The Warhammer series has normally been associated with the RTS (Real Time Strategy) genre in the past but with Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, Relic have switched genres with surprisingly badass results. And that really is what Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine is all about in a nutshell – being a complete badass. It’s about jumping into battle with your battle brothers to take on hordes of bloodthirsty Orcs shooting, maiming, stabbing or curb stomping them in the process, no questions asked. Because that’s how Space Marines roll.
In the face.... in the FAAAACE
Space Marine is an all out, over-the-top third person action game where you can use both ranged and melee weapons with the fluidity found in games like the Devil may Cry series. You’ll start off with a pistol and a rather large sword but soon you’ll get your hands on some devastating firepower, all of which feel extremely satisfying on the battlefield. These include grenade launchers, plasma weapons, Rambo-esque heavy machine guns and my personal favourite, a gun that fires molten lava at your enemies. But the highlight of the game for me personally was the Chainsword which is exactly what it sounds like – a chainsaw mounted on a freaking sword. Watching that weapon eviscerate Orcs in all sorts of unpleasant ways is one of those gaming moments that make you squeal in delight, just like you did the first time you saw Marcus Fenix chainsaw a Locust in two.
Space Marine follows the Serious Sam principle to a certain extent by throwing an insane amount of enemies at you 24/7. Considering you’re a towering behemoth of a Space Marine you may get tempted to run head first into an Orc horde but you’ll learn gradually that charging into battle is not always a good idea thanks to the annoying ranged weapon using enemies. The trick here is to avoid the melee attackers, initially going straight for the ones firing their weapons from far. Once they’re taken care of, you can slice and dice your way to victory in no time.
Did that hurt?
There are no conventional health packs in the game to speak off so when your character starts losing health, you’ll need to quickly execute an enemy to regain lost health. While this looks supremely cool, you need to understand that you are vulnerable while the entire execution animation plays out. This can get a bit frustrating at times when you’re surrounded by enemies, are forced to execute an enemy to gain health but end up dying before the animation completes. The best advice I can give you is to try and isolate the enemy you’re about to execute.
Space Marine is a linear game so you’ll run from A to B completing missions, moving on and even though I was essentially doing the same thing for all of seven hours, I never really got bored. Yes, a large part of that was because of the game’s over-the-top violent nature but a lot of it had to do with enemy variety as well. Like I mentioned earlier, the game constantly mixes it up throwing ranged, melee and mini-bosses at you so even though this is a straightforward action game, you constantly have to adapt your strategy to survive. From time to time, you’ll also be given a jet pack and a hammer and these sections by far were the most enjoyable sequence throughout the entire game. Floating up in the air only to ground stomp 10 Orcs, bursting them completely is something I don’t think I’ll ever get bored of.
Death from above
Space Marine is no Crysis but it certainly looks good. I for one really dug the gothic, war torn game world that Relic had painstakingly created. Even on my modest GTX 280, the game performed real well at 1920x1080 with all settings maxed out. Developer Relic games really know how to make scalable PC ports and this game is a testament to that fact. Character design is also very well integrated into this chaotic world. Space Marines look completely intimidating strapped on with their heavy, chunky armour while Orcs look well, like blood thirsty Orcs. Special mention has to be given once again to the game’s execution animations that could give Gears of War a run for its money as far as raw brutality is concerned.
Once you get done with the single player campaign, you can head online for two multiplayer game modes – classic Team Deathmatch and a variant of King of the Hill. Servers are tough to come across on the PC version and even though this game features a levelling up system found in most online shooters today, the multiplayer in Space Marine is nothing to write home about. The game’s supposed to get a co-operative horde mode this October but it would have really made more sense including it with the base game as no one is going to come back to this game in October.
Yeah, this is gonna be painful
Warhammer: Space Marine is a brutal and thoroughly satisfying romp through the Warhammer universe. Sure it can get a little tough at times - the last boss fight is especially cheap and those damned Orcs will get on your nerves by calling you Space Marine a billion times throughout the campaign but none of that can take away the satisfaction brought on when you plunge your chainsword into an Orc’s face and rev it till his face obliterates in a cloud of red mist.