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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Game Review: Space Marine (In Brief)



Hey there Chaos fans! I'm sure that all 40K fans are aware that THQ and Relic have rolled out the first major (and modern) 40K action title- Space Marine. Yes, I've been around long enough as a 40K enthusiast AND a video gamer to remember such outings as Fire Warrior and the ancient Space Hulk ("Bethor's Bolter... is.... jammed"!). I've also played the fantastic (and underrated) Squad Command for the PSP. Indeed, Warhammer 40K has had a longer and more storied video game career than some may realize.

Who remembers this game? Who remembers the Saturn?
The real issue for GW is that no video game has yet created "cross-over appeal"- that is, cracking into the "regular" gamer demographic (and don't give me this "hardcore" gamer crap- that concept is overblown and inaccurate, in my opinion). I know that is GW's real goal- making money off the video game while, at the same time, getting some of these video game players into the hobby. In other words, the games are an advertisement for the hobby. The closest GW got was Dawn of War- embraced by many PC gamers as a great RTS game. However, what GW really wants is a knockout title- a triple A title to go toe to toe with Halo, GoW, Resistance, etc.

The 40K gamer, has a different, but important set of expectations for a 4oK video game. They too want a triple A title- BUT, they want the game to have all the bells and whistles from the 40K universe. They want the action, look, feel, flavor, and tone of the 40K universe. They want a game that is 100% faithful to their vision of 40K.

Thus, both parties were looking to Space Marine (from THQ and Relic) to accomplish these lofty goals. The game has been in production for nearly 2 years, I believe. Last week, it was released. The Internet reviews have been "lackluster" and "good, but not memorable" and the like. It's earned grades of  7.5 (IGN) and B- (1up.com) and 7.0 (Gamespot). That doesn't sound like what anyone was hoping for. So, I thought I'd add my 2 cents...

"Does the Codex say how to clean the blood off our holy armor"?
Wow! This game is fantastic. The look and feel of it IS 40K. This isn't a hack job or "dumbed down" version of the universe I know and love- This has it all. The lead character, Captain Titus is dead-on perfect Space Marine. From his demeanor to size, to the way he moves in the armor and fires his bolter- he's great. It's not just just him- the architecture of the buildings LOOK like the building kits! The Imperial Guard have their uniforms, lasguns, and more. The Orks are vicious and cockney. And Chaos is... well, more on that in a sec. The game itself is a blast to play- a bit of Devil May Cry with a bit more shooting. Its NOT GoW- there's no button to duck and cover. The action is fast, furious, and bloody. It does get a bit repetitive, but you're having so much fun you barely notice! Overall, the sounds, voices, actions, weapons- it's all here!

And then... there's multiplayer! Holy cow! This is incredible! It's a bit akin to Star Wars: Battlefront. A whole bunch of players online killing each other in fairly large battlefields. Once you play a few rounds, you go up levels and open up the customizer and other classes- Tactical, Devastator, Assault (and their Chaos counterparts). This is where it gets great... you can make you're own Marine... you can pick a chapter/legion from the pre-selected builds, or you can build from scratch. I made mine look almost exactly like my Plague Marine models! Then, as you play, you open up more weapons and armor options, as well as bonus perks (like Iron Halo, Feel No Pain, etc.). This constant opening of "stuff" makes it all the more addictive- the play is furious fun, and you want to play a bit more to open up that Plasma Cannon for your Devastator/Havoc. I'm not a huge multiplayer guy, but damn this is a ton of fun!

"This game should be added to your Codex Astartes... today!"

From a 40K gamer's perspective, this game is fantastic. Action packed, fun, and ultimately VERY faithful to the source material. A 40K-er will LOVE this. As a video game, it has a few faults (single player occasionally feels repetitive, there's a few glitches, etc), but these are no worse than any other game out there. Overall, this game is everything a fan can ask for! I give this 4 our of 4 Marks of Chaos, no question. I'd love to see a sequel (play as a dreadnought in multiplayer!). Or even better, I could see them making an Inquisitor RPG next, using the Fallout engine. Imagine, your enemies could be VERY diverse (cultists, xenos, daemons), your decisions could save/kill millions, and if you go bad (radical) you'd summon Daemonhosts! Wow! Now that's a game I'd love to play.... Are you listening GW?

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