Warhammer 40K Space Marine: For the Emperor.
Warhammer 40K is an expansive universe that was originally only a tabletop game, which eventually expanded into a fully-fledged RTS videogame for the PC. Given this fact, Space Marine gives the players, fans and people who just want to rip apart hordes of Orks a chance to be one of the series most iconic soldiers, as the title may have tipped you off, a Space Marine.
The game begins on a soaring high note of action, setting up the tone nicely for the games over the top ideas. You play as Captain Titus of the Ultramarines, leading his squad of allies onto a planet in order to secure powerful weapons, but upon entering the atmosphere, the transport you’re currently riding gets damaged. This leads Titus to improvise, in the only logical way he possibly can...but strapping on a jetpack and jumping out of the ship. Though his youngest squad-mate, whose name I forget because he’s a spitfuck, disagrees with Titus’ actions, it gives the player an insight into the mindset of the Captain, along with being a badass opening sequence to the game. When on the ground, the squad has to cut through hordes of Orks in order to make it to the facility holding the super-weapons they need to secure. Along the way, you’ll run into Imperial Guardsmen, led by Lieutenant Mira, who you must help in order to achieve your goals. The stakes constantly rise, and the game always finds a new way of placing obstacles in your path, enemy-wise, which increases in difficulty as the game progresses. At six hours, this isn’t what you’d call a long title, with game time only being extended by the constant deaths caused by hordes of overwhelming enemies when you screw up your tactics. Though each level is diverse enough to let the player ignore the short play time, but even so, in this case, more would have been appreciated.
The mechanics of the game are simple, but effective. You have a melee weapon, along with four guns, each type having their own slot. These range from pistols, machine guns and grenade launchers, to sniper rifles and heavy bolters. The melee weapons range from the iconic chainsword to power axes, even throwing in Thunder Hammers to make things interesting. Every weapons serves a tactical purpose, and you simply can’t run in to the fight guns blazing or melee weapon swinging, because you have a shield and health bar to think about. The shield can take a good pounding from long-range weaponry, but in close-quarters, you’ll lose it fairly fast, leaving your health exposed. This isn’t the end of you though, because you can stun enemies, and then execute them for a health restoration, via a small QTE. This provides another layer of reaction-like strategy that you’ll be thankful for as the more difficult enemies are usually escorted by a small legion of weaker, but still dangerous enemies. On top of this, the more enemies that fall to your Space Marines mighty boot, the more a gauge at the bottom of the screen will fill. When full, this meter can be activated to make you temporarily stronger, and tougher. It also gives you the ability to execute enemies whether they are stunned or not. This is handy for the extremely powerful melee enemies whose attacks are devastating. There is a downside though: the aiming and movement mechanics are sluggish, with both being jumpy at random times. Often, the player will be running, aiming to turn a simple corner, and end up running straight into a wall, sometimes, this won’t happen at all, so apart from being highly confusing, it also gets frustrating when the player attempts to traverse a level quickly. Aiming, even with melee weapons, is a finicky endeavour, as the game never really lets the player aim on their own, sometimes even breaking the flow of combat so the player misses a desperately needed execution, as a larger, angrier looking enemy runs towards them, intent on making a gesture of their own of which to mark you with.
Graphically this game is excellent, sporting some amazing backgrounds and detailed character models. However, the design of the levels is by far the biggest opposing force to its graphical prowess, not really giving the player anything but grey and brown level design, adding red, purple and blue to the palette when a new enemy type emerges. The enemy variation is somewhat difficult to both praise or criticize, as the orks have several different variations to their army, but you won’t really notice, as they all look roughly the same, just given different weapons. The chaos army have some nice differences between units, but they, much like the orks, wear out their welcome quickly. The game makes good use of lighting as it affects the atmosphere of a particular situation. Blood is something this game isn’t short of, as enemies erupt in geyser-like explosions when you cut then down, or use an execution move, which also covers Titus in gore. It’s nice to have detail of this quality in a game like this.
The sound quality is a mixed bag, with swelling music and the sound of chainswords ripping through enemy’s mushy-parts, the player will always feel immersed in the universe. However, the positives are outshined by the lack of any real in-game dialogue bar the few obligatory sentences the Orks may yell, like “Space Murine!” which I can only assume at this stage is their battle-cry, along with some rather bland ranged-weapon sounds that never really seem to coincide with the weapons damage capabilities. It shows a certain lack of polish when the audio track consists of the same in-game sounds for the game’s duration, and is a real let-down, but not something noticeable, at least until the three-quarter mark of the game.
Multiplayer is another feature that Space Marine offers, after the main campaign. Players can choose between Space Marines or...Chaos Space Marines...diversity right there. The modes are somewhat barren, with any real action taking place on team deathmatch games. Games are also played through a host connection, so expect severe lag and annoyance when first entering a game with a shitty host. The mode does allow you to gain XP per kill, and each weapon has specific XP granting challenges attached to them to complete, which in turn unlock more weapons, classes and armour variants. There are also three classes: Tactical, Devastator and Assault, though assault is unlocked after a few ranks. Unfortunately, as seems to be a running theme with this game, the idea is implemented badly, only allowing access to armour variants, which one could argue is the cornerstone of the entire Warhammer franchise, after a certain number of ranks are achieved. Even then, matches can be extremely one sided as players will often pick Assault classes with jump-jetpacks, making them difficult to damage and deadly at close range, which they can close without breaking a sweat. The imbalance is apparent from minute one of entering a match, and there is simply no fun in choosing a heavy weapon for a somewhat effective defense, or an Assault class to combat your enemy’s assault class with. This really takes away from what could have been an excellent multiplayer mode. The map design is average, but difficult to traverse, as I don’t believe the developers realised that eight-foot-tall armour clad, genetically enhanced soldiers might be a little cumbersome when it comes to moving across long distances.
Overall, Space Marine is a solid game, but is disappointing, as its mechanics feel dated and sluggish at times. That’s not to say that the game isn’t fun, or action-packed, a lot of interesting ideas went into this game, but the severe lack of length in the campaign, the underachieving multiplayer aspects, and the sheer audacity of a developer to lock customization until a specific rank, drags the game into the slums, while beating it with sticks, and letting orks shit on its corpse. The game is a mess of half-assed ideas that simply don’t form a cohesive and well presented product, despite the fact that it is, for the most part, an enjoyable title. Worth under half its price, this tribute to the emperor’s finest ended up mutated and broken by bad design choices.
· Graphically sound
· Music is uplifting and suits the setting
· Nothing is more gratifying than turning an ork into a bloody paste to wash your face with...also: Jetpacks
· Main character models are extremely well detailed
· Down-and-dirty view of the 40K universe is a welcome change of pace
· Titus is a hardass
· Orks provide hours of entertainment via their sheer stupidity
· Enemy variations seem diverse, but are around just too long to prove interesting.
· Multiplayer is nothing really special, and is more often than not counter intuitive, as well as an unbalanced affair
· Level designs can rely too heavily on brown and grey
· Customisation is not an option from the beginning of the game for multiplayer
· Enemy audio tracks replay quite a lot
· Controls can be awkward and irritating at times.
WTF? Moment: Why does humanity still believe that the Imperial Guardsmen are any use? Christ almighty they just suck, yet they have super-soldiers fuckin’ around the galaxy and they don’t think “hmmm, maybe we could use a few more of them!” This universe really makes no sense at all...