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Digging the red planet with JCB Pioneer Mars

23 Nov 2017

British heavy machinery company, JCB, gets its arse to Mars.

My previous dealings with J.C. Bamford’s iconic yellow-liveried excavators includes having the Land Rover that I was charged with getting dragged out of a muddy construction site. It was a navigation mistake that resulted in both my cousin and I having to spend an afternoon hosing the excavator down to remove all the mud.

So, yeah, I know JCBs.

JCB Pioneer Mars comes across as part- Steam PC Early Access game and part-advertisement for the robust range of construction plant.

Base

Having crash-landed on the surface of Mars it’s down to you to and your trusty JCB rover to survive on the hostile planet. The Mars of this game is fraught with environmental hazard such as radioactive areas, corrosive storms, electrified dust devils and meteor showers.

First you need to get your base online. After that is all about resource collecting, and crafting. Hats off to the developer, JCB Pioneer Mars is some pretty grounded stuff. More science simulator than sci-fi game and, with the aid of the design team at JCB, the game really feels authentic.

As you start to expand your base with new biomes warehouses and landing pads, you also need to ensure they are properly powered and oxygenated. Here the game borrows from the likes of Sim City, adding a city-building flavour into the mix.

Diggers   

The visuals, which come courtesy of Epic’s Unreal Engine, provide a stunning Martian landscape to explore. The equipment, vehicles and other props have all been meticulously modelled. In fact, the whole package has a level of polish that is, unfortunately, getting less and less common in these early-access releases.

Whilst I appreciate what the developer is trying to do: tap into the survival game genre with a recognisable brand, there are other games that do it much better. The likes of its near-relatives, Osiris: New Dawn and especially Subnautica offer a more interesting and exciting environmental sandbox. But they are further on in the developmental process.

I did enjoy JCB Pioneer Mars, but mostly because of my fondness for the British construction vehicles. It still has a way to go, but I do look forward to watching the game as it progresses through the early access period to full release.

Verdict: 6.0/10     

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