really sets apart The Great Martian War is its atmosphere. Unlike any runner I’ve played before, this game captures a genuine feeling of against-all-odds heroism in every run, a feeling of being bogged down by insurmountable force, of every step leading to greater danger. Of course, that’s how any thematically-sound endless runner should feel; it’s a genre in which death is an eventual inevitability, so we should be made to feel doomed throughout.
War is tough
Plus, in a genre full of tireless superhumans, The Great Martian War’s protagonist feels comparably vulnerable. Don’t get me wrong, the guy can still keep up a steady pace of running for ridiculously long distances – it would kind of break the game if he couldn’t – but he also reacts to injuries in a relatively human way. He begins to painfully hobble along when he receives a glancing blow from an obstacle (a full-on collision kills him outright), and it takes a little while for him to recover. Imagine being an injured soldier, compelled to keep moving forward on a battlefield which becomes more and more treacherous with every metre. Imagine having to deal with trenches, barbed wire, land-mines, and massive, imposing Martian tripods. Sounds pretty hectic, doesn’t it? Well, you’ve just imagined an average run on The Great Martian War.
Living on Rations
There are, of course, two forms of currency strewn about the battlefield in The Great Martian War. There are orange ration packs, full of good ol’ human stuff for you to spend on upgrades, alongside blue ration packs, full of advanced Martian technology which allows you to revive yourself for another chance after death. Very useful for reaching the higher distances.
There’s also stuff for you to spend your own cash on, ranging from $0.99 to $49.99. Very unobtrusive, though.
The invasion ends
All in all, it’s just a very generous package. While I can’t accurately say whether or not it’s a faithful tie-in to the TV show (I’ve never watched it), this is a well-themed game with a feeling of real quality. For free, you owe it to yourself and your Android to grab it.