Gore, gore, gore!… Did I mention gore? This game is the epitome of a gore fest sci-fi/action adventure game. I compare it to Gears of war in look and feel (though there is no cover system, which I’ll cover later). Rated M for mature (with good reason), Space Marines takes you on a heroic tale through space in the far future. In Space Marine you are able to do a single player campaign or go online and play multi-player. Games Workshop (creators of the Warhammer 40K universe) has teamed up with THQ and Relic studios, as well as Havok, to bring you into the world of Warhammer 40K. To give you some scope on the background on the story presented: Warhammer 40k has been around since 1987. It started off as a table top miniature figures game and has grown into novels, magazines, pod-casts, and even a recently released CGI movie. Games Workshop has worked hard to bring the essence of the 40K universe to this game and it shows. Details from the tabletop game and stories come to life in Space Marine. From the armor, to the backdrops, and everything in between. Like I started off with, there is plenty of bloody gore packed into this game and many hours to be logged. The campaign feels like it goes on forever (in a good way) and always has you wanting to know what is around the next turn or in the next room. While there is way to much information to be packed into a single game, it does leave many possibilities for future games.
In the campaign you are Captain Titus. A veteran space marine. You are instantly dropped into battle with Orks (an enemy of the Space Marines) and must defeat them to save the world. Also, enemies vary and change as you progress through the campaign, which is refreshing. As you make your way through the beginning mission, controls pop up on the screen letting you know how everything works and what buttons do what. The learning curve is not too steep for your average gamer, so you should catch on pretty quickly. As you progress through the missions you will learn more about what is going on and are even able to collect hidden Servo Skulls (they keep recorded messages). They give you actual journal like tales from people who have been on the world during the battle, and I feel that they add depth to the story. Also, as you go along your missions you run into what I describe as “power up” stations. These stations unlock new weapons and moves that add to your arsenal. Some of the weapons included are chain swords, bolters, sniper rifles, melta guns, power axes, plasma pistols, and more. The weapons and armor you receive from these stations vary as your go through the campaign and at some places you must make choices as to what gun you want over another one. You will always be like “Sweet! A new weapon” or power-up. This helps, in my opinion, keep down the feeling of always having the same weapons and abilities throughout the game.
The visuals on Space Marines is top-notch. THQ and Relic have pumped out another visually stunning game. Most people will instantly compare it with Gears of War. The characters have the same type of look to them. Extreme detail was given to the character models in this game. There is detail from scars on faces to ornate markings on armor. While this is a very good aspect of the game, there is an obvious down side of the stunning character models. This is the environment. You would think that with the extreme detail in the characters that the environments would accompany them, but they don’t. They seem to fall flat and boring and blend together. There doesn’t seem to be much going on with the scenery, and while I know that the Warhammer 40K world is supposed to be run down, it just feels like more detail could have been added to the surroundings. I must admit that it started to lower my enjoyment towards the end, feeling like I kept walking through the same place. Overall, however, the visuals are top-notch.
Gameplay campaign: The gameplay in Space Marine is solid. It is not the best gameplay that I’ve experienced, but it is far from the worst. The controls, once learned, are easy to handle. Swapping weapons is as easy as can be and happen instantly. I like this feature, because it doesn’t slow down the gameplay with having you wait while you pull out your other weapons. Most of the environment objects are destructible by shooting them or blowing up barrels by them. The aiming is pretty good, though sniper rifle’s hit detection is off sometimes. Grenades are highly effective. I just wish they had a trajectory arch or something, so you know how far you are throwing it. One major issue I have with the gameplay in Space Marines is it’s lack of cover system. There are many objects as you travel through the game that look like good cover but prove ineffective sometimes in the fact that you can’t actually cover behind them. That being said, the lack of cover on the multi-player is good. This would only lead to major camping and irritation amongst players. I would have liked to see it in campaign mode.
Gameplay Multi-player: The first thing that popped out at me was that the online mode seemed to be an afterthought. There was only two game modes when the game came out. They have added more game modes for free since then, which is good (Free DLC, Yeah!). Another thing that annoyed me early on, and may have annoyed others, is that sometimes it seemed like the other person just wouldn’t die. I would put bolter round after bolter round into someone, and they would just run away seemingly unscathed. The upside to this however is that once you gain a few levels you unlock more powerful weapons (or heavier duty bullets) and armor. I like how this rewards players that put the time into the game. The maps, while not many, are diverse enough to have a different feel in each round. The multi-player also has many challenges for the various weapons which adds depth. Another good aspect of the online play is that if you buy the game used, you can play online up to level 5 before having to buy the access code. This will give you a chance to get a feel for the multi-player, but it won’t let you get all the goodies that come with having the access code and getting to a higher level. Where this online play really shines is the character customization. It is hands down the most in-depth customization I have seen in a video game. You can change your armor, set up your guns and perks, change the color of the armor, and change emblems and decals on armor. This way you can make your character stand out from the rest. You also can have different customized characters for both the good and evil side.
Overall this is a solid action adventure that shines with the campaign and follows up with the multi-player. There is plenty of story, action, gore, weapons, power ups, and online play to have you enjoying it for hours (8-10) plus online play. As you get late into the campaign it may seem a little repetitive, but not overbearing. The lack-luster online hampers an otherwise great game. The new DLC with a horde mode co-op may add some fun times with friends. I find that Space Marine is what it is. Fans of the Warhammer 40K universe will love it and others with like it or hate it (mostly for not having background knowledge). I like that it is something different from Call of Duty type games and gives you a change-up. You can grab this game on Amazon.com for $18 new or $10 used for Xbox 360, and I’d say it’s worth the money spent.
Lasting Appeal: 6/10
DLC: 9/10 ( original DLC free!)