Welcome back. We’re reviewing an entry in the Warhammer 40k Universe today. It involves Marines. And Space.
Warhammer 40k- Space Marine was created by Relic Entertainment with THQ as a publisher, and released in September 2011. It tells the story of Ultramarine Captain Titus, who is sent in with a small team to hold back an Ork Waaargh on a Forge World until the Imperium can send more reinforcements. Now, if you’re not familiar with the 40k universe, that entire sentence is going is be Greek to you, so here’s the short version: Green guys trying to kill everyone, kill them first. Knowing the lore is certainly handy, but you don’t need it to enjoy the base experience, which is slaughtering hundreds of enemies with assorted guns and melee attacks. There’s also a multiplayer mode with the usual batch of game modes and player customization, if you’re into that, but last I checked there wasn’t much of a player population left.
See, Space Marines in this universe are 8 feet tall, positively ripped, and wearing armor that shrugs off anything smaller than a tank shell. This is not a game where you dig in behind cover, shoot up some enemy troops, then move up and knife the stragglers before repeating. This is a game where you shoot off guns so badass that even pistol bullets are explosive, while wading into the middle of an enemy formation with a chainsword, throwing the nearest combatant to the ground and curb-stomping him as a show to the others of what’s to come.
While in many games the character is capable of both shooting and melee combat, the combat system is often too clunky to reasonably switch in the heat of battle, and ends up favoring one or the other. Space Marine is arguably the best balance between the two I’ve seen. Some enemies are just positioned in a way that running up to them with your chainsword/power axe/thunder hammer isn’t reasonable, but melee is both efficient at clearing closer enemies, and vital for keeping your character alive. See, Titus heals by scoring melee executions on his enemies. And while some of the stronger enemies take noticeably longer to finish off, you’ll generally end up with more health than you started, even with all of said enemy’s friends shooting you in the back while you’re chainswording said enemy in the face.
The Fury system complements both systems as well. Every bit of damage done adds to a meter. Once it’s full, Titus can go into Fury mode, which grants him health regeneration as well as even more punishing physical attacks, and slow motion when aiming a weapon.
The presentation is fantastic. If you don’t understand what the phrase “Forge World” means, you will after this. … And Titus running around sounds suitably intimidating as his armored boots strike the ground. The game does a great job of showing just how over the top everything is in the 40k universe. Maybe more recent games have better graphics, but more recent games can’t let me enjoy bisecting a greenskin with a chainsaw-edged sword, so why bother?
Complaint time: Multiplayer can be frustrating, as the high speed/high damage nature of the Assault Troops combined with even average lag means that you’ll often only become aware of their presence after your character has already keeled over and died. On the singleplayer side, the game eventually hits a point where you have so many guns to potentially use that the level designers can’t easily offer them up to be switched between as often as I’d like. And for all their jokes about cover being for the weak, you’re going to get shot to pieces if you don’t duck behind a wall long enough to let your shield layer recharge once in a while.
This game was a fun romp, and I wish more developers would consider just making a badass world and letting their players revel in it all. Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine is $30 on Steam.