Game Review: Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine

We’ve been waiting, we’ve been praying, and we’ve been digging our eyes out waiting for a Warhammer 40,000 game to come to console and finally, it’s here. Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine was released September 6th of this year and I have spend the last 2 months since the midnight launch feverously cranking out seize ground match after seize ground match. It was every bit the game that all of the 40k fanboys like myself wanted it to be, but will it hold it’s own when put into the hands of a stranger to Games Workshop’s dystopian universe? Well lets break Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine down and find out.

SINGLE PLAYER

The campaign of this game is truly something spectacular. Not because of story or gameplay, but because that is the main focus of the game. It is a 6-10 hour campaign(depending on difficulty and degree of player skill in TPS) that took me about 8 hours to complete, starting at around 1 am launch night/morning and ending around 9 am the same morning. No food, no sleep, no breaks, just war. The campaign has a fairly good story which is rather unpredictable when unacquainted with the 40k universe(never trust The Inquisition!) and offers plenty of intelligent dialogue. Unfortunately though, it’s a rather isolated and linear story that most gamers would not find worth retelling. The dialogue was very eloquent and insightful and when between fellow marines, made them seem more like “brothers” as appose to Gears of War’s “bro’s”. The games dialogue even had a few lines that were directly aimed at the table top players such as Sergeant Sidonas saying “It’s colder than a Space Wolf’s smile in here”. As for the voice acting? Right on the mark! While not the best when compared to some other games, it captured the stern and dutiful, yet respectful nature of space marines. The character’s that were doing the speaking in this title were the real deal as well. They had The captain, the old and wise friend, and the shifty/overzealous/naive ” plus one”. They go through the standard character arc and manage to make you feel saddened by any loses that occur, and betrayed by any wrongdoings. The brightest spot in the game though was the environment. It had such an absolutely stunning environment that managed to capture the Gothic feel and grand scale of the 40k universe perfectly. The Manufactorum was the size of a small city, and the War Titan was truly a sight to behold(and walk on). The most awe inspiring location in the game was the massive bridge in chapter 4. It was simply gargantuan, and could be seen towering above the area from any outdoor point in the chapter. When you ride a train like vehicle across it, you finally get the full scope of its size. Even when in the covered tunnel at the front end of the bridge, the rockcrete can be scene zooming by overhead, along with any enemies you kill. Yes, the enemies gore flies backward as if it is somehow stationary while the train is moving forward.
Now then, onto the most important part. The gameplay is relatively exhilarating, being half hack and slash, half shooter. It reminds me of a hybrid mix of Lost Planet and Drakenguard. It is really unfair to compare it to Gears of War as many are, because it really resembles Gears in absolutely no way but the fact that they are both TPS. No cover system, and heavy emphasis on close combat. And for all of you calling the chainsword a ripoff of the lancer, the chainsword first appeared in the Warhammer 40k table top game in the late 1980’s when it appeared in the first edition Space Marines Codex. The health system was also a refreshing new take on traditional health regeneration. Instead of recharging health or acquiring health kits, you simply preform an exocution on an enemy; the difficulty of the enemy determines the amount of health you regain. This forces you to way the options of when to execute and when not to, because you can still be killed while preforming the execution animation as you are not invincible during it. This does lead to minor frustration however, when a group of ranged enemies is firing at you from an unreachable platform and it is impossible to regain health during the shoot out. Overall combat it extremely fluid and clean, gracefully switching between ranged and close combat with ease, but many will find it lacking after the first few hours of play. Soften with bolter fire, stun, execute, and repeat. That’s the drill and after 8 hours of campaign, you will know it well.

MULTI-PLAYER

Space Marine is a member of a dying species known as the “campaign based action shooter”. During the first year and a half of it’s creation there wasn’t even a plan to include a multi-player mode in the game, rather the game would focus on an intense story driven campaign that would keep the game alive on it’s own. But then something happened. The gaming world around it evolved and they witnessed games like Halo 3, Call of Duty: MW2, Battlefield 2, and Gears of war 2. These games redifined the life cycle of the modern video game. It is no longer “Beat campaign, replay campaign every six months, and enjoy multi-player whenever a few friends are over” but rather “Beat campaign, play multi-player online until sequel comes out, never play campaign again unless achievement hunting”. This meant one thing had to happen.. Multi-player had to be added.
Now the first thing that any real Warhammer geek will notice is the customizer(which to the chagrin of many, cannot be unlocked until online rank 4), which is extensive to say the least. Remember those miniatures you build and paint? Yeah, so do the game designers for Space Marine. There are literally billions of combinations in the customizer. It includes dozens of pieces of armor that 40k fans will know and love, and newcomers will find aesthetically pleasing, as well as every color of citadel paint currently on the market(73 to be exact!) including inks, washes, foundation paints, and other general colors not related to Games Workshop.
The multi-player can’t survive on looks alone though. The customizer includes an extensive class customization feature that lets you play on your own terms in this class based multi-player battlefield. It includes weapons, secondary weapons, and perks that are unlockable through specific Call of Duty like challenges. When implemented in the game, it makes for a surprisingly and remarkably well balanced multi-player experience. The three main classes are Tactical(jack of all trades, master of none), Assault(master of close combat and hit and run, but made of glass), and the Devastator(master of heavy/long ranged weaponry, but slow as a brick wall and as strong as one too). The multi-player is fun and engaging, but suffers from a major flaw known as Notenoughvarietyitus. There is a meager selection of only 5 maps across a mere 2 game types(Annihilation and Seize Ground). This ends up being a severe blow to the replayabillity of it’s multi-player. On the upside however, 3 more maps and a Capture The Flag game type are in a DLC bundle coming out this December. This also includes a new variant of Exterminatus which enables you to use your Chaos Marine against orks and the forces of the Emperium. Exterminatus is my next thing on the list though.

Exterminatus’  delayed release is what actually prevented this review from coming sooner(30 day DLC became 55 day DLC), but it came none the less. Exterminatus mode is an engaging objective based horde mode that lets you pair up with 3 of your friends or random players to take on massive hordes of orks and servants of chaos. This one might have been the saving grace for its replayabillity, because damn is it fun.
Overall, this is definitely one of the top shooters of the year, but one that I feel will fail to satisfy those gamers looking for the next Call of Duty or Gears of War. It’s campaign may be short but it sure as hell is a great time while it lasts, and it’s multipplayer is well balanced and seeing support from THQ in the form of future DLC. Would I recomend it to someone? Yes, anyone and everyone. But do I think that would work? sadly, to no avail. I confidently give this game an..

8.5/10

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~ by oldbloodalex on November 6, 2011.

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