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Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine Review

If anyone named their game simply Space Marine, it would come off as a tad unimaginative and lazy. But let’s get something straight, we aren’t talking about yet another game about a group of sentient biceps with guns, these are the original space marines created just over 20 years ago by Games Workshop.

Moving away from their RTS roots, Relic shows us exacting what it means to be a space marine in the year 40K, with a mix of third person shooting and bloody melee combat. But does it just feel like all the other space marine shooters? Or does it truly bring something new to the table?

Here’s the set up. Your name is Captain Titus of the Ultramarines and you have been tasked, along with your fellow marines, to quell an ork invasion on a Titan forge world. Pretty much you’re standard Sci-fi shooter tale right there. There is a twist towards the end of the narrative that involves another famous 40K faction, but nothing you won’t see coming. So the plot isn’t that complex, but it is well executed with fairly decent writing and strong voice performances from the likes of Mark Strong.
Please! Why are you even trying?
The characters don’t feel overly edgy and tough like other space marine shooters; Captain Titus oozes a calm confidence that’s refreshing in the sea of gravel chomping foul mouths that plague the genre. But it’s Relic’s depiction of the Warhammer 40K universe that’s really impressive, and is sure to go over well with fans. Little things like the references to other alien factions, the comical cockney banter of the Orks and the crumbling architecture all help create the brutal, war torn world that table top gamers have always imagined in their heads.

Space Marine breaks away from modern game design somewhat, by opting to forgo the expected cover system found in this style of game. So instead of picking off enemies from a distance behind a conveniently placed concrete block, the game forces you to get straight into the thick of battle. The game is all about swapping between ranged and melee combat and knowing when to change tactics. Both the shooting and the melee are really fun, every weapon has weight and feels powerful when used against the Ork horde. Machine guns feel like rapid fire rocket launchers and your hammer makes the earth shake with each impact.
Yep, got this for Christmas last year...
Space Marine also manages to cleverly side step the issue of players simply picking off enemies from a distance and avoiding close quarters combat altogether. You see in Space Marine you don’t have recharging health; instead you gain health by pulling off a melee execution. This creates a great dynamic where at first you’ll simply bombard the enemy with lead, but soon your health will reach the point where you have no choice but to charge straight towards the horde and smash some skulls under your iron boot. Granted, it makes little to no sense in a narrative context why shoving your axe into an Ork’s face makes bullet wounds magically heal, but it gives the game play a kinetic pace. Unfortunately that’s all there is to Space Marine, great combat with little to no variation. What is extremely polished and fun, but after 5 hours going through the exact same motions can get tiresome. If the game had something to break up the combat, like some puzzle solving, I think it would have improved greatly overall.

Space Marine uses the same engine as Darksiders, and has managed to make a world that looks very good, but isn’t going to blow your mind. The game runs very smoothly with almost no texture pop in or screen tearing. All the character models look very detailed, especially Captain Titus whose armour is covered in imperial markings along with scratches and dents caused by years of combat. The environments look dirty and depressing in the way all war torn landscapes should. And the effects and explosions are all wonderfully rendered making every weapon feel just that little bit more devastating. But none of this is going to make your jaw hit the floor as there are many games that look significantly better.
Ho ho! Just bring it on!!
Final Verdict
Are you a fan of Warhammer 40K? If you are, I’m pretty sure you will love this game. It has clearly been created by a team of people who love the source material, and have gone to great lengths to accurately depict the 40K universe. The game truly makes you feel like a 40K Space Marine. If you’re not a fan, you might not get as much out of it. Unfortunately, because so many games have space marines, the characters and setting may feel quite generic to those who aren’t familiar with the fiction. That said, if you want a satisfying and slightly unique combat system, Space Marine is worth a try.

Story = 8/10
Gameplay = 8/10
Graphics = 8/10

We Know Gamers Final Score = 8/10

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