Get yourself some Space Marine!
Making an established universe seem interesting to anyone that isn’t familiar with it is an essential box to tick when making a game based on it. If the universe doesn’t seem interesting then people are likely to walk away from it, fortunately this is something that Space Marine smartly avoids by striking a perfect balance of explaining the basics, while assuming just the right amount of knowledge about the universe it is set in. Prior knowledge of the Warhammer 40K canon is not necessary to have a great time while playing this game as the mechanics powering it are just a ton of fun to experience.
The gameplay in Space Marine should be familiar to anyone that has played a third person shooter in the past few years. The big difference being that there isn’t a cover mechanic present, that does not mean you won’t be taking cover, making use of peek shooting is necessary, you’re just not pressing a button to actively get into and out of cover. You play as Captain Titus of the Ultramarines, if you need a comparison, then just think of what Spartans are to the Halo universe and you have an Ultramarine. These guys are the toughest of the tough and they have a great presence that is emphasised by the reactions of other characters throughout the game. You are deployed as part of a 3 man team of Ultramarines to safe guard a vital piece of equipment from falling into Ork hands (yep, Ork with a K) and the mere fact that sending three Ultramarines against literally an entire army gets the message across of how badass these dudes are.
What sets the action in Space Marine apart from other shooters is the sheer devastating impact everything you do has behind it. The action is a mix of Gears of War style shooting and brawler type melee attacks. You’ll begin the game a basic pistol and a huge knife as your melee attack, but soon enough you’ll encounter Ultramarine armaments, such as the Chainsword or battle axe. Every weapon in the game has a fantastic sense of impact behind it, they really sell the devastation you’re seeing on screen through the sound design and you really feel like you’re seriously messing dudes up when you fire the weapons in the game. This is just as true for the melee attacks, you have very simple combos for one on one confrontations and some for crowd control and when you stun an enemy you can hit a button to execute them. The animations on these executions are simply amazing, they do such a good job of convincing you of the raw power these Ultramarines possess and all of them look very painful. This is also the only way in which you can replenish your health, it would have been nice if the animations weren’t as overused as they are, but there is certainly something to be said for quality over quantity here.
The single player does suffer a little from repetition, you won’t be doing much else besides shooting Orks in the face. On the normal difficulty setting, it should take you around 7 hours to see it through to end and apart from a higher difficulty, there isn’t much incentive to play through it again. The action in the game is set out in a very straight forward manner, there’s always a bunch of dudes that need killing between you and where you need to be. There isn’t a ton of variety in the enemies you’ll be facing along the way, the Chaos army do look particularly fantastic though. You even get to fight Chaos marines and their leader has got to be one of the most imposing bosses seen in any game.
Space Marine does feel a bit like fan service for people who are really into the Warhammer 40K universe. However, you don’t need to have any experience with that universe to have a great time while playing Space Marine. The action is some of the most satisfying in any shooter to date and if you’re looking for a different spin on a third person shooter, then you should definitely give Space Marine a look.