WH40k: Space Marine (PC) – Review

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Admittedly this has come a little later than I had hoped. This is largely down to a fancy old hoo-hah (to use the entirely technical terminology), which delayed the general release of Space Marine in the UK, that many people suspect involves one or two of our bigger national retailers. Many people have their strong suspicions of who is behind it, but it would be unethical to speculate here without proof.

The boldly titled Space Marine throws you straight into the action with the campaign, and very early on you can feel a real weightiness in protagonist Captain Titus’ movements.  When the marines drop from a height they come down with a boom, and the melee movements really do look like they have a heavy force behind them.

Boom!

The four melee weapons are all hilariously good fun in their own right – notably the execution moves you can do with them (which can be performed on stunned enemies or in Fury mode).  When you’re fighting some of the larger or more resilient mobs you’ll need to do a flurry of moves before attempting to stun them, or if you’re in Fury mode you can just do a quick stun and execute with ease!  The benefit of dispatching enemies in this manner is that it regains health, which makes it a good tactic to employ against the final stragglers after a hard fight.

Freshly activated Fury. Also lens flare.

As far as weapons go, there’s a nice bit of variety.  Options include Stalker Bolters, Vengeance Launchers, Lascannons, Melta Guns, Plasma Guns, and a few more to boot.  Although as far as my own needs go, a Bolter and a Lascannon were more than enough, and the melee capability more than takes care of any of the Choppas or Daemons who crop up later.

The storyline is pretty interesting, and the journey is filled with little tidbits that will make fans of the lore smile.  To give an example, the sheer awe and joy the Imperial Guard experience at seeing you “before the end.”  While I can’t fully do justice to this point, I’m informed by people I know that it’s very accurate to the universe’s lore.  While the larger part of the game has you dealing with Orks you do get a bit of variety once the Chaos forces are introduced.   This gives a few more nice killing animations to gawk at.

I think you'll find that's my axe buried in your head, old boy!

The multiplayer plays out alright, and if you enjoy a silly deathmatch you’ll likely be catered for.  It is fun but I felt a few things could have been modified, and all of this again, like with Dead Island’s review, comes from a PC player’s distaste at experiencing very console-flavoured aspects in his tower.

Starting off with a similar issue to Dead Island – the voice “feature”.  A rather irritating one as it is by default always on, and you can’t just disable it entirely, or activate a push-to-talk key.  As a consequence of this you’ll likely hear a lot of people breathing heavily because their microphone isn’t quite above their nasal passage, people munching away on crisps, or having entirely abstract conversations with someone else you can’t hear!  You’ll be able to tell this is becoming quite a point of contention.. but it’s only because it’s becoming more and more prevalent! (It’s not my fault! They’ve made me this way!)

Space Marine is at least one-up on Dead Island in that you can individually disable people’s microphones, but this is hardly an ideal arrangement, especially when I’ve purchased a PC game and found it lacking in certain obvious features a PC gamer would want.

A satisfying executional crunch with the Thunder Hammer!

As far as the multiplayer combat itself goes, it’s not all that bad (if you can ignore the console lobby and lack of dedicated servers). And it is quite fun.  The feeling of the game changes substantially, but you could see why they’ve had to make those changes.  Melee weapons become very subsidiary (unless you’re using the Assault class), and executions are not possible.  The reason is that the animations can take such a long time that, if it were in multiplayer, the rest of the enemies teammates would just shoot you up before you could finish! (A problem experienced in Alien versus Predator).

One potential issue, although not the end of the world, is that there’s no group-by-level feature in place, such as the one that Brink had.  This meant that on my first gentle toe-dipping adventure in multiplayer mode, the sharks of high levels grabbed that toe and yanked my whole body in to drown!  As I say it’s not game-breaking, but it seems unfortunate, and could easily dissuade others from playing multiplayer as much if they’re going to get trounced by the best-equipped players out there each time.

Imagine doing this with a few pals and some beers!

In terms of the multiplayer side of things, I’m more keen on the approaching co-op mode.  The idea of slashing through hordes of enemies with my friends is a far more appealing one (clearly the waves of zombie co-op games has leaked into my preferences!), even if it will only contain two maps initially.  It’s now just a case of seeing whether or not it will be delayed.

Space Marine is definitely a fun title. Speaking from a personal standpoint the campaign is a lot more fun than what’s currently offered by the multiplayer, which offers nothing amazingly unique, and similar gameplay to that can be found in many, many other games.  If you are going to play it, I definitely suggest playing through the campaign on hard for a really good challenge.  And even with it’s current downfalls in multiplayer, it’s still a bit of fun, although I would like things to be optimised for PC users, but not optimistic about the actual chances of that.