The game is......
WARHAMMER 40,000: SPACE MARINE
The long awaited Warhammer 40K: Space Marine has finally reached my door step. Trick question... was it worth it? Let's find out in today's review...
AESTHETIC VS GRAPHICS
The graphical fidelity of this game is just fantastic! Every shadow, texture and most importantly the blood splatter is well...to die for. The visual aesthetic(artstyle) of this game takes inspiration from it's humble tabletop wargaming origin, Warhammer 40,000(40k). If you are not already aware of this universe...then you better go read wikipedia, because it's been around longer than my existance. In my opinion, the biggest success of Space Marine is how it masterfully combines both aesthetic and hardware to create a living universe that wants to keep pulling us back in.
The sheer size and visual scope of the environments (much like the ork above) is jaw-dropping. The setting takes place on an Imperial Forgeworld which is simply a planet that builds the weapons of war for the Imperium of Man. On these planets, weapons such as the Warlord Class Titans are created. To draw a mental image of how large these machines are....oh I give up here look at this...
Keep in mind that a Space Marine(Those small models) represent 7-10 feet tall super soldiers....so yeah...
DIVERGENT VS CONVENTIONAL
Space Marine is by no means a convential game; there are very few games you could compare this game to. For the most part these are mostly visual. Games like Gears of War and awkwardly enough God of War, have similiar grim and brutal visuals. However, where Space Marine differs from them is that it's not afraid to poke fun at itself. Everything in this game is brutal and blunt, but almost in a comical sort of way. One minute you feel bad for the Imperial Guardsmen(Human Soldiers) and their struggles to hold off the ork hordes. Suddenly the Orks break through and all your thinking is: "Time to kick some major Ork A#s"! I found I was throwing myself into the greentide, thrashing with my chainsword, lobbing grenades and melta gunning down a row of orks. Just to have the Orks cowardly start fleeing from my god-like presence.
The concepts the game uses are not that original, like how many games do you play as a super soldier; beating down waves of enemies like a boss? The way it blends these concepts, with dynamic settings, large set pieces and the ever evolving combats are what add to the entire experience.
CONTROLS VS LEVEL DESIGN
It's the marriage of satisfying melee and meaty ranged combat that reinvents the 3rd person genre. Sure you could kill all the enemies at a distance, but you can only regain health by pulling off an execution move in melee. However, if you try to melee every encounter the enemies will actually try different tactics, like throwing swarms of weaker troops in the way while bombing the nearby area. It's this dynamic rubber band effect that keeps your gameplay experience constantly changing, although your fighting relatively the same enemy types.
The level design is very linear, which basically means your following a scripted sequence of events that you have no control over and at the pace of the game designers. Is this a bad thing? In certain games...yeah, but not in Space Marine. A sandbox style game that allows you to accomplish a variety of story events in any order and at your own pace is alright, but for the type of story this game wants to tell, it's just not possible. You are leading a small squad of marines, that have been sent ahead of the liberation force in order to make as much of an impact in the conflict as possible. This means that every move your squad makes is crucial and that they can not afford to be wasting time with too many conflicts.
There is the potential to make a sandbox style game, but significant changes to the plot and time frame would have to be made in order to make it work. Hard to create an atmosphere of urgency if you can take as long you want to complete objectives or help bastions out. By having Space Marine being linear you can tell a dynamic story, with many interesting set pieces. It could use a bit more freedom with it's pathfinding though. Like why do I have to climb over the rubble, when I could be charging into the fray?
ENJOYMENT VS FRUSTRATION
The game has a really nice arcade feel and while it might not be as precise as other games of it's type, there is a very nice weight to the combats that makes you feel like a god.
There are very few complaints that I have with the game as a whole, but the ones that I do are significant. Certain levels feel more like padding then actual content, for instance the sewer level. The level tries to build a sense of isolation and dread for your character (Mostly because he is alone), it works for a bit, but then you say "I... am.... Space Marine"!!!! You then get back to business as usual killing greenskin filth.
I played the game at a length and I suppose after a while, certain parts of the game can drag on before the big enemy type transition(CHAOS!!). Also while the plot is interesting, it can also be rather predictable. Like any great game story however, it's not the plot that is interesting. It's the chance to run around in the game's universe as ten foot tall Spass Marine killing greenskins and Chaos tratiors that is engaging. Plot moments when you find auto logs of civilians/soldiers that really help cement the tone and atmosphere. Others where you can recreate the tabletop wargame, like holding the line at all costs with fellow marines and guardsmen, is where this game's story telling strikes a cord. Show...don't tell or better yet... imagine then enact, is how every game should tell a story.
If I really had to crack down on the game though, it's with these two areas: A) Complexity and B) Multiplayer(More on this in a second). The game as a whole is not very complex, every encounter has a solution and some are more obvious then others. Your teammates kind of are just there and don't really add anything except exposition about the situation. The jump pack sections, while extremely fun are few and far between.
If I had to describe the Space Marine multiplayer in one word, it would be: Functional. It's not bad or broken, it's just lackluster. I played the game on the Xbox 360 and I found out that the multiplayer is played with P2P(Peer to Peer) severs. What this basically means is that one player acts as the host and everyone links up to his machine/internet. Unfortunately, if you are playing from lets say Australia and happen to be linked up with people from Europe. Depending on who is the host, you may get extreme lag; resulting in your death or a perfectly clear connection that will give you an edge(usually the host). Dedicated severs could potentially help this problem.
While killing your hated Space Marine brothers across the interwebs can be very rewarding and fun, there needs to be more. At the moment there is only two game modes: basically capture control points and death match, they are very bare bones.
The biggest draw to the multiplayer is the customizer which allows you to tweak every aspect of your Space Marine(Chaos Space Marine as well). Not every piece of kit is available, so you do have to earn them over time. What Relic has done to help keep power creep out of the game is to provide a copy loadout option, that lets you basically copy the loadout of your killer.
Looking deeper at the multiplayer I can really see the root of the problem. It's not the same game. The best parts of the main game are killing scores of orks pretty much by yourself. Even when you get to kill the Chaos Space Marines, there are tons of smaller fodder enemies that get in the way, helping to provide health and fury building up. The mulitplayer is very much, player vs Player, not man vs the world. It just does not work with this type of game formula that has already been established.
But, I am not just a negative Nancy, so here are my suggestions for some future multiplayer innovations that Relic could add to this game.
-Keep the playstyle the same(Squad vs Squad), but add in extra mobs or creeps to provide bulk. Think of it as a 3D League of Legends game, which has extra NPC(Non-Playable Characters) guardsmen running around on both sides to provide weight to the combats and encounters.
-Provide a horde mode(Zombie type mode) where most of the players are orks, nobs and other stuff that can take on 3 space marines. As the marines you can get the same fun from the single player game(with friends :D ). As the orks you can have the fun of being torn appart or actually taking down a marine with combined tactics.
THE FINAL VERDICT..........
A great surprise hit for the fall season that just reeks of fun. Space Marine has fantastic engaging set pieces, conflicts and characters to keep players coming back to kill more orks. While the multiplayer is a bit lackluster, it is functional and has a fairly decent customization options to warrent giving it a try.
Needless to say, hearing orks shout: SPAcces MArines!! Will never get old, before and after you curve stomp them. :)
Players that want a truly unique and satisfying experience this fall. I had a really great time playing Space Marine and there is value in owning and playing this game. I recommend playing the main storyline in small bursts. While the multiplayer should not be taken too seriously, it is still very fun and enjoyable for a random afternoon. I will still be playing this game alot in the near future.
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR.....
Players that are looking for complex gameplay and many layers of progression. While still a challenging game, it's not the hardest game by any stretch. Also once you have beaten the game there are not many reasons, other than the main campaign to keep playing. The multiplayer is alright, just do not expect too much depth or complexity.
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