by Chris Davis
reviewed on X360
May the Emperor Guide Our Blades
The role-playing game is one of the oldest in all of interactive entertainment. Long before it would ever grace a mouse and keyboard people were gathering together in their living rooms, basements, and pretty much everywhere they could to realize their fantastical desires and live lives that no one could attain. Heroes, villains and legends all around fought epic battles upon the player’s infinite mental landscape where victory or death was literally a role of the dice and a mark of the pencil.
Warhammer 40,000 is one of the few pen & paper RPGs to make a successful transition from paper to digital entertainment. This success is largely attributed to Relic Entertainment who, with their 2004 title Dawn of War, created a RTS title that was as fun to play as it was faithful to the canon of the Warhammer 40K universe. Relic chose a different direction for the the franchise when they announced Warhammer 40K: Space Marine to be a Third Person Shooter, a daring move in a crowded market, especially during the busy fall season.
Beginning Reform is Beginning Revolution
38,000 years from now, far longer than many think our species will survive, humanity has prospered and taken to the stars, conquering countless planets and systems in the Milky Way galaxy. It is not a time of peace though: the Imperium of Man, lead by the Emperor and his Lords of Terra, find themselves locked a great war for survival against the Orks, an alien species that seeks only to pillage and plunder whatever world they come across. At the frontlines of this war, humanity’s champions, the Space Marines, have charged into battle for hundreds of years without restraint or mercy and it is their shoes we find ourselves in.
As Captain Titus of the Ultramarines you bring your more than 150 years of combat experience to the field of battle. A distress call has brought you to a Forge World, a planet-wide weapons factory that has been invaded by an army of Orks. The secrets weapons being developed there are too crucial to the war effort to be destroyed or, worse, captured by the Orks. Titus and his chapter have been sent as an advance force to prevent such an event from becoming reality. Space Marine’s entertaining though not entirely unpredictable story is told on the fly as Titus and his squadmates Sidonus and Leandros combat the hordes of Orks.
The game throws you headlong into the Warhammer 40k universe. High fantasy in space is something that sounds great on the board but also bears that worry of too much depth for an average fan or a newcomer to understand, let alone enjoy. Space Marine takes note of this and keeps the background of the 40k universe bottled up, focusing the story and most of its bits almost completely upon the situation at hand. There’s a wonderful sense of theocratic devotion in the human and Ork characters that comes off so strong that, if you can suspend your disbelief as to how utterly ridiculous it is, you find yourself drawn in and almost cheering along your characters.
The singleplayer experience for Space Marine clocks in at about an 8 to 10 hours and while this alone isn’t enough to garner your hard-earned cash off the bat, it does serve as a great entry point for newcomers to the Warhammer 40K mythos as well as seasoned veterans.
The Blood of Martyrs is the Seed of the Imperium
Players face off against thousands of enemies over the course of the game. You are usually accompanied by two or three AI teammates though it is clear that Relic intended for you to earn the majority of the kills yourself. Your friends Sidonus, Leandros and the occasional fourth party member are incapable to be killed and at times of questionable intelligence but they certainly do enough to make it feel like they are contributing to the war effort.
Apart from the Orks, you will also be fighting the Legions of Chaos. Regardless of their affiliation, enemies usually come in one of three flavors: melee, ranged and a mix thereof. The act as ‘micro bosses’ or perhaps squad commanders, are harder to kill and will slaughter you if you aren’t careful.
Space Marine fully understands the meaning of the word ‘horde’ and regularly hurls assaults at you consisting of two dozen enemies or more at a time. Facing down dozens of foes at a time is quite the task for any protagonist, especially one in a third-person shooter. Captain Titus was clearly made for such a task. A Space Marine stands eight feet tall and is adorned with armor that makes each man look and feel more like a tank than a human being. This sense of overwhelming strength carries over into the game as Titus feels a versatile and mobile weapon on the battlefield.
True to the Warhammer universe, good translation to Third Person Shooter genre.
Multiplayer longevity is somewhat in question.