Platform PC, PS3, Xbox 360 (360 Reviewed)
Things You Might Like
- Gritty, in your face Action
- An engrossing Universe
- Over the top combat
Things You Might Not Like
- Linear story
- Sub-par Enemy Voice Acting
- Faux-Latin nomenclature
Space Marine, with its over-the-top action and an engrossing world, is a great way to spend a few hours.
4 out of 5 Enemies of Man Felled
In the grim future, there is only war.
Fans of the Warhammer 40k franchise will instantly recognize this as one of the phrases most readily identified with the series. The Warhammer 40k universe is set in, you guessed it, the year 40,000. In this time, mankind has spread out among the stars and found only pain and strife. United by The Emperor of Mankind, we wage endless war against the other creatures of the cosmos in a battle for supremacy of the Human race. Among those who exist to fight these battles are the Space Marines, genetically engineered super-soliders who wear massive power armor and crush the enemies of man under foot. In Space Marine, you control Captain Titus of the Ultra Marines. You and two of your fellows land on a planet besieged by Orks (yes, that’s how the 40k folks spell it) to begin liberation of its inhabitants and extermination of the green skins.
Now, I won’t begin to try to explain all of the history and myth involved in the fully realized Warhammer 40k universe in which Space Marine takes place. I don’t nearly comprehend all of it and my feeble attempts would only earn the scorn of Warhammer 40k’s devotees. What I can tell you is a rough summary of storyline that comprises Space Marine. Spoiler-free, of course. As I mentioned, you play as Captain Titus of the Ultra Marines. Clad in power armor and armed with a host of terrifying weaponry, you are dispatched to a planet under siege by Orks. This planet is key to the Empire of Man and cannot be lost.
The game opens with a bang . As your ship enters the atmosphere, rather than land among a hail of weapons’ fire, Titus decides to grab a jump pack and leap out of the ship to take on the Ork ship directly. This is where the fun begins. Right away you start running, gunning, and slashing. You start off with only your trusty Chainsword (which clearly was Gears of War’s inspiration for the Lancer) and a Bolter (aka pistol).You’ll tear your way through swarms of Orks, and this is only the beginning. As you progress through the game, more weapons are made available at various drop locations and weapons caches. From the Bolter to the appropriately named “Melta Gun”, which fires lava like a shotgun, your tools of destruction never disappoint. And if you don’t like the Chainsword, a literal Warhammer and a Power Axe also become options down the road. All are devastating and all are highly enjoyable. In particular, I’ve found I enjoy the Bolter and Power Axe combination.
The gameplay here is pretty solid, clearly pulling from the success of Darksiders and some inspiration from cover-based shooters. Interestingly, though, there is no cover in the game. You can move behind things to shield yourself if you wish, but there is no cover mechanic. This brings home the whole attitude of the Space Marine. You plow through waves of enemies with your melee and ranged weaponry and the entire thing feels like the lovechild of God of War and Gears of War. So War is definitely in Space Marine’s ancestry. An entertaining addition is the Fury mechanic, which builds up like God of War’s Rage meter and allows the player to do more damage and regain health for a brief time. And speaking of regaining health, there are no Health Packs or MedKits in this game. Which is sort of refreshing. Indeed, even the “take cover until you feel better” mechanic is modified. You have a shield, similar to Halo and a health bar underneath. To refill the Health Bar, you need to stun and then execute enemies. This triggers some gratuitously gory animations that tear enemies to pieces and restore your health. As with anything else in the game, this mechanic reinforces the nature of the Space Marine: No Retreat.
Equally enjoyable are the graphics for Space Marine. Built on the Phoenix engine (ala Darksiders), Space Marine has the right balance of realism and it works well for it. Characters look like fully fleshed out sketches, but they never stray into the Uncanny Valley. The Orks have a sense of realistic fantasy about them, and are believable without being creepy in the way that too-real fantasy creatures sometimes look. The world design was done on a truly massive scale and it helps to draw the player into the world. I’ve found myself several times considering picking up the miniatures for Warhammer 40k, and that is a testament to the design. Also, I’m sure that’s exactly what Games Workshop is hoping for with this venture.
Somewhat counter to the graphics is the voice acting for the enemies in Space Marine. All of them speak English, no matter the race, but the Orks you encounter all throughout the game have little more than 3 or 4 lines to deliver once they engage you in battle. Cries of ‘Space Marines!’ or ‘More Humans to Kill!’ are fun at first until you hear them for the 40,000th time in one mission. Aside from this complaint, the rest of Space Marine’s aural efforts are rather on par with the industry. Another gripe some might have is the short Single-Player campaign. At approximately 7 hours in length, the Single Player campaign seems like a good length to me. You’ll get a good story that doesn’t risk going on and on forever. However, if you’re looking for a deeper delve into the Warhammer 40k universe, you’ll be disappointed.
In closing, Space Marine is an enjoyable campaign through a war-torn alien future in which mankind struggles for survival. You’ll have a blast and not regret it.
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