Warhammer 40K Space Marine Review - Kill the Xenos!
The whole execution mechanic gets stretched later in the game too, as you face more deadly ranged opponents; how can you regain health by executing enemies, when they blow off your arse when you close to within a reasonable distance?
The lack of a proper cover system goes from feeling liberating to lacking too, as ranged enemies pin you down and you’re forced to switch to scoot-and-shoot sniping to progress, rather than the melee death-fest that typifies the early levels. It’s as if the devs ran out of clever ideas to keep the melee combat fresh about three quarters of the way through, and then reverted Space Marine into a more generic third person shooter.
There's plenty of narrative drive behind the game, though, with the storyline (complete with utterly predictable twists) clipping along with the scale and pomp you would expect from a tale told in the 40K universe. Buildings the size of cities crumble, guns with shells as big as trucks blow holes in things, and men in unfeasibly large body armour knock seven shades of hell out of the enemies of the Emperor.
Set pieces also help to add a bit of variety (bar the inevitable tedious turret sequence), and the opportunity to romp around with a jump-pack or man a baddie-shredding heavy-bolter are both highlights. Even the out-of-place boss-battle is fun, although choosing to end on a tedious quick-time event did leave us feeling a little cheated; after fighting through thousands of enemies, you feel Titus deserves more than pressing Space not to die.
Despite running out of steam towards the end, Space Marine remains enjoyable throughout the nine or so hours of the single-player campaign, with enough new death dealing gadgets trickled through to the player to keep you interested.
A fair multiplayer offering adds some life to the game as well, pitching Space Marines against Chaos Marines. However, much of the tough-as-nails, invulnerable feel of the single-player game is lost to keep play balanced, and we can't see ourselves investing the necessary time into the result in order to level up and unlock the fancier toys. The co-operative survival DLC teased by developers before release sounds much more enticing; the Last Stand addition was a great extra for Dawn of War II, but right now there’s no sign of it.
Stop! Thunder hammer time!
We’re huge fans of the 40K universe here in the office; just last week Paul took on Clive at the Horus Heresy board game, and most of us are ten books deep into the series of the same name. We’ve read the codex, painted the models and drooled over the gorgeously painted models in White Dwarf.
However, despite our rampant 40K fandom, Space Marine, while fun, still feels a little empty and repetitive (just like the Ultra Marines – zing!). Space Marine’s problem is that it peaks too early; after the initial glee of ultra-violence and hacking off Ork heads, the final quarter degenerates into a ranged slog.
For some, that will be enough, and we’re sure that we’ll see more from this fledging franchise soon. However, when you consider the accomplished start of the game, it feels like a shame that Relic hasn’t been able to carry this quality throughout.