Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine. A while ago, I checked out the demo for this game and gave it a quick rundown, and I was worried that the full game would let me down.
So did it? Luckily, no. It didn’t let me down.
Space Marine follows the story of Captain Titus of the Ultramarines. This is the best of the best and he’s their captain, so… He’s a pretty badass guy. Your team is sent to a world to help defend it against an ork invasion. Imagine Tolkien’s orcs but wearing makeshift armor and duel-wielding pistols. They travel from planet to planet and take all the technology they can find and then make use of it. All their weapons, armor, vehicles, etc, are all stolen from other cultures. And now, it’s up to Captain Titus to protect an ancient machine from being stolen by the orks.
My main concern was slaughtering the source material. I’ve painted Warhammer models for almost five years and this is the first console game that’s attempted to recreate that world. I’ve always wanted to play the Dawn of War games but I’ve never had a PC that would run them. So, when I played the demo, I was relieved that it did quite a bit of justice. And after finishing the entire game, I was very pleased.
These “space marines” are different than the heroes from series like Gears of War or Halo. These guys are huge. They’re wearing hundreds of pounds of armor. They’ve got two hearts to pump artificially enhanced blood through their veins. But the game makes you feel like this. You can’t jump. You can roll. And every step you take pounds and echoes. You don’t need cover, you just take bullets. No other game has made me feel this awesome. It throws dozens of orks at you and you’re using this chainsaw-sword (cleverly called a chainsword) to hack and slash. It’s amazing.
In terms of difficulty, I noticed it went in drastic ups and downs. Most of the game was pretty easy but a few of the boss battles were almost frustratingly difficult. The enemies were nicely designed though, both in visuals and in function. The first few levels, I was able to hack and slash. But as enemies progressed, I had to learn to use my sniper rifle. I had to learn to use grenades properly. Tactics became vastly important, though not necessarily difficult to pull off.
The Campaign. The single-player campaign was an interesting story, although pretty narrow. You only explore one world and most of the battles are the same environment. You fight orks and then eventually you realize that a darker force is behind these attacks and you fight them for awhile. The types of enemies were nice, though the same environments repeated and it made me feel a little less excited about each encounter. What would I want? The Warhammer 40,000 world is full of amazing enemies and locations. If there’s a sequel, I’d love to see some tropical locales where the space marines face off against some other alien species. I won’t nerd out by giving real examples, but there are plenty of other alien races to face (or ally yourself with). This game felt like a great first chapter of a game.
Multiplayer. I spent a few hours playing the multiplayer to see how it worked. The coolest part is being able to create and tweak your own armor. For someone that paints these models, being able to create armor just like I painted them was extremely satisfying. You can also adjust what weapons you want to start with and give yourself other perks. This is the incentive for playing extensively, as you keep gaining new options/new weapons/new perks. Multiplayer was fun and I actually managed to hold my own against much more experienced players. The only downside is that the maps pretty much echoed the single-player campaign, meaning they all looking relatively similar. Play was fun though. I’m sure they’ll release more maps as time progresses.
So, is it good?
Yes. The campaign was interesting and incredibly true to the source material. Compared to other shooters in the genre, I don’t think it’ll stand the test of time however. Single-player was only about 8 hours and was pretty repetitive in terms of level design. A sequel would be wise to mix up locations and enemies enough to create some variety. So Space Marine is good. But not great. For me, it was fun watching this world come to life. For you, you’ll have fun… but it’ll be over before you know it.