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Overview

Space Marines are soldiers that operate in and from space, and have become a common staple in military sci-fi themed video games and movies.   Space Marines typically engage in the role of ship defense and boarding operations, planetary assault operations, and other tasks that require some kind of military presence in space. Much of the inspiration for the space marine concept came from Robert A. Heinlein’s book, Starship Troopers. Though not specifically referred to as marines, the Mobile Infantry engaged in many tasks that are common for modern day space marines in fiction. Since id Software’s Doom in 1993, space marines have seen frequent use in video games, especially the First Person Shooter genre. Part of the reason space marines are used so often in video games is that they provide a convenient explanation as to why the player controlled character is on an alien planet with limited to no support. They are used so much in games, that they have become almost a cliché according to some critics.

Appearances in Games

Aliens Vs Predator

Games based on the movie Aliens typically has the player take control of, or fight against the United States Colonial Marines. The USCM also appears in games based on the Aliens Versus Predator property.
 

Doom

Doomguy in Doom 3
In the Doom series, the player takes control of an unnamed Space Marine forced to work for the Union Aerospace Corporation (UAC) on Mars, often referred to as " Doomguy." In the game, he battles against the forces of Hell who have somehow crossed over into our world. He returns in Doom II: Hell on Earth taking the fight to the demon occupied Earth, and again in Doom III, a retelling of the events in the first game.   

Warhammer 40,000

 A Dawn Of War style Space Marine
Games based on Games Workshop's Warhammer: 40,000 property, such as the Dawn of War series from Relic, feature the Imperial Space Marines and their Chaos counterparts, Chaos Space Marines. The Space Marines in this game are genetically enhanced super soldiers, and wear bulky power armor for protection. Space Marines in 40,000 draw many parallels to Knights in Warhammer fantasy, and have an almost blind devotion to the Emperor of mankind. Chaos Space Marines are their evil counterparts who betrayed the Emperor thousands of years prior.    

Halo

 A UNSC Marine, as they appear in Halo: Reach
The Halo series of video games features the fictional United Nations Space Command Marine Corps in every game in the series. Though technologically inferior to their alien nemesis, The Covenant, they still manage to hold their own in battle, and even gain the respect of some factions within The Covenant, such as the Elites. It is important to note that while legendary super soldier Master Chief fights along side the USNC Marines, he is considered Navy.  

Timesplitters

Timesplitters 2 and Time Splitters: Future Perfect features a protagonist known as Sergeant Cortez who is part of a Human Space Marine unit fighting a war against the alien TimeSplitters who, instead of invading Earth directly, attack humanity though the use Time Crystals to travel throughout time, altering Human history with the end goal of bringing earth to ruin in the present.    

Mass Effect

In Mass Effect, the Human System Alliance Military has its own Marine corps. They take heavy casualties during the Geth invasion of Eden Prime. Gunnery Chief Ashley Williams is part of the Alliance Marines who survives Eden Prime. She joins Commander Shepard's team as a potential love interest.   

Metroid

The Metroid series features the Galactic Federation Marine Corps, who at times aid Samus. They feature heavily into the story of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption.  

StarCraft

 Terran Marine comparison from StarCraft to StarCraft II
Blizzard Entertainment's StarCraft series features a playable human faction, known as the Terrans. The Terrans have a unit called the "Terran Marine," and serve as the backbone of the Terran Military. Marines in this game are typically culled from convicts or otherwise undesirables, though they aren't entirely made up of them. They wear Power Armor quite similar in form and function to the Marines in Warhammer 40,000. This includes limited life support systems and power assisted functions. 

Wing Commander

The Wing Commander games, though almost exclusively focused on flight combat, does feature a Marine Corps as part of the Terran Confederation.   

Star Wars

 A Galactic Marine
Games based in the Star Wars universe, especially those that take place during the Clone Wars feature Troopers who, while generally aren't specifically refereed to as "Marines," do many of the things typical space marines are known for. Though it is worth noting that there is a unit of Clone Troopers known as the Galactic Marines who have been seen in games that take place during Episode III, such as Star Wars: Battlefront II

Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard

Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard featured several different varieties of space marines. Since the game is largely a parody of different aspects of other video games, the space marines in the game are very stereotypical, wearing vibrant armor, wielding plasma weapons, shouting very trite phrases, and arriving on the battlefield via drop pods. The game also features a parody of Master Chief, which is a pun on his name, Master Chef. 


Non-fictional Space Marines

Project Hot Eagle is a program currently being planned by the United States Marine Corps. The goal is to develop a means of transporting squads of marines anywhere on the planet through space within 2 hours. If green lighted, it could become the first non-fictional instance of space marines in history.
 

Similar

  • Power armour suits similar to those that some types of marines wear are becoming more of a reality. This can be seen in Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Solider, were some of the different classes have powered armour suits that grant them increased speed, strength, or act as a firing platform for weapons.
  • The Bald Space Marine is a sub-cliche within the space marine cliche. They are often bald, or have very short cropped hair cuts.

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