ursus_veritas's Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team (Xbox 360 Games Store) review

Worthy of the Emperor's finest

Whilst initial thoughts surrounding THQ's Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team's announcement seemed that the game would serve very little outside of its tie-in to the upcoming Relic Third Person Shooter Space Marine, and given little fanfare outside of its unveiling (not even for its release) it would seem like the game was just set to meekly walk under the release radar - however, THQ have delivered a surprisingly addictive and satisfying dual stick shooter in Kill Team that works incredibly well for the 40K franchise: No game until now - and maybe until Space Marine hits this September - has really given you the feeling of being a member of the eponymous Space Marines in such a gratifying manner. 
 
Kill Team takes place in the Grim future of the 41st Century - UK-based Games Workshop's brutal and futuristic Warhammer 40,000 setting - where, as the slogan goes, 'there is only war'. Placed in the role of one of 4 Space Marines (A Melee-focused Vanguard Veteran, the ranged focused Sternguard Veteran, the Psychic power wielding Librarian, or the Jack of all trades Tech Marine), the player must fight their way through an Ork 'Kroozer', a massive flagship heading towards an Imperial manufacturing world - a Forge World - and disable it before the Ork hordes can invade the planet. However, all is not as it seems aboard the ship, and soon the Space Marines find themselves facing a far more deadlier threat than they imagined, in the form of the alien Tyranid swarm, which is also infesting the ship. Whilst Kill Team's story isn't anything to particularly write home about, the pace at which it propels you across the game is certainly to be commended, and despite the lack of real storytelling meat, it's a serviceable frame for the game to set itself upon.  

I hope you like purging heretical Xenos, Brother. Because you'll be doing it an awful lot. 
 Where Kill Teams shines is the solidity of its dual stick shooter combat. Almost suprisingly, the blend of dual stick shooting and melee combat works well for the 40K setting, which often involves massive hordes of enemies facing off against a few powerful defenders. Kill Team's well designed gameplay emphasises the strength of the Space Marines as individuals, rather than the squads seen in Space Marine, or the armies of the Dawn of War franchise - which gives the player a great sense of empowerment as they head into a charge towards swathes of Orks and Tyranids, all guns blazing and cutting bloody gashes in them with melee attacks. That's not to say, however, that the game is a cakewalk - the large amount of enemies you face off against, with a mixed variety between ranged or melee focuses and overall strength, means that strategy is required as well, especially when facing the game on your own. It pays to be able to judge how long you need to keep a powerup that, say, gives you a health regeneration effect before you use one that gives you a bonus to ranged damage, or throws up a shield blocking enemy projectiles - and more often than not, Kill Team plays to this careful juggling of powerups, placing many in one area whilst you face down waves of enemies, and forcing you to think how and when to use them to best fit the monsters your currently facing. Adding another layer to the gameplay is the ability to unlock more and more powerful gear for your various Marines to improve their damage output, as well as a Perk System (unlocked based on the amount of kills you achieve, or the length of your combos) to even further strengthen your character, with bonuses like a bigger health bar, more melee damage, or a longer duration on your special attack. Although the objectives of the game rarely differ - you're either destroying a number of devices/positions whilst holding off waves of enemies, or just standing your ground in one area as the hordes move in - the satisfaction given by the combat is more than enough to encourage you to press on through the 3 to 4 hours Kill Team's campaign lasts (or even further with the wave based survival mode and story co-op - although the co-op is disappointingly restricted to 2 player Local. In this day and age, it almost feels like online co-operative play is a standard feature for titles with co-op, so the decision made by THQ is utterly bizarre).  
    
Although minor, the ability to tweak and customise your individual Marine is a welcome extra depth. 
 Despite only having one setting in the Ork ship, Kill Team does a good job of keeping the visual presentation very well done. Although the single location does mean the Ork-ish aesthetic is consistently present, THQ have done a good job with a fantastic usage of lighting to keep each level feeling a little different from the others - although at some points (sometimes incredibly effectively, but a few times its just annoying) it does stick a little too close the 40K's 'Grim Darkness', leaving it a little too dark and making it hard to see enemies. The visual flair of being able to choose from a range of Space Marine chapters (such as the famous Ultramarines, or the Blood Ravens of Dawn of War 1 and 2) to personalise your character is also a nice touch, and both the player and enemy models are reasonably well detailed and varied - which is shown off even more so every so often with the final kill of an enemy in the area treating you to a zoomed in slo-mo shot of their body flying to the floor. Kill Team is also surprisingly cinematic for a dual stick shooter - from the gorgeous-but-short CGI intro, to the various little cutscenes to introduce new objectives and boss opponents, and the constant vocal presence of your Commander spouting typical Space Marine rhetoric (expect to be told 'And they shall know no fear!' plenty of times) give the game a high quality presentation. Whilst the soundtrack, perhaps typically of the 40K franchise, isn't particularly memorable, it still has a solid, orchestral presence throughout the game that adds another quality layer to the overall product.  
 
Impressive model details and fantastic lighting throughout give Kill Team a great look despite the lack of setting variety. 
Given the overall strength of Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team, It's surprising to see that THQ have put it out with very little fanfare. 40K fans gearing up for September's Space Marine will want to get this for the in-game weapon included as well as the grand dedication to Games Workshop's universe, but you don't necessarily have to be a fan of the tabletop franchise to enjoy it. For 800 MSP (or $10 dollars), Kill Team offers a good few hours of well made shooter fun, even moreso if you can find a local friend to bring along too - and offers a nicely presented and thoroughly satisfying look into the power of the mighty Space Marines. 
2 Comments
Posted by redlitez76

great review it really sold the game. did you find the camera angles a little maddening sometimes?

Posted by sins_of_mosin

Game is more fun and longer then a lot of $60 games.

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