Game Review: Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine (360)
Release: September 6th, 2011
Genre: 3rd Person Shooter
Available Platforms: 360, PS3, PC
ESRB Rating: Mature
As influential as the Warhammer universe has been on video games, it’s odd that the brand has never been able to make much of a dent in the medium. Relic have set out to correct this with the release of Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, and for the most part they’ve done a stellar job. While playing a 3rd Person action title starring a bulky, armor-clad warrior may not exactly be revolutionary, it must be kept in mind that Captain Titus and the rest of the Space Marines are OG’s, and we owe a lot to them.
Space Marine sets you in the role of Captain Titus, head of a platoon of Ultramarines- genetically modified humans bred to be one-man armies, capable of handling hundreds of orks solo. You’re dispatched to a manufacturing planet that produces ships, weapons, and war machines known as Titans. The Titans are huge mechs capable of wiping out entire planets, so it goes without saying they’re highly-coveted pieces of tech. And the orks want one. It’s your job to stop them.
It’s clear right from the beginning that Space Marine isn’t your average modern 3rd-person shooter. First off, there is no cover. Space Marines don’t hide. At first this logic seemed fuzzy given what we’ve come to expect from the genre, but once you see the characters in motion, and you see how imminent a threat the endless waves of orks are, the idea of a cover mechanic makes little sense. As you progress through the twists and turns the story takes, the foundation of the game is a simple, constant one: kill orks. Lots of them.
That isn’t to say there’s no strategy to Space Marine. At first, you may make comparisons to something along the lines of Dynasty Warriors, but even that isn’t really accurate. Space Marine constantly offers you risk/reward scenarios through the very design of the combat. Health doesn’t regenerate, and there are no health packs. In order to heal yourself, you have to perform finishing moves on enemies. So, if you’re taking a lot of damage, you have to single out an isolated ork, get in there quick, and health up before the rest of the pack are back on top of you. The strategy comes in making decisions like this in the heat of battle. There’s no time to plan, no time to take enemy movements in- just get in there, study for a millisecond, and execute. What this accomplishes is making you feel like a tactician capable of making decisions on the fly, and it’s a great feeling when you manage to wipe out an entire area of orks.
Relic has maybe made the most-access able title in Warhammer’s video game history, but the barrier to entry is still fairly high. Those put off by the dense fiction built up literally over decades may still end up steering clear of this one. In terms of game play, while there are a decent variety of weapons to choose from, the attack and combo systems (which is what you’ll be using the most) are incredibly limited. A wider list of attacks to choose from would have been nice, as you get really tired of hammering the x button by the end of the game.
With the Dawn of War series, Relic have proven several times over that they have nothing but admiration and respect for the Warhammer universe, and Space Marine further solidifies that. Addictive game play and a strong, driving story make this release one that you should check out- regardless if you’re a fan of the source material or not.
-Solid game play that offers a great alternative to most 3rd-person shooters.
-Dense fiction and setting may turn off some.
-Could have used a better combo system.
8 out of 10