Warhammer 40K: Space Marine Review

THQ has brought the strongly protected Warhammer 40K fiction and brought it to life with Space Marine. The player controllers Captain Titus of the Ultramarines, a veteran to war with an attitude to accomplish those goals of protecting the manufacturing plant on Graia and cleanse the Ork horde before they reach the Warlord Class Titans. The Titans, these war machines that allow the survival of the human race are one of the resources that can’t be lost to the Orks. Initial reports have the Orks taking over the defense weaponry of the planet and are planning on commandeering the Titans; this is unacceptable and will result in the loss of thousands of lives if not more. Captain Titus, along with Sergeant Sidonus, Leandros, and 2nd lieutenant Mira, the Ultramarines take to the planet.

Captain Titus leads his team onto the planet to deal with the Ork problem; this is where the player will encounter the first set of enemies while taking the tutorial for the game. The gameplay is based in a third person view with some sighted shooting elements with the weaponry. With the ability to wield both a melee weapon and a gun simultaneously, the game teaches you how to best determine how to approach a situation, especially where there is a wave of over twenty Orks barreling down on the player. Pepper some bullets into the crowd to weaken or kill the small Orks and then shoulder charge into the bigger enemies to knock them back as you swing your hammer, axe, or chain sword. While it might seem easy at first to call this a hack and slash with some shooter elements, players will quickly find that it takes precise timing and coordination to decimate large crowds of enemies without dying repeatedly. One of the best ways to avoid taking damage is to tap the A button, which is used to evade enemies and possibly kick the smaller Orks out of the way. With a few quick button presses a Space Marine can clear out a surrounding force with a stunning stomp, this stomping action might stun some of the Orks which will be indicated by a hovering B button over their heads, if in reach, press the B button to execute your foe. These slowed down executions don’t only look great, feel satisfying, but will also replenish health. Try different combinations of weapons while executing your enemies for different animations, such as when wielding the battle axe Captain Titus will plant the axe into the foot of the enemy and with both hands crack open the jaw (personal favorite). What holds true about the old saying of the bigger the enemy the harder they fall, well in this case the bigger the enemy the bigger the execution if you can pull it off.

So as players continue through the campaign players will be tasked with saving their fellow infantry marines, while denying access to key weapon outposts from the Orks. Keep an eye out for shining blue lights that will direct the player to new weapons, ammo supplies, and grenades, but if players see a floating red light it will usually be one of the skulls that are collectible in the game. Each skull holds an audio log that will provide more information about the happenings on the planet. Collecting these skulls will also lead to certain achievements tied to the game for finding ten and then finding the complete set throughout the game. Each level will also feature a purity seal that will enhance the player’s abilities such as using the Space Marine’s power, what is considered a slow motion aiming mode that will provide accurate shooting of enemies, and faster regeneration of a shield.

The game might have a slow pace to start, but will pick up quickly as the encounters start to become more frequent and more exciting with different environments, new enemies, and new objectives for the player to accomplish. One of the best encounters is when on the bridge as allies, enemies, and Chaos are all fighting it out with explosions, blood, and bullets flying by the player’s head. I found that without enough varied encounters with enemies I was just mindlessly just slaying Orks one section at a time after another, which for some might put a damper on the overall experience if their attention isn’t grabbed quickly by the first few levels of the game. Where the game will redeem itself is in some of the high pressure big Ork battles that will require heavy fire power, turrets, snipers, and precision timing to defeat the biggest of foes.

I want to say that the single player experience is about twelve hours long as I played for three days with a few hours each day going through it on the normal difficulty, I would recommend going into the game on the easy difficulty if you don’t want to get too frustrated with the AI easily killing you or just getting stuck at different sections of the campaign (good luck to any crazy person trying to beat this game on hard). Overall the campaign had some great experiences with only some minor issues with pacing, ability to properly grab turrets when required to use them to fight for your life, but those can be easily overlooked for a great transitional experience from taking the board game to the video game atmosphere while keeping old Warhammer 40K fans happy, plus allowing new players like myself to explore the universe. Will I start painting miniatures after completing Warhammer 40K Space Marine, doubtful, but the game did peak my interest in what the universe had to offer with the characters, enemies, and weapons.

Let’s move over to the multiplayer portion of the game and talk about what can be expected. When I first sat down to play the multiplayer portion of the game I instantly fell in love with how much it reminded me of playing other favorite PC games even though the version we were playing was on the console. There are three classes to choose from: Assault, Devastator, and Tactical. While each class offers different tactics, the multiplayer still held a great balance between each class facing off against each other. I am usually the more forward playing team member that likes to be in the batter, with some side shooting from distance to play the support role (I would like to mention I had given so many assists in the Chain Sword competition at THQ I basically knocked myself out of the running, still a little bitter about that). So there is a leveling system attached to playing multiplayer where all actions will give XP towards the next rank that will unlock weapons, perks, and customization slots. There is tons of customization not only on the armor aspect with head, shoulders, arms, legs, chest pieces, and back plates, but with the load outs also. Start with a primary, secondary, grenade types, and perks (personal perks and weapon perks).

There are two game modes currently available with five maps to play on in the multiplayer portion. There is the standard deathmatch known as Annihilation and the territory control gametype called Seize Control.

 Annihilation showcased below
 Seize Control showcased below

The gametypes are very straight forward with the goal to reach the predetermined score to win the round. After the game is over there is a scoreboard with a full report of your stats that will have a full breakdown of all the awards received in the game and the progress towards the next unlock reward and rank.

I find that the ranking system might scare away some lower level players when it comes to playing the game as the higher ranked users will have unlocked more weapons, perks, and abilities. Having some of the better weapons and as a result dying by their hands was a little frustrating when climbing the ranks and unlocking the different items. To be clear I was killing higher ranked players with no problem, but at times especially when players were unlocking the higher damaging close range weapon similar to the shotgun it was a little frustrating to be killed so quickly when I am still unlocking weapons to fully customize my Space Marine or Chaos character.

Final thoughts of the game I would say that the single player provides a lengthy experience to play through and moderate difficulty that can cater to a majority of players, plus allows those looking for a challenge with the hard difficulty. The multiplayer is standard with the two available modes, great unlocking features and ranking system, balance with the class system, but might be a rough entry for those new players. So I would recommend picking the game up if you are a fan of the Warhammer 40K universe as it does a great job of representing it in the game and to those looking for something similar to an action/shooter game to pick it up for the multiplayer and get together with your friends to play it.

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