The Warhammer 40K world has gone strong ever since it was first introduced as a tabletop wargame back in 1987. Warhammer has since been successfully converted into video games with Fire Warrior and Dawn of War, but the most recent addition to the franchise, Space Marine, is the first to allow players to take control of a single Space Marine. With this new point of view, does this game do justice to the Warhammer 40K world, and does it do enough to make it stand out in the crowded month of September?
Space Marine takes place in space, as humans are being pushed to their breaking point by, not only orks, but also insurgents. You play as Captain Titus, a veteran ultramarine, who is out to defend Imperium Forge World Graia from an ork invasion. You must fight your way through all kinds of orks, to collect a power source, then save the day, and then kill some more orks – that is really as deep as the story gets. It’s sad to see such a bland and boring take on a universe that is deep and filled with tons of lore. The cast of characters do very little to help in this aspect, as you have the rookie soldier who obeys every order, the grizzled veteran, and the betrayer. All of these characters display very little personality and don’t do anything in the story to make themselves memorable.
As one of the Ultramarines, you are one badass warrior who has been put through all sorts of genetic engineering and relentless training. This is clear in the game, as your character is able to mow down wave after wave of enemies without breaking a sweat. Your character also moves rather well for a guy having all kinds of armor on his body, but still feels rather clunky at times, especially when trying to dodge with a roll.
In combat, you have the option of four different weapons and a melee attack. The gun’s range is a bit standard with a pistol, sniper, rifle, and grenade launcher, but as you progress through the story, you unlock some new and cool variations on these weapons. The melee weapon can be a chainsword, axe, or hammer, though with the hammer you are limited to that and the pistol/rifle. Space Marine does a great job of allowing you to quickly switch between the gun in your right hand and the melee weapon in your left hand, allowing for seamless transition in battle. The move set for the melee weapons is incredibly shallow, as with three clicks of the melee button, you have unleashed all your attacks, with a little variation thrown in there when you tap the stun button, then perform an execution attack. These execution attacks come in handy, as they are one of only two ways to heal yourself, with the other being melee fury attacks. These fury attacks are performed after killing enough orks, where you then can unleash your fury, causing melee to do more damage and slowing down time when you zoom in with your ranged weapons.
There are multiple kinds of enemies to fight in the game, with some shooting at you with ranged weapons and others rushing at you full force. Battles can sometimes become very hectic as waves of enemies will charge at you, all while snipers are shooting down at you. These fights are made even more intense by the fact there is nowhere to hide, meaning you have to push forward at all times. Enough variation is used in the enemies rushing at you, that you have to sometimes pay close attention to what type of enemies are in each rush, but, with so many enemies comes a lot of repetition. Enter door, fight off two waves, exit to another area, enter another door, fight waves of enemies, exit to another area… and repeat. This is the game for you in a nutshell, with a couple of cool missions where you are taking down flying enemies or flying around on a jetpack and stomping down on them. Yes, the heart of the game is just kill everything, hence all the waves of enemies, but a bit more variety wouldn’t have killed anyone – or maybe it would have..
There is absolutely no life or personality given to the Imperium Forge World Graia. As you walk through the level you can clearly see a battle has happened, yet at the same time, you never really feel like you are in the middle of some huge war. Level design is extremely bland and there is absolutely zero exploration or alternate paths, leaving you to walk down a carefully dug out path. This is made even worse in some levels as you walk to a room, take an elevator, walk to another room, take another elevator, and… well, I think you know the rest. Couple this weak aspect of the game together with the lackluster story and characters, and you are left with just the combat, which does a serviceable job in trying to save this game from mediocrity.
The game’s online multiplayer, which allows players to choose from three different classes and take part in smaller sized battles, only has two modes – capture the point and team deathmatch. There is an extremely limited choice of maps, but you can customize your marines, so score one point there. The biggest issue with this multiplayer is that, if you are playing it on the PlayStation 3, then you aren’t playing it. I know that sounds confusing but as of now, it is almost impossible to get into a game on the PS3, with wait times going up to 45 minutes just for matchmaking to find you a game. I do find the lack of a horde type mode rather interesting, as the single player forces you to take on loads of forces, yet the multiplayer wants you to work as a small squad against another small squad. The game also lacks any kind of co-op option for the campaign, which might have spiced up what was a rather boring experience.
When the dust settles, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine is a game that should do enough to make fans of the series and bloodthirsty vampires happy, however it doesn’t bring enough to the table to make it stand out against the myriad of shooters on the market. The online trouble, coupled with the lack of spice in the campaign, leads to a very average game that drags on for a few hours too long. If you are in the mood for a weekend rental filled with plenty of blood and action that attempts to move you forward at all times, Space Marine will be a good choice, just don’t expect anything more than an average game.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
+ Combat Switches Smoothly Between Melee and Weapon
– Dry Presentation Hurts Overall Experience
– Poor Level Design and Repetitive Fights Don’t Help Campaign.