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Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine
Game Name: Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Publisher(s): THQ
Developer(s): Relic Entertainment
Genre(s): Third-Person Shooter, Sci-fi
Release Date: September 6, 2011
ESRB Rating: M
Big Ups: Incredibly Deep Universe, Smooth Gameplay, Extremely Fun Combat, Epic Firefights
Big Downs: Short Single-Player, Cliffhanger Ending, Multiplayer Bland But Fun

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine is Relic Entertainment’s newest video game featuring Games Workshop’s incredibly deep Warhammer 40k universe. Unlike its real time strategy counterparts, Space Marine is the first of the Warhammer 40k video game titles to be an action oriented shooter. I was a little bit worried about how well the game would play because of that fact. The finished product turned out to be quite an enjoyable experience all around though, and my early worries were quickly forgotten.

For those of you not very familiar with the Warhammer 40k universe, it is a science fiction universe featuring quite a few different alien races. Each race has their own politics, religion, and everything else you can imagine. War is a very common thing and the different races are constantly clashing over territory, resources, or if someone looks at them the wrong way.

In Space Marine, the player takes control of a Space Marine (bet you couldn’t guess that one), which is basically a super human soldier in the Warhammer 40k universe. The player controls Ultramarine, Captain Titus, as he defends the planet Graia from an Ork invasion. The Orks invaded the Forge World of Graia in order to steal a powerful Space Marine war machine known as Titan. This makes the planet a very important asset for the Space Marines, and as such, a group of Ultramarines led by Captain Titus are sent in to defend the planet until further support arrives.

The campaign does the Warhammer 40k universe great justice. There is a lot of well developed background to what goes on during the game’s single-player. There is a nice couple of plot twists that really keep you interested and engaged in the story. The set pieces are pretty amazing as well. As you progress through the game, you can tell how the constant fighting slowly wears down the architecture of the planet. There are some pretty large scale skirmishes throughout the game that are chaotic and intense. Relic did a great job of capturing the feel of an immense battle and translated it into the game very well. The overall experience of the game’s single-player was fantastic, though the ending kind of left you wanting more.

If I had to pick a complaint about the single-player, it would definitely be the length. My first playthrough was a little over five hours long. You’re left wanting to play more, and luckily for us, there is a pretty good multiplayer attached to the game to get even more hours of entertainment out of. There are only two multiplayer modes in the game: a capture point mode called Seize Ground and a standard deathmatch mode called Annihilation. Both play as expected and aren’t very revolutionary, but the multiplayer’s customization and overall look make it pretty fun none-the-less. Each player is given a bunch of customization as far as what their armor looks like, what playstyle they want to focus on, and what type of weaponry they want to use. The playstyles are broken into three different classes: Assault Marine/Chaos Reaper, a melee specialized unit; Tactical Marine/Chaos Space Marine, a balanced unit with good range gunplay, mobility, and melee fighting; and the Devastator Marine/Chaos Havoc, a heavily armored ranged weapon specialist. Melee does seem to be very powerful in the multiplayer. The combination of several of the perks allow for melee players to kill people before they can really react. I won’t say it is overpowered as there are a couple of ways to counter it, but it is very strong, easy to use, and can be frustrating to play against. The multiplayer is pretty good as a whole, but unfortunately it doesn’t really do anything spectacular. It is fun, but a little bland. As such, the multiplayer will probably be largely looked over in favor of the fall’s bigger releases.

As I mentioned earlier, I was really worried that the gameplay mechanics as a whole would fall short, because this was Relic Entertainment’s first adventure into the third-person shooter genre. However, the game plays very well and changing from melee to gunplay and back again is smooth and felt great. Guns feel like they all have the appropriate weight attached to them and the aiming works as expected from a modern shooter. Movement is done very well also. Speed and weight fit the character models nicely, and again move how you’d imagine someone in a heavy suit of battle armor would. The jet pack probably feels the best though. The short sequences in the single-player where you get to use it are really fun and play great. It is very easy to use, and it was very satisfying to jump up in the air and crush down on enemies.

Although the single player mode wasn’t extremely satisfying and the ending left me with a bad taste in my mouth, the overall experience of Space Marine was a positive. The series doesn’t really do anything exceptional or innovative, but the overall smooth gameplay and the wealth of story background that the Warhammer 40k universe has adds a lot to the possibilities of the series going forward. The ending was a pretty heavy indication of a sequel, and if it plays as well as Space Marine, I will be very excited about it. I would love to see a more expanded multiplayer and a much larger scale single-player story that Relic Entertainment and the Warhammer 40k universe are capable of. That being said, I believe Space Marine is a fairly good game that fans of the Warhammer 40k universe will love and should also be pretty entertaining to shooter fans as well.

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