Just sit back and enjoy the awesome
Relic entertainments first action/shooter title has hit the shelves and it is pretty freaking awesome. The developers previous titles; Homeworld, Company of Heroes, and Dawn of War have all been expertly made strategy games and that level of quality has carried over to Space Marine.
For starters it is clear that Relic takes the Warhammer 40k universe as seriously as Games Workshop, and in this case that's a good thing. The fiction is unapologetically bad ass in an 8th grade kind of way and relic captures that. The button to open a door? A fucking skull. Where is the planetary defense cannon? In the fucking Gun Fortress. What should we call the grenade launcher? The Vengeance Launcher. None of this is done tongue-in-cheek and for this game it totally works. Stupid ass shit that would make me roll my eyes in any other context gets me fucking psyched in Warhammer.
The audio in Space Marine is probably the best feature, the voice acting is great, whenever present the music is appropriate to the situation and the sound effects are top of the line. The weapons in particular make a noise that will just draw you in, from the heavy thudding fire of a Bolter to the high pitched scream of the Chainsword to the ever satisfying crash of the Thunder Hammer.
The graphic are very sharp and the game has a great look to it. Space Marine is a little too much like the standard third person shooter in a dusty sandy wasteland, but there is no other way to build those levels given the parameters of the story. The animations of the characters are, for the most part, of a high quality. The only problems that I see are the execution animations can get a little repetitive and do not always fit with the environment (you often find yourself throwing an enemy into a wall, in a bad way) and enemies do not have any reaction to being wounded, only being killed. This took me out of the action a little, I would aim down the sights of my big bad-ass gun, hear the heavy shot, feel the strong kick.....and see a red splash on my target and an Ork acting like nothing happened.
Short, only about 7 hours, and more than a little cliched but it is well paced and keeps you invested. The levels have mostly the same look to them but the layouts and enemy varieties give you incentive to change weapons and tactics to address new challenges.
And now on to the biggest issue, how does it play?
The shooting feels solid, the melee attacks are really satisfying and the execution method of health regeneration is a great mechanic for making the player take a balanced approach to the combat, and not allowing you to sit back and let your Power Ax get rusty. This can get frustrating from time to time in that you still take damage during an execution animation, so you can be in the process of saving yourself and still get killed, but the check pointing in the game is up to par and you usually won't have to recover large chunks of a level. However, if you are an achievement junkie....well.....let's just say that several of Space Marine's are frustrating as all hell.
Surprisingly good, there are two game types, a "team deathmatch" mode and a "capture the location" mode. You only get to choose between two factions, the Space Marines or the Traitor Legions (the game randomly assigns factions for each mach) and each has the same three classes; tactical, heavy weapons, and assault. But as much as people would have loved to play as Orks or Eldar this way the game is simpler and easily balanced.
All in all I think Warhammer 40k: Space Marine brings a lot to the table for fans of both Warhammer and Shooters, and I can't wait to play some more.