Review of Warhammer 40K: Space Marine by THQ

For many years now, when gamers were asked about the best fantasy and science-fiction tabletop miniatures games, Warhammer 40K would have been the almost immediate answer. Published in the late 80s, Games Workshops’ products began to dominate gaming stores, and it always seemed that when I stopped by my local gaming store, there would be one or two tables surrounded by players with a 40K battle running in full swing. No one can argue that the combination of a rich and detailed fantasy/science fiction setting, coupled with awesome miniatures was bound to make the game an almost instant hit among the wargaming community.

Of course, such a successful miniatures game was bound to spawn a role-playing game as well, and Rogue Trade offered gamers a chance to create a variety of mercenary type characters in the 40K universe, which was followed up by additional classes in Dark Heresy, Death Watch, and the recently released Black Crusade. Fantasy Flight Games has been producing the 40K role-playing supplements ever since Games Workshop closed down Black Industries in 2008.

But now we’re here to talk about video games, and while Warhammer 40K has been translated into numerous tactical games, but THQ has been working on giving gamers a real-time first person shooter experience. Their first FPS in the 40K universe was Warhammer 40K: Fire Warrior, which set you as a Tau fighting both the Imperium and Chaos to free his people. But now THQ has created the FPS many 40K enthusiasts have been jonsing to play: the chance to strap on the Power Armour, and take on Orks and the forces of Chaos in Warhammer 40K: Space Marine!

Warhammer 40K: Space Marine

  • Developer: Relic Entertainment
  • Voice Actors: Mark Strong (Captain Titus), Richard Hawley (Sidonus), Noah Huntley (Leandros), Christine Roberts (Lt. Mira), Danny Webb (Inquisitor Drogan)
  • Publisher: THQ
  • Release Date: September 2011
  • Media: PC Game (DVD x2) + Steam Access
  • Retail Price: $49.99 ($39.50 from [ame="http://www.amazon.com/Warhammer-40k-Space-Marine-Pc/dp/B003TIVSM4/ref=as_li_wdgt_js_ex?&camp=212361&linkCode=wey&tag=neurogames-20&creative=380725"]Amazon[/ame])

Warhammer 40K: Space Marine is a first-person shooter (FPS) allowing a player to assume the role of Captain Titus, an Imperial Space Marine, as he battles the Orks who have invaded a Forge World, a planet sized factory, and a vital supply point for the Imperium. The Single-Player Campaign game comes with three levels of difficulty (Easy, Standard, and Hard), and offers an epic story arc of the indomitable Captain Titus as he battles to liberate the Forge World. There s also a Multiplayer online game, hosted through Steam, which allows players to battle against each other in either a “Seize Ground” mode to hold key locations the longest, or an all out “Annihilation” mode where the object is simply racking up kills against the enemy team.


The Trouble with Steam

Before I do my review, I’ve got a bit of a rant, and have to say that I am not a big fan of having to use Steam. In fact, if Steam had not been involved in the installation process, I would have been able to post a review last Wednesday for the game, as I had a copy in my hands five days before the release. But alas, even having the DVDs, Steam prevented me from installing the game on my PC until the day of the release. I know Steam is essential for the online PvP multiplayer mode of the game, but I’m never going to like having to use it as a client for a game I purchase and want to play offline. And having said that, I’ll get back to the review…



PC Game Specs

When asked if I would like the opportunity to review Warhammer 40K: Space Marine, I of course replied “YES”, after doing a minor victory dance around my laptop. I was offered either a console version or a PC game version, and given that my console was vastly out of date, I opted to go with the PC version.


Now first and foremost - and I cannot stress this enough to my fellow PC gamers out there - realize that the minimum system specs are really just a mild exaggeration at best. If your system falls at those specs – and mine did – you are not going to be able to truly enjoy Warhammer 40K: Space Marine in all its amazing glory. The processor is key, and although I had more than enough RAM and video card just shy of the recommended level, my poor little 2.0GHz Dual Core could not keep up with the demands this video game put on it.

The play was choppy, the keyboard controls sluggish, and my poor Captain Titus could not fight his way out of the first encounter on Standard difficulty. Thankfully, and I guess this is one of the advantages to having Steam, I was able to take my game over to a friend’s PC, and we were able to play it quite decently on a Dual Core 3.0Ghz machine with nary a stutter or drop in frame rate.

So just make sure your machine is up to the challenge of handling the Warhammer 40K universe in it, or you'll likely be disappointed with the results!


Graphics and Interface

The graphics in Warhammer 40K are flat-out mind-blowing amazing! The developers clearly did their research, and utilized the artistic style of the 40K universe in almost every detail, from the backgrounds in the distant horizon and game “board”layouts, to the armor and weapons of the space marines and the Orks. They really captured the futuristic-gothic-steam-punk feel of the Imperium architecture and gear, and the first time I bumped into one of the dropship weapons’ caches, shaped like a miniature cathedral spire, I found myself grinning from ear to ear at how right it looked sitting there amidst all the Ork-spawned debris.


The interface is intuitively designed, and gamers familiar with FPS or MMOs should have no trouble taking to it right from the start. Which as it happens is fairly important, as the designers decided the best way for you to get used to the controls is by dropping you in front of an Ork horde.

Literally!


Game Play

The game play of Warhammer 40K: Space Marine is exciting to say the least! As I mentioned, within ninety seconds of firing up the game, you’re dropped onto the deck of an Ork troop carrier, and swarmed by Ork gretchins and boyz. And all the while, the Warhammer 40K programmers are trying to display helpful hints on the screen about using your Bolter and Combat Knife to blast and hack your way through the Orks - most of which sadly went unread because of the sheer panic at seeing the horde closing in.


But the game play is visceral and fun once you get the controls down, and the seamless ability to switch from using a gun to a melee weapon is absolutely fantastic. For PC play, mouse 1 fires your selected gun, while mouse 2 swings your melee weapon, which negates the problem of having to switch weapons to deal with Orks in your face. And later when you get your chainsword and power axe, it’s almost more fun to wade into melee combat than fire a gun, although that enjoyment becomes short lived when a Nob or a Bomb Squig shows up! Chainsword + Bomb Squig = Dead Space Marine.

There are tons of guns in the game to play with, and each one has unique properties to recommend for it to take out Orks. There are several types of Bolter guns, including a Stalker version with a scope for sniping. One of my favorites is an Adeptus Mechanus Vengeance Launcher, which can fire up to five charges that stick to surfaces and act as explosive mines when Orks run by them – how can that not be fun?! And of course, there are frag grenades, plasma guns, and lasers, all the fun high tech weapons one would expect in a futuristic Space Marine game.

There is also a power you gain using weapons called FURY, which builds up slowly over time as you rack up piles of dead Orks. At first, FURY can be unleashed to do devastating attack routines and damage for about several seconds, plus it brings your character back to full hit points. Later, you learn Marksman mode, so that when you enter FURY you can toggle yourself into “bullet-time” and slow down the action while you make perfect shots, which is perfect for wiping out groups of sniping shoota boyz.

But despite all this great armor and weapons, expect to die on Standard mode. More than once, in fact. The sheer numbers of enemies on the screen can be overwhelming at times, and if you miss an charging Nob or Bomb Squig amidst a pack of Orks, then you’re going to be in a world of hurt very, very quickly!


Missions and Cut Scenes

The missions are really well designed, and follow a very logical progression as Captain Titus makes his way across the devastated Forge World. The objectives are clearly described, for the most part, and are updated via a commlink, with various Imperium NPCs giving new objectives and directives.


The cut scenes do a spectacular job of helping to tie the missions together, and from what I have played of the storyline, it feels like a very cohesive adventure. I should mention that the voice acting in the cut scenes is awesome, and help make the game feel like you’re almost watching a movie, where you’re in the starring role. Actually, even the voice acting of the Orks is awesome, and I had to chuckle at the thick Cockney accents as they shout out orders to kill you when you show up on the scene. In fact, I’d still be chuckling when I ripped them in half with my chainsword. Funny old Orks.

But the campaign game has a very role-play feel to it, even if you are being lead around by the nose with no real decisions on what your mission is. But hey, you’re a Space Marine, you get orders, you carry out the orders, you kill Orks that get in your way… how much more do you need to know about a mission?


Multiplayer PvP

I’ll admit that I did not participate in the PvP aspect of Warhammer 40K: Space Marine, but I watched my buddy have a go at it. I hate PvP, whether in an FPS or an MMO, probably because I know that somewhere some teenage kid with too much time, and way better hand-eye coordination, is gonna blow my butt away time and time again. But for those who love this aspect of PC gaming, and have a lower nerd-rage threshold than I do, the Multiplayer game in Space Marine is pretty awesome – even to watch.


You can play as either Imperium side or join with Chaos, and have several builds to choose: Tactical Space Marine/Chaos Space Marine; Assault Marine/Raptor; Devastator/Havoc. You start with the lowest tier of Marine, but as you fight through the Multiplayer PvP games, you gain experience points which unlocks the second and third builds fairly quickly. At higher levels, you gain additional perks for better weapons, and special abilities on your attacks. You can pre-set your weapons load-outs and perks, making specialized builds, so you can jump into the action. And if you happen to run into a guy with a higher level build who blows you away, you can exit the board and re-enter it with that same build (weapons/perks) that blew you into little pieces, so it rather levels the PvP field in that fight.


Critique

It’s honestly hard to say many bad things about this video game, because it really is such a well designed gaming experience. Certainly the controls take a bit of getting used to, as with any video game, and being dumped in a “hot zone” and expected to figure it out was rough, but you get over that pretty quickly. Replayability might be an issue, but I could see a modestly priced expansion pack making the single player fans happy with more adventures and missions to run. The Multiplayer zones were a bit repetitive, but I guess familiarity works well for everyone as they try to gain objectives and blow each other up.


Frankly, I found the game to be rock solid, and full of visual “eye-candy” that evokes the 40K universe extremely well. So not only do you have an awesome first person shooter on your hands, but you also have a great opportunity to play one of the coolest characters to come out of the world of fantasy/science-fiction wargaming – the Space Marine! Honestly, how awesome is that?

Overall Score: 4.25 out of 5.0

So until next review… I wish you Happy Gaming!

Author’s Note: This Reviewer received a complimentary copy of the product from which the review was written.

Check out another Review of Warhammer 40K: Space Marine by Tizzbin over at Neuroglyph Games!
 

Comments

Ravenmantle

Community Supporter
Having almost completed the singleplayer mission I have to say that what impresses me the most is the visual aspect of the game. While it may not be the most cutting edge graphics (at least according to some reviews I've read), the folks at Relic have managed to catch the very specific atmosphere of the 41st millennium. As I guided Captain Titus through the missions and objectives, I really felt immersed in the setting and the story and I might as well have been reading a Dan Abnett novel.

The gameplay is hectic and rather varied. There's a good mix of ranged and melee combat, often both kinds in the same encounter and in this aspect Relic really managed to capture the feel of what it must mean to be among the Emperor's finest. Captain Titus really can take quite the beating and can inflict an insane amount of kick-ass.

As far as multiplayer's concerned, that's the weak spot for the game, in my opinion. Don't get me wrong. It's fun as hell but unless new features are added to multiplayer (new modes, more equipment, more perks, etc.), I fear the fun may not last all that long. The customizer's fun to tinker with but at the end of the day, you'll settle on an armor scheme relatively quickly or, in my case, just go with one of the armor sets, such as the Black Templar set.

I spent last weekend (Sept. 9-11) playing the multiplayer game with my brothers and some friends and it was a joy. That said, when the LAN party came to an end, I didn't feel an urge to rush home, set up my computer, and find some Chaos Marines to kill. Of course, that may have been the case with any game after a weekend of almost nonstop action.

All in all, a very enjoyable game.
 

Ashilyn

Villager
Just as a note, Space Marine is a third person shooter, not a first person shooter. There's a big difference when it comes to gameplay, particularly with the melee elements.

I do find it odd that your computer couldn't handle it as well as it should have. I have a2.0ghz dual core and a video card a bit under the requirements, and it was still very playable for me.

Also, sometime in teh next few weeks, there's a patch coming to teh game that's going to add a Co-Op mode, for all the people who love playing with friends. that's definitely something to look forward whether you already have the game or not.
 

Maggan

Writer of The Bitter Reach
Nice review.

A minor detail: Dark Heresy was first among the current FFG rpgs. Then came Rogue Trader, Deatwatch and now Black Crusade.

/M
 

Maggan

Writer of The Bitter Reach
Looking forward to checking the game out.

/M
 
Last edited by a moderator:

briurso

Villager
40k video game

I LOVE THIS GAME! I have been playing Warhammer 40k since the late 80s/early 90s , just started playing the FFG roleplaying game (which kicks ass,as does the warhammer fantasty roleplaying game)....and this was the trifecta! Great Action, love that it is all UK cast! Which it should be...i dont know why, i am a huge anglophile, and loved the ultramarines film (and i dont want to debate that) the creators of warhammer fantasy/40K are Brits,and i dunno...i just automatically think the Game/movies should use uk voice actors... Love the blood, love the orcs, love the blood, love the sounds! love the blood...just a great all around game!
 

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