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The Mark Review

Genres: FPS
Year of Release: 2007
Developer: T7 Games
Publisher: JoWood
Review Date: 28-5-2009
Review Platform: PC
Review Region: AU Available In Australia
Est Playtime: 3.5+ hrs
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Review By: Bradley Beeck

Steve Fletcher, a US marine stationed in Iraq (I think), discovers a nuclear weapon during an inspection. A group of terrorists plan on detonating the bomb in London and realizing Fletcherís discovery Ďmarkí him for death. Austin Hawke, a british mercenary, is hired to protect Fletcher as he seeks to stop the terrorist plot.

the_mark013The Mark is one of those budget titles released by Jowood/Red Ant. I came across a demo of it more than a year ago and for some reason wanted to play the rest of it. Interestingly this game has been accused of ripping off the story from the novel Scarecrow by Australian author Matthew Reilly. Check it out here and here. Itís pretty damn similar from what I can see.

the_mark016The Mark is a run and gun shooter. So much so that I would even call it a shooting gallery. When entering an area enemies just come out of the wood work. The best course of action is to stay put and pick them off because they have a habit of coming in bursts. You might think thatís the last of them and then suddenly one will appear behind you. Getting shot in the back like that happens too often for my liking but thereís no look lean making it unavoidable. Health kits are in abundance and you can carry multiple kits although dying is still a frequent occurrence.

the_mark003The game offers players the unusually ability to play through as two characters: Hawke or Fletcher. Every 3 levels the game prompts for a selection between the two characters. Things then play out with different objectives and occasionally different paths. The levels are short averaging around 10 minutes. Each of the characters has different traits: Fletcher has a slow motion ability and Hawke extra armour, a shot gun and a vision mode that highlights enemies. Whatever the choice the other character will be there in the level fulfilling the role the player otherwise would have. For example in the first level Fletcher has to place explosives on some aircraft while Hawke protects him. I donít know why Fletcher had to do that because the game sure didnít tell me. I only knew I was supposed to do that because there was a red outline underneath the aircraft. The AI of your companion is dubious and he lags behind you, regularly disappearing only to reappear later. The odd occasion he went into a room first he had no problems taking down a few enemies. Heís also immortal so itís the least he could do.

the_mark024The Markís story is pure B grade; lacking in exposition and logic but plentiful in bad acting. The cutscenes are bad to the point of being occasionally funny. At one point a female marine (Fletcherís sister) is running away from the enemy and suddenly trips over. That ridiculous clichť was stupid before it was even invented. The general gist of the plot is that Fletcher has to save his sister and stop the terrorists from detonating a nuke in London. The way the terrorists transport the nuke there is fairly plausible but the way itís set up isnít. Why would Fletcherís inspection team let the weapon go? Why is Fletcher the only one trying to stop this plot, where are the British and American governments? I donít know. Thatís a sentence that describes a lot of this game.

the_mark014The graphics are pretty respectable and thereís nothing hideously ugly that stands out. The main menu takes an exceedingly long time to load. The save menu is also a little off because it wont let you select an empty save slot. You just have to type in a unique name to make sure you donít overwrite an existing save. The music, namely the main menu theme, is quite good. Itís much better than the other areas of the game.

The Markís gameplay is okay, itís like a shooting gallery with waves of enemies that need dispensing. However it doesnít explain its level objectives at all, making it worse than Lifesigns. The player has to be on the look out for red outlines if they want to finish the game. Along with this the story is completely B grade with bad cutscenes and a lack of exposition. The Mark is best left to an afternoon needing to be blasted away with a small dose of fun.