Pros: Very challenging, nice graphics
Cons: Online pass system is a ripoff
Warhammer 40K: Space Marine is a third person action game based on the well known series of miniature-based games and books. I’ve not played the tabletop game or read the books, so I don’t know how faithful this video game is to the source material. I did find it to be a fun and very tough game, and the multiplayer action does at least add some replay value.
In this game, you play a Space Marine, which is basically a guy in a huge metal suit that acts as armor and can even attach jet packs for jumping around. You’ll have a variety of weapons to use along the way, and your goal is to repel an orc invasion. You’ll fight on land and in the air, and much of it takes place in a very industrialized setting. Although I am new to this setting, I thought it was pretty cool. I always thought Warhammer was more about giant mechs walking around, and in this game you do see one of them but you can’t climb in it and do anything. This is all about the action from a foot soldier’s point of view.
The levels in this game are very linear. You might have the occasional side hallways to explore for servo skulls, which are like message beacons left behind, but otherwise you stick to one path and that’s it. Around every corner is something to fight, and there is lots of ammo in between. I never once ran completely out of ammo while playing this. Each level has some goal like defeating an enemy, escaping an area, activating some power source, and so on. As new enemies are introduced, you’re guaranteed to see more of them down the line. At many different points in the game you will find yourself in a huge firefight where you have to be careful how you approach.
Combat in this game usually involves you having to hang back and pick enemies off from afar. Pretty much every battle goes this way, except for the last one. If you hang back during the boss fight, you’ll die every time. Nice one, developers! You do also have a melee weapon and it can be powerful, but you can’t charge in swinging or else you’ll get killed quickly. Enemy soldiers never hit each other, but they will ventilate you. Their own grenades don’t bother them, either. Your variety of guns range from different types of machine guns to some explosive projectile type weapons and plasma weapons. The most powerful stuff shoots the slowest and has the least ammo. You also can throw grenades.
I found the controls in this game to be a little clunky. I know that the space marine is a guy in a giant suit that limits movement, but at the same time I was annoyed by the fact that he can’t jump unless it’s one of the few times you get a jetpack. Debris is spread all around the levels and your soldier will just run in place when they get in the way, rather than jump or go around. During combat, this is deadly. You can press the X button to roll out of the way, but this won’t work in some combat because you can knock enemies back. If you get surrounded, trying to roll just has you ball up on the ground in front of them.
The graphics in this were impressive in that it had a great depth of field during many levels, but unfortunately it all just amounted to background scenery. I still liked being able to see the detailed structures far off in the distance, but it sucked to see all that and be forced to follow the same linear path. During gunfights, it can be very flashy with gunfire and explosions, and it was often hard to see what was going on. The characters were all well detailed and I liked how the different weapons look. As for the sound, the voices are all from the UK, including actor Mark Strong. Everybody talks with a lofty accent, and I guess this is part of the whole Warhammer 40K setting.
This is one of many games that use an “online pass” system where if you buy it used and the code has already been used by the previous owner, you’ll have to pay $9.95 on the PlayStation Store to enable online play. Otherwise, you can only play long enough to reach level 5, which will take less than an hour for most people. I hate that video game companies are doing this and think that it is just milking their customers. I did buy the game used and chose not to pay extra for features that should already be included. What I did see of the online multiplayer gameplay was pretty decent, but I much prefer online first person shooters to third person.
In the end, I found Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine to be pretty fun. I probably would have gotten more out of it if I had been into the series, but it still holds up well as an action game. The single player campaign will take you a good 10-12 hours to beat.