Stalin vs. Martians

The Red Army meets the Red Planet -- what can go wrong? We give you a play-by-play of this ambitious RTS.

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Mezmer Games Stalin vs. Martians
  • Mezmer Games Stalin vs. Martians
  • Mezmer Games Stalin vs. Martians
  • Mezmer Games Stalin vs. Martians

Pros

  • Clever idea and art design

Cons

  • Terrible, buggy execution that's nearly unplayable

Bottom Line

On paper, this game sounds like a million dollar idea. It's campy and hilarious in a good way. But it sounds like it just doesn't work in theory. In hindsight, combining ruthless aliens with a mass-murdering dictator probably wasn't such a good idea.

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00:00:00
greyscale: Been reviewing too many big-budget games, lately; was assigned Stalin Vs. Martians earlier today in a nice change of pace. Looking forward to something new and original from the indie crowd.

00:05:00
greyscale: Installing Stalin Vs. Martians as I type this — love the box-art, press release and the tongue-in-cheek sensibility surrounding it. Really hoping the game can live up to its premise - but how can you mess up Communism and aliens? Booting up, now...

00:10:00
greyscale: Just began the campaign and... am quite confused. Not "quirky, zany" confused — just confused. Stalin Vs. Martians has a standard RTS lay-out, graphics aren't anything to write home about, and constant blaring Euro-Trance music is giving me a bit of a headache. After dying a few times, resorted to the five-page .PDF manual. Didn't find any instructions on how to play the game other than directions on rotating the camera and unit descriptions. Probably missing something incredibly obvious — I'll boot it up again.

00:30:00
greyscale: Finished my first mission by selecting units, randomly clicking the "Attack" button, then watching Stalin's army gun down barrages of neon Martians. Dead Martians leave behind giant coins, used to buy reinforcements or get temporary power-ups (health restore, speed up, armor upgrade, etc.) Called in an entire army of Red Army tanks before taking down large, three-eyed Martians and apparently beat the level. Tutorial stage, maybe? We'll see.

00:50:00
greyscale: Frustrated. Constant frame-rate drops and slide-show presentation are really hampering the... experience. Tried to change the resolution, but only accessible options are minuscule changes such as "Invert Mouse" and "Do You Like Cats?" My feline appreciation doesn't seem to make the game run any smoother. Units don't seem to go where I want them to go, and constant, repetitive one-liners are making my eyes twitch. One option I can appreciate is toggling the volume off.

02:00:00
greyscale: Am currently positive that my units are either suicidal or simply against me, as no matter what command I issue (out of all four of them) they rarely listen, turning themselves into alien cannon-fodder. Don't know when the "strategy" aspect of this strategy game will come into play, as I've just been pointing and clicking at things I want dead rather relentlessly since installation.

03:00:00
greyscale: Spent a king's ransom on reinforcements for latest mission, who all willingly charge directly into enemy fire. Tried again, this time with "Soviet Anthem" and "Rage" buffs. I think they died even more quickly, somehow. Am currently wondering if Stalin Vs. Martians is actually a game or a cruel joke. Still, music video cutscenes give me time to rest my "point, click and kill" finger. Don't know if that's a valid "plus", but marking it up as a pro.

05:00:00
greyscale: Lost track of time. Have spent most of the game's campaign waiting for enemies to attack my army as I stare longingly out of my apartment window, hoping my army somehow accidentally completes a primary or secondary objective. Thinking if I disconnect speakers, repetitive Russian techno music will stop haunting me. Giving up for the night — will boot up game tomorrow with copious amounts of coffee.

07:00:00
greyscale: Night's rest and all the caffeine I could handle isn't making this game any more enjoyable. "Repetitive" is the understatement of the century, as I haven't done anything but point, click and wait for hours on end. Also discovered that my army does better when I'm *not* commanding it, as they attack enemy threats on their own — but only when they feel like it. Starting to understand why Communism was such a hot topic. Framerate is still suffering, by some unholy miracle, and find myself skipping music videos in hopes of just finishing the game.

??:??:??
greyscale: Officially throwing the towel in and uninstalling the game. No clue what Stalin Vs. Martians was trying to accomplish, and by this thoroughly exhausted, caffeine-addled point, I really don't care, as I'm not going to get the past few days back. Charming idea met with terrible execution, deep fried in repetitive, unresponsive gameplay, more bugs than an ant farm and served with constant, nonsensical lag. Would like to end this with a witty comment or biting satire, but still absolutely boggled by how such a clever (is that the right word?) idea could go so horribly, horribly wrong.

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