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Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine – Hands-On Review

Posted Tue, Sep 13, 2011 by jeffprime

warhammer 40,000: space marine

I have been a fan of the world of Warhammer 40,000 since it was created back in the mid 1980s. I still remember diving into the dark and gothic universe of WH40K back when they released the first rulebook, Rogue Trader. Since then, I have seen how the WH40K universe expanded and changed over the years and, to top it off, I actually owned a hobby shop selling all manner of Games Workshop products. (My chosen army was Imperial Guard though.)

Other WH40K games came and went, but I never got too excited. I’m not a RTS player, preferring RPGs and shooters. Finally, though, Relic and THQ announced Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, and I was instantly hooked, going almost insane waiting for its release. So now that the game is here, how does it stack up as a FPS and how true does it stay to the lore of WH40K?

warhammer 40,000: space marine
You are the instrument of the Emperor's justice!

Cautions

Space Marine is rated M and is meant for players 17 and up. The game’s cautions include: Blood and Gore, plus Intense Violence. These are actually what you want in a WH40K game!

Gameplay

75Pretty GoodThe basic premise of Space Marine is that you play as Captain Titus of the Ultramarines chapter of the Imperium’s space marines. Space Orks have invaded a Forge World (one of the worlds where manufacturing is consolidated) and you are sent in to stem the tide. Later on, you’ll fight against more sinister forces, the heresy-inducing minions of Chaos.

Gameplay is simple, solid, and fun. Basically, you’ll shoot or stab (or crush, rend, tear, etc.) everything that moves. Combat is handled by having your left mouse button shoot your ranged weapons whist your right mouse button does melee attacks. You can chain multiple melee attacks together to increase damage. As you progress through the game, better weapons will become available for you to use.

warhammer 40,000: space marine
Pardon me, but was that your head?

The central tenet of Space Marine is action. You will fight hordes and hordes of enemies. Your armor can regenerate but you can regain health by only two options. The first is that you can build up Fury as you fight, and when you activate it, your health is replenished and you become a veritable dervish of death. The second option is to do an execution move upon an enemy, which is a favorite of mine. After you stun a foe, you can then perform a bad-ass looking execution move on them. The downside is that you do this in slow motion and you are still vulnerable to attacks, so it’s not good to do this while fighting in a crowd.

Space Marine actually feels kind of like a throwback to simpler times for FPS games. Your overall goal is just to kill hordes of enemies and looking like a badass while you do it.

There are a couple of negatives to the gameplay in Space Marine. First, the levels are designed in a linear fashion, which is something that I’m not a fan of. It’s a testament to the game that it didn’t bug me as much as it normally does, but it still bothered me a little. You’ll follow a clear path of carnage from beginning to end.

warhammer 40,000: space marine
Chaos Space Marines are one of humanity's deadliest foes.

The campaign (single-player) mode is not that long. You should be able to complete it at a little less than ten hours. While multiplayer is fun (more on that on page two of the review), I wished that the campaign took longer to complete. I sense that there will be a lot of DLC coming our way in the future.

The last negative is that the game is still buggy. Players have been gnashing their teeth on various forums over bugs such as disappearing floors, not being able to activate an item, and not being able to load into multiplayer matches. It seems that many of those afflicted have older video cards, and while THQ has stated that they are working on a patch, you might want to hold off a few weeks until those problems are cleared up.

Graphics

77Pretty GoodThe graphics in Space Marine are, for the most part, gorgeous. This game does an excellent job of sucking you into the harsh, gothic world of WH40K. The denizens of the game, ranging from the Space Marines to the enemy forces, such as the different types of Space Orks and Chaos are all rendered with amazing detail. I have died from looking at the enemy as opposed to killing them as soon as they appear. The Forge World nature of the setting (heavily industrial) is lovingly shown as you journey through the game. The reason why I’m scoring the graphics lower than my description above is that you do spend a lot of time in generic corridors and tunnels. A few more set pieces of grand design would have been nice.

warhammer 40,000: space marine
The world of WH40K is a dark place.

Blood does flow rather freely in the game, but it’s not stomach churning. Does it say anything bad about me that when I shoot a bad guy in the head and his head explodes, I laugh hysterically?

Sound

97ExcellentThe sounds of the game are top notch. From the voice acting to the hoarse cries of the enemy hordes to the sounds of combat, the game does a great job of immersing you into the world of WH40K. I particularly love the taunts shouted out by the Space Orks as you fight against them. Hearing the rumble of far off artillery to the buildings shaking around me, the sound keeps you deep within the setting, rather than having you grow bored and numb to it. Remember: in the grim darkness of the far future, all humanity speaks with an English accent.

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