Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine Review
developer: Relic Entertainment
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Sep 06, 11
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Relic Entertainment bravely steps away from real-time strategies and launches its first foray into the domain of shooters - enter, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine. The popularity of the franchise certainly warrants some attention and that should be enough for THQ to push this title into the crowded Fall gaming season. So, yeah, now Space Marine is up against some pretty solid competition. While Relic stuck to strategies, they rarely messed things up in their projects, which is why we had faith in them. However, switching to a completely different genre is never an easy task. Treading across the RTS realm is something they are used to, but shooters are unexplored turf to them. Developing a 3rd person shooter involves numerous challenges, most of which these guys never face before. Let's see how they did.
It's time to suit up and feel what it's like to be Captain Titus, a vigilant Space Marine, sent to a remote planet to help repel a massive Ork invasion and protect any potential tools of war that might significantly benefit the mighty Imperium. Leading a squad of Ultramarines, Titus has to defend the Forge World of Graia. Facing overwhelming odds, Titus and his team presses on, fighting swarms of Orks along the way. Hungry for power, the Orks seek to dominate the world they have invaded. They also want to get their hands on a powerful item that's defended by the Ultramarines and kept hidden deep underground.
Worship my skulls!
Keep it together... oh wait, what are we doing here anyway?
Relic did make one initial mistake with this one. Telling this particular story, they chose to stick with intermittent cut-scenes, which appear between battles. This should be great for those who hope to learn more about the world and why exactly are the Ultramarines doing what they're doing. On the other hand, not many details are given about the world, because the Marines mostly just keep blabbing on about the mission objectives, leaving little room for any deep characterization. Now, I do know that Space Marines are tough, bread for combat and not much for light conversation, but many times throughout the single-player campaign, I just wanted to learn more about what the hell was going on. That rarely happened. Some elements are welcome, such as the collectable audio logs and certain dialogue sequences, but otherwise, this game could do a whole lot more to make you interested in the W40k universe. I'm not saying, it's a complete disaster, but it just feels a bit weak, that's all. Warhammer 40,000 is rich in lore, so why not use that. What? It's a shooter, you say? So we're just supposed to shut up and shoot? Bollocks!
Shooting and slicing Ork meat seems to be a motto that's thrown about very often in this game. It's a shooter, so let's fucking shoot. Normally, we have no problem with that. Mind you, when the game offers little beyond mowing down wave upon wave of enemies with bullets and a handful of melee weapons, we start to ask the question: when the hell will something different happen? There are some attempts to enliven things up a bit - using the jetpack, occasional on-the-rails shooting sequences where you have to defend your position against large Ork-controlled war machinery, etc. Sadly, that's about it. This is undoubtedly the game's main problem. You go around slicing and shooting Orks, creating a massive bloodbath, which is enjoyable, but gets old quickly. What keeps things going is the choice of weapons, most of which were designed with different situations in mind. During the game, you're usually allowed to carry and switch between 4 weapons and those may be switched at some point with another batch of 4 new weapons, when you run into drop pods. So, for instance, you can use the Stalker Bolter (a.k.a. the sniper rifle) to take out Ork sharp-shooters from afar, while using the standard Space Marine Bolter at a shorter range and finally switching to an axe, chainsaw sword or hammer to deal with Ork scum up close and personal. Another cool moment, as we said before, is utilizing the Ultramarine jetpack, which gives you the freedom to drop in and out of fights. It's often a good idea to relocate when you're overwhelmed and establish a better position so you can retaliate. What's more, you can use the jetpack to fly up and then come crashing down on a horde of baddies, causing huge damage to multiple foes.
A faithful rendition of the Warhammer 40k universe, looks and runs smoothly on most rigs, great music and voiceovers, a well-polished game, and great multiplayer which you're likely to get back to;
Story itself could've been better, the game cries out for more diversity just about in every aspect of gameplay, especially in single-player.