Saturday, September 10, 2011

Warhammer 40k: Space Marine Review

Greetings all. As you can tell this is a review of the most recent Warhammer 40k video game Space Marine. Having finished the game twice now and played way too multiplayer I figured now was a good time to post a review. Warning there will be what some call spoilers in this. My apologies in advance on writing this review. Also I get a bit spacey, but that's because it is so hard to sum up the awesomeness of this game.

Single Player

As much as I hate Space Marines, which is a lot, I must admit that I enjoyed playing as Captain Titus of the Ultramarines. From the opening level deep strike onto an ork war ship, to holding off a massive waaagh pretty much on my own, to dealing with those pesky Chaos heretics Relic successfully manages to make you feel like a bad ass from beginning to end without taking away the reality that even you too can die. Even the parts where it is just going from point A to point B are good. Seeing random guardsmen looking at you in awe or checking out the damage that the Orks managed to accomplish is enjoyable.

The environments are 100% 40k. Never do you question that you are in a different sci-fi universe while playing. Everything is as grim dark and epic as it is expected to be. Plenty of skulls and symbols of the Mechanicus dot the rubble that you fight through and every piece of Ork "terrain" is very Orky is nature. Then there is the general atmosphere of the game.

Scattered through out the campaign are 48 servo skulls that contain audio logs from random Imperial citizens. You get to hear several back ground stories on things that, for the most part, happened before you and your fellow Astartes made it ground side. It really paints a grim dark picture that you would expect from a game of this caliber. They also shed light on what is going on in the main story line and are well worth attempting to find. Fortunately you can tell which ones you are missing in the menu and can listen to them at any time in the campaign.

The combat is pretty damn smooth given the number of enemies that you have to fight. You seriously get the sense that you are fighting an Ork Waaagh. Everything is loud, bullets and rockets are flying all over the place, and a nice horde comes your way to take your skull as a trophy. Fortunately it isn't too over the top like some games (ie Dynasty Warrior series). The gore factor is fairly high too. From executions to seeing randomly dead enemies and allies you definitely get the rated R level of gore that one should expect from the 40k universe.

Something else worth noting. Many people without even playing the game claim this is a Gears of War clone. Yeah I'm a fan of GoW and this feels nothing like it besides it being in first person. GoW is all about cover and pot shots. Yeah you can take cover, and at many times it is wise, but this game does not overtly punish you for running into the thick of things and just going nuts with a close combat weapon. If anything it encourages both shooting and melee; something GoW most definitely does not.

Also there is fem-guard. Well, one fem-guard, but enough to confirm that they do exist. Which makes this particular Imperial Guard player happy.

Outside of a few things I thoroughly enjoyed the campaign. Main issues being things like lasguns seeming to just be there for show, for the most part(seriously they are not THAT bad). But your Astartes allies' weapons are also nerfed so you can do most of the damage. Also the camera has a bit of an issue while doing executions near a wall. Not surprising since the enemy is already registered as dead and thus has altered physics, but this is rarely an issue since your screen is probably full of gore anyway. I do wish there was more to do with vehicles outside of one and a half levels. Also the melta gun being a bit of a "shotgun" type weapon bothers me since everywhere else it seems to just be a solid beam. I blame that on the forge world producing it however. Other than these minor issues the campaign is solid.


Multiplayer

The multiplayer in Space Marine is quick and fun. Although there are only five maps we have been promised FREE DLC in the next month or two. Fortunately the maps are well balanced and are enjoyable in both modes of play. Those two modes being Annihilation (first to 41 kills) and Seize Ground (an objective based game where you try to get up to 1000 points). Both of which are fun in their own ways.

There is an entire customization system in play similar to Call of Duty that relies on experience points to expand. Weapons and load out slots are unlocked through leveling up while armor and certain perks are unlocked through specific actions in the game. These specific actions being challenges that reward anywhere from meager to OMG amount of experience points.

I must say I like the customizer quite a bit. Damn near every type of Space Marine and Chaos armor is unlockable and gives players incentive to keep playing and in some cases to keep dying a certain way. I don't know Chaos Legions or Space Marine Chapters too well, but there are a ton of options available for each and each piece of armor can be swapped out like bits, but without the glue.

Unfortunately you can only do so much detail in color and yeah you can have your own scheme, but a few more options for trim would have been nice.

Weapons are very well balanced in multiplayer (as far as I am concerned). Even the humble bolter, your basic starting weapon, is still effective at higher experience levels. One thing to note as well is that plasma cannons get hot....Like kill you without an armor save get hot. Which is a nice little details since it makes sense fluff wise AND it makes sense to those of us who play table top. A detail I enjoy watching happen.

Melee is a bit clunky in multiplayer and takes some getting used to. But after playing as a Raptor or Assault marine for a few games (like 2 or 3) you understand what you need to do in order to be effective in close combat. Another cool thing worth noting is that when you die you can copy your killer's load out. This allows new players to use more advanced perks and weapons before they would normally be able to use them. You do lose the load out when you die, but it is sometimes worth experimenting with.

Now there are two issues that I hate to bring up since I love this game, but they should be addressed. Host issues do arise a bit, especially if you are on a shared network. Now most games flow nice and smooth, but once they slow down THEY SLOOOOOOOW DOWN and it is not worth staying. Also I have noticed a glitch (I have only seen it twice now) where the host leaves and the count down timer disappears and kills no longer add up the score. This allows the game to go on forever which honestly is nice for those that want to rack up experience points and get grudge kills (a certain type of challenge needs these). Fortunately you can always exit a game without punishment to your level or experience. Also there is the rare glitch of not going into the game type you requested. No big deal since you can always drop without consequence.

Final Review

In the end I give this game an 8.75/10. Which is pretty damn good from me. I don't play crap games and only buy AA or AAA titles. Sadly it falls short of the 9 range due to my fan boy obsession with the Imperial Guard (I wish lasguns did more to help you on the battle field) and the glitches in multiplayer being an annoying issue at times.

At the very least this game is worth a rent and quite frankly I am glad I spent the extra money to make this a buy.

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