Do yourself a big favor and avoid The Mark.
- The only winning move is not to play.
- Silly plot and lame dialogue that fails as cheese
- frustrating and repetitive gameplay
- the graphics can cause physical discomfort.
It would be so easy and tempting to describe how bad The Mark is by making some cute remark like, "The Mark is way off the mark," or "The lame gameplay is a black mark against The Mark." However, that takes more effort than this dreary, lackluster shooter from DreamCatcher and T7 Games deserves. Sure, it's a budget shooter, but that doesn't excuse the fact that it's a very bad game.
The Mark wants to be like a Hollywood-style buddy movie--in this case, a US Marine and a British mercenary who must team up to stop London from being nuked by terrorists. It's a fairly generic but passable plot device, but the game manages to get everything else wrong. The plot itself is overly contrived and makes no sense. For example, before they nuke London, the terrorists need to kill the marine and his sister because they're the only people who can identify the missile they plan to use. But wouldn't the missile be vaporized by the nuclear explosion? There's also the fact that the bad guy's father, a gazillionaire, finds out about the plot and wants to stop it. But instead of picking up the phone and calling, say, the British government, he hires a mercenary to protect the marine. Because as long as he's alive, the terrorists won't launch their missile because he could identify it!
But wait, there's more. The characters are like badly drawn caricatures. There's Steve "Fletch" Fletcher and Austin Hawke, a couple of manly hero names if there ever were any. They like to spout inane dialogue that's terribly delivered. They also fly around in a small, one-man jet, which apparently defies the laws of physics because the jet already has a separate pilot. At one point, the two heroes, their pilot, and the sister are all on board. There must be a lot of sitting on laps in there; how cozy.
The plot--as silly as it is--could easily have been overlooked if The Mark delivered a decent shooting experience, but it doesn't. This is a game that makes the act of shooting a gun a chore. As you advance through each level, you'll battle an almost endless stream of bad guys. Oftentimes the game "surprises" you by having them pop out of corners and cut you down without warning, but after the 20th or 30th such encounter, this gets old. So you'll die a lot, memorize the location of bad guys, and then get past a choke point on the third or fourth try. Getting through the game requires the frequent application of quicksave and quickload, as well as having the willpower to continue.
The Mark tries to mix things up by letting you choose which hero to play as throughout the game. This lets you experience a slightly different route through each level, but the differences between the characters are negligible. You can also play the campaign cooperatively with another player, though trying to find someone to play with online is going to be very difficult--but more on that later.
If you're looking at the screenshots, you may think that the game looks decent. Sure, there's a glossy slickness to surfaces, and some of the environments look interesting. However, the game falls apart when it's in motion and can cause eye strain because of the badly selected color palette, the poor frame rate, the jerky animations, and the over-the-top blur effect that you need to tone down to the absolute minimum to avoid migraines. The Mark constantly recycles the same character models, so each level basically has only three or four different bad guys, and you see the same guys all the time. The level design also gets old fast, particularly in an aircraft carrier where you have to open the door to compartment after compartment and wage a firefight in each one. Things get particularly bad in the aircraft carrier because the frame rate drops to a stutter on a high-end PC. The sound effects are completely generic, but they're the best part of the audio, as the voice acting is third-rate, at best.
When it comes to multiplayer, The Mark serves up the standard deathmatch mode, in addition to the aforementioned cooperative mode, as well as a map-control mode. However, you'll need luck trying to find other players online. This isn't a popular game, and considering the fierce competition for multiplayer shooters, that probably isn't going to change in the near future.
The Mark isn't a humorous or fun game in any sense of the words. It's also a tedious game that taxes your patience and your endurance. When you get down to it, there are simply far too many other shooters that you can spend your money on, and most of those will offer a more enjoyable and fun gameplay experience than The Mark.