stripesonfire's Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine (Xbox 360) review

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Tedium redefined

In modern gaming there's simply no longer an excuse for games as woefully poor as Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine to exist. Developed by Relic - a developer known for their excellent real-time strategy entries in the Warhammer 40,000 universe - in what is seemingly an attempt to capture an untapped market of Warhammer 40,000 and shooter fans who either don't have access to a gaming PC or have little interest in real-time strategy.

Unfortunately Relic have yet to prove themselves in any genre outside of real-time strategy and they've done everything they could possibly do wrong with Space Marine to prove that they should under no circumstances, ever try to develop anything even remotely resembling a third person action game. Space Marine is a dreadful, mind-numbingly dull mishmash of gameplay drawn from fantastic series such as Gears of War and God of War that does absolutely nothing right.

Gameplay consists of running through empty, barren areas devoid of anything interesting while heading to the next "onslaught" area where you'll be bombarded against hordes of pathetically weak enemies that only manage to cause any sort of damage due to overwhelming numbers. In fact, the gameplay is so easy that the only reason you'll ever really need to heal yourself is because of pesky long range enemies that whittle down your health as you try to dispose of the rest of the cannon fodder.

The health system in Space Marine is absolutely dreadful: you have a regenerating shield and a health bar that does not replenish under any circumstance unless you perform an execution move on a stunned enemy. It might sound like it would work in theory, but in practice it is completely broken and insanely frustrating. Most of the time you won't even need health, but when you do it's the time when you can't get any. It's kind of ridiculous that the only way to heal yourself is during combat. No checkpoints, no health packs, nothing. The only other way to replenish health outside of combat is if you activate your "fury" meter, which is an exact carbon copy of the "rage" abilities used by Kratos in the God of War games.

Combat is dull and consists of hammering on the X button, although you can stun enemies by tapping the Y button, and then finishing them off with an execution by pressing B if they have an icon floating above their head. There's really no point to any of it and any form of comboing is pretty much non-existent. You'll generally find yourself mindlessly hammering out attacks. After a while I grew tired of the brain-dead combat mechanics and simply began stunning enemies and executing them immediately, causing battles to end much quicker less they drag on even further.

You'll get access to a variety of weapons but none of them are very satisfying to use. You have a generic pistol with infinite ammo but it's incredibly weak and almost entirely useless. Same goes for the combat knife you begin with but that is quickly replaced by a more powerful chainsword, although it's much less fun to use than it sounds. There are other guns scattered throughout the game which serve as your generic infantry weapons, and you'd think in the year 40,000 they would be able to offer you something more exciting than the generic assault rifle, sniper rifle, and grenade launcher that exist in the modern day setting. Yes, Space Marine is based on an existing universe and these weapons exist in the Warhammer 40,000 lore, but when you have more exciting things like heavy bolters and plasma guns you'd think they'd offer these right off the bat and skip the same old generic boring weapons you get in every other shooting game.

Most unfortunately for Space Marine is that it's just not any fun. It makes a terrible first impression and it's a long-lasting one that never seems to ever dissipate. Shortly into the game you'll eventually get a jump pack which provides some brief entertainment but the section is incredibly short lived which provides little redeeming value when the rest of the game is so utterly void of interesting gameplay. It doesn't help matters much either that the story is absolutely uninteresting and that every character in the game is completely void of any sort of personality.

At the end of the day Space Marine ultimately amounts to an entirely dull experience that offers little more than point A to point B gameplay that has you doing absolutely nothing but sprinting with a terribly slow moving character to the next "area" where you'll get surrounded by enemies that has you doing absolutely nothing in between aside from occasionally pressing buttons to open doors. Truth be told, Space Marine's gameplay isn't far off from the entirely abysmal Thor: God of Thunder, released just a few months earlier.

Sure, the graphics are nice, and the music is actually pretty good when it's there, but good graphics and nice music don't really do anything to make this dreadfully dull action game any fun to play. When excellent action and third person shooter games like Bayonetta and Gears of War already exist there's little to no reason to care about this insanely insipid, experience. If you really want to play a Warhammer 40,000 game then check out the excellent Dawn of War series for the PC. Otherwise do yourself a favour and save your money. It's just not worth it to send the message to a developer known for making previously excellent strategy games that they should forgo their strengths to make piss-poor action games that offer absolutely nothing but tedium and woefully boring gameplay.


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