The Average Gamer

Space Marine Review (360)

In August I brought you my demo impressions of THQ’s third person shoot ‘n’ slash, Space Marine. Now it’s time for my full review. While the basics haven’t changed between the demo and the retail release, there is plenty more to talk about so rev up your chainsword and get ready to dive into the detailed world of the far distant future.

For the benefit of those who aren’t familiar with the franchise, Space Marine is set in the world of Warhammer 40,000. This was originally a tabletop game set in a cold dark future where mankind has become a ruthless war machine intent on spreading the glory of its Patriarch across the universe. Of course it meets resistance from other armies but only greenskinned Orks really come into play here.

The main core of the God Emperor of Mankind’s Imperium are the various Space Marine chapters; groups of genetically and mechanically enhanced super soldiers, with the Ultramines being the most iconic. A single squad of Space Marines is a force to be reckoned with and a chapter of a thousand Marines is nigh unstoppable. As the player, you take on the shining blue mantle of Captain Titus and his squad of men as they attempt to recapture a forge world from an Ork invasion.

Combat is simple but effective. Ranged weapons use the standard right trigger controls and come in an assortment of flavours, from the standard Bolt Pistol to more exotic Laser and Plasma rifles via The Vengeance Launcher and several Bolter adaptations. Melee can be mixed in with a quick tap of X and whatever edged weapon of destruction you happen to be wielding will forcefully meet with anything in its path. While the standard Chainsword is fast and effective, I prefer the slower feel of the Thunder Hammer. The satisfying crunch when it comes slamming down on an enemy never ceases to make me smile.

Rather than regenerative health, Space Marine opts for a proactive system. Enemies can be stunned with a special attack by pressing Y. When stunned, the good Captain can get up close and personal with a gruesome finishing move that also restores a varying amount of health depending on the enemy. This shoot ‘n’ slash mix needs tactical thinking to master. Gaining health by finishing enemies exposes you to extra damage

I loved the story, being a huge Warhammer 40,000 fan. Already being able to take on the mantle of the Imperium of Mans classic footsoldiers was brilliant. Plenty of effort has been taken to make sure every aspect of the game fits into this often complex universe. The first time you see the Titan in all its massive glory brought a smile to my face and here are enough twists and turns to keep the dedicated fan going just to see what pops up next. I like long campaigns – don’t get me wrong – but despite the combat being fun, it soon starts to get tedious. This won’t be an issue for the die hard Warhammer 40,000 fan with a horde of collectables to pad out the lore but those that don’t know the universe already may find motivation somewhat lacking.

Outside of the Campaign players have access to two multiplayer modes. Annihilation sets Space Marines against their more corrupt counterparts, the Chaos Marines, in a self-explanatory skirmish with the winner being the first team to 40 kills. Seize Ground sets the two factions against each other in a bid to capture and hold several points on the map. the longer ground is held for the more points a team receives and the first team to 1000 points wins.

I tend to dislike multiplayer. I find most games don’t get the balancing right and this isn’t me being bitter. Space Marine gets it spot on, if you have the skill you can get the kills. Other than a few perks and slightly different weaponry there is nothing that makes a Level 40 Marine character inherently better. If you can master your weaponry you will have no problems keeping up.

My favourite part of the multiplayer isn’t the levels, nor is it taking a Thunder Hammer to an opponent’s head. The real buzz for me is the customisation menu with multiple chapters of Space Marines in the universe each with their own colours and standards. Sticking to the Ultramarines only would have been a let down for a 40k fan like myself. Thankfully, Relic doesn’t dissatisfy. Each faction has access to the decoration of some of the Universe’s most recognised chapters and warbands. Being able to create a Chaos Marine as one of the Emperor’s Children or my Space Marine as a Black Templar kept me happy. Points are earned in matches via kills and point captures and each weapon also has a series of challenges that can be completed for special armour unlocks.

Should You Buy It?

Space Marine does its best to be an exciting experience in what is commonly considered a universe for hardcore nerds. Continuous action attempts to be the staple of the Titus experience and while fans of the universe may revel in its references and back story, those who aren’t may be left a little empty. Long campaigns and dark environments with so much combat your trigger finger will fall off may be the backbone of the grim future but it doesn’t translate very well as an entertaining experience for everyone.

Despite all this it does have some truly excellent moments. Bouncing around with the Jump Pack or battling demons atop the walking titan are fun whether you are a fan of the franchise or not. If you are, then go and buy this now! If not? Wait for the price to drop a little and then try it. You never know you might enjoy it.

Warhammer 40k Space Marine is out now on PS3, PC and Xbox 360.

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