If you're a Warhammer 40K fan, you've dreamed of taking up a chainsword and carving Orks into bloody chunks of flesh and bone. Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine plants you in the heavy boots of an Ultramarine and lets you do just that. The viscera fly in this third-person shooter/melee hybrid. They stain the ground and splash against your screen, yet the brainless hordes continue their assault, crying out their familiar "waaagh!" before presenting themselves for slaughter. Space Marine is simple fun, and a treat for fans of the franchise--and for anyone who delights in the ceaseless bloodletting of bad guys. It is, in fact, a little too simple. As entertaining as it is, the game lacks the variety, the memorable moments, and the sense of scale of the finest shooters. After you annihilate yet another great mess of greenskins, the question arises: Is this all there is to it? With some exceptions, yes, that's all there is to it, and it's hard not to wonder what might have, should have been. But the action is so satisfying, and the atmosphere so grim, that you'll want to see the adventure through.
6333219Unleash your fury when it counts the most.None
What Space Marine does best is capture the spirit of its universe. The Ultramarines' weathered armor is so heavy and hardy, they don't so much wear it as it wears them. As you push through battle-worn trenches, the Orks' makeshift machinery erupts from the ground, shaking the earth. Roaring greenskins in rocket packs rush past, providing a touch of comedy amid all the carnage. And such carnage it is. Enemies erupt in soggy displays of goo, yet the waves continue, your foes' bloodthirst overcoming their sense of self-preservation. When you carve your chainsword through these forces, the buzz is so authentic that you can almost feel the green flesh being torn away from your foes' skeletons. The visuals and sound both work hard to promote this brutal atmosphere.
The story, on the other hand, is as dry as the battlefields are sodden. (To wit, the opening cutscene begins with a sequence featuring the ever-exciting storytelling device called "words displayed on a monitor.") As Captain Titus, your role is to mow down Orks and, later on, the forces of Chaos. You and your comrades speak in lofty, stentorian tones and act as mere pawns of the plot. The main players are voiced well but are as forgettable as can be, everyone filling their assigned roles but rarely giving you a reason to care about their destinies. The story is too simple for the plot "twists" to feel anything other than inevitable, and while the cliff-hanger ending sets up a sequel, you probably won't feel all that curious about what might happen next.
All the blood lets you know your enemies are good and dead.
Not that the promise of more Space Marine is a bad thing. The action is a fun mix of third-person shooting and melee. The sense of weight to the movement, the camera perspective, and the weapon selection interface might at first bring to mind Gears of War, but the similarities are superficial. You might be clad in weighty armor, but you aren't burdened by it. Aiming is swift and smooth, allowing you to gun down dozens of targets without breaking a sweat. When the crowd gets too close, you can swing your chainsword (or axe, or hammer) about with ease, the Orks spraying so much gore it's a wonder there aren't puddles of it to wade through. And unlike in Gears and its ilk, there is no cover system. Space Marine wants you to keep busy, not remove yourself from the action. The health regeneration system also complements the "kill, don't hide" mentality: to restore health, you perform a grotesque finishing kill. This doesn't mean that each enemy is a quick pick-me-up waiting to be harvested, mind you. You are vulnerable during these lengthy moves, so you must be careful not to leave yourself open to gunners or other attackers. Succumbing to death while executing a long fatality can be irksome, but a little tactical thinking should keep that from being a frequent occurrence. In any case, while the final acts have their challenging moments, Space Marine is not particularly hard, so frustration is uncommon.
And so you put an end to the masses of meanies threatening the Forge World you protect. And it's fun, due in large part to your arsenal. You always have your bolt pistol (or its plasma equivalent) and its unlimited ammo when necessary, but it's better to take aim with the bolter, an assault rifle with a good kick to it. It's effective at surprisingly long range, and strong sound effects and a good sense of impact make it fun to use. (You can see the blood spewing from enemies hundreds of feet away.) The scoped stalker bolter is a nice toy, too, best used to take out distant gunners before wading into a sea of daemons with a death wish. The melee action has bite to it as well, though Space Marine is more shooter than hack-and-slash. When you get to the hacking and slashing, you mostly just pound on buttons and perform the occasional brutal execution. Fury mode--in which you become a temporary tornado of carnage--breaks up the repetition with some snazzy slow-motion visuals and extra helpings of Ork intestines.