Warhammer 40K: Space Marine Review

It is the 40,000 millennium, the grim far future, and there is only war.  The game begins with an alert about an Ork invasion on the forge world of Graia.  Several options are suggested, but due to the fact that the Titan Invictus is currently on this planet they are not able to just scour the planet from orbit, and they cannot wait for a fleet to come and help.  This is where Captain Titus (you), Sidonus, and Leandros come into play.  These three are Space Marines, Ultramarine chapter.  It is up to them to take down the Orks and protect the Titan until reinforcements arrive.  These three are a good choice for this.  As they go in they know there is nothing down there they cannot handle.  A few thousand Orks can be taken care of in a few weeks if they had the time. Thus you use jump packs to enter the fray.  Talk about a way to make an entrance.

The Battle Begins Brother

The games starts with you jumping onto an Ork gun boat, and this serves as your tutorial.  This also does the job of introducing you to one of the primary antagonists of the game, Warboss Grimskull (think of what you would get by combining an Ork and a small mech).  Once you take down his ship and make it to the ground you meet up with Leandros and Sidonus.  Together the three of you get down to business with the help of the local Imperial Guard (that by all rights should be dead).  

There are two main components to combat.  The ranged component and the melee component.  When you are fighting ranged you will use your bolt pistol and bolter, and two other weapons.  You get different options through the game (such a plasma gun and lascannon).  These guns all have their pros and cons.  The pistol does the least damage, but it has unlimited ammo.  The bolter is your main rifle, and the other weapons differ on range, power, and how much ammo they have.  Meltaguns do a large amount of damage in a short range cone, but it has a low ammo count and a long cycle between firings.  I personally loved the lascannon since it could take out big guys in 3 shots instead of 100.

This brings us to melee.  This is very important in the game.  You will have enemies that will rush you, and you will want them too.  While Titus does have shields that regenerate out of combat, health does not.  There are only two ways to get health back, and the primary one is by executing an enemy in close combat.  You start with a combat knife for this, but you will soon get a chain sword, power axe, and (occasionally) the Thunder Hammer.  Each of these weapons has it’s own feel to it, and their own executions.  But be careful if you favor the Thunder Hammer.  While it does massive melee damage, you are limited to your pistol and bolter, so your ranged damage will suffer.  Also be careful when doing executions, if there are a lot of enemies you will continue to take damage during the execution and can still die during the animation.

This brings us to the second way get heath, which is a Fury Mode.  As you get purity seals you get the ability to generate fury.  Once full you can activate it to do more melee damage, or slow down to bullet time when aiming.  While activated you rapidly regain health.  As you get more purity seals you gain fury faster and the mode lasts longer.  It makes you fell like a god when activated (especially if you have the Thunder Hammer), but remember, you are not a god and you can still die.

Something else you will notice is that while it is a third person shooter, there is no cover mechanic to the game.  When at E3 this question was fielded by THQ.  There answer was, and this is one that cannot be argued, Space Marines are far too bad ass to need a cover mechanic.

True to Form?

So if you are a fan of the tabletop game that this is based on the next question should be, how true to form is the game?  Well, it is very faithful to the source material.  The script sounds like they took queues strait from the army codexes (the table top rule book for each army).  The imperial guard revere the space marines, constantly calling them Lords.  The Orks are referred to as xenos or green skins, and quite often brag on how there are more humans to kill.  The forge world shows how the human race worships the Machine God and the Emperor with an automated voice that says to continue work despite the incursion.  Even in the midst of a global attack, they are still following the rules that have been ingrained into their heads.  This is probably why the Imperial Guard are still alive.  Even though they cannot win, they continue to fight for the Emperor, duty does not end till death.  So if you are worried that THQ just did this to make money and did not stay true, you have nothing to worry about.

The way you get upgrades make sense as well for the 40K universe.  You walk up to a special container, it identifies you as an Ultramarine, and opens up.  You don’t just find purity seals laying around unused as no else could use them.  This method is broken later, as the second time you find a weapon it will be just laying around, but the first time it always comes from these special containers.  It makes the game feel even more as you are the only ones that can save this worlds.

The World is in Chaos

So to me, 40K just is not the same without the armies of Chaos.  Thus when Chaos takes advantage of this invasion to start one of their own, I was pleased.  Sure it is one thing to take out Orks, but a Chaos Marine is a whole different story.  I am not going to spoil what starts their invasion, but I was satisfied with the reason.  It was not just tossed in to extend the game.  It felt planned, which was nice since I thought the game was going end when this started.  If that had happened the game would have been a tad too short.

For the Emperor

So is the battle for Graia worth fighting?  As a shooter there are times when it feels like any other shooter.  I do sometimes wish it had a cover mechanic and there were times (once or twice) when I found myself going in circles.  It would be nice if they had a minimap in that fancy armor, or a radar to show where enemies were.  The melee is not complex or deep, so don’t expect too much from it, but when both melee and ranged are combined, by keeping both simple, they work.  Also I think the big thing that helped me like this game, and it may make me a bit biased, was that I used to play the Necrons the ancient robot army.  So to me this game was like coming home to an old friend.  It was much better done then Firewarrior where you played a Tau.  So if you play/ed Warhammer 40K this game is very much worth your time.  Otherwise at least give it a rental, you will not regret it.

4 / 5 Joysticks