Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine
Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine Cover
Platforms PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows
Genre Whack and mash
MtAMinutes to Action 5
Keep Playing? No
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I find it kind of amazing that I grew up as a geek and never experienced any of the Warhammer 40,000 gaming culture. This is a tabletop game that has expanded far beyond the living room, including graphic novels, movies, books, and lots of video games.

Released last September from Relic Entertainment, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine stars one of the more popular aspects of the lore: Ultramarines. Super soldiers in huge armor that are seemingly unmatched on the battlefield. To the Warhammer ignorant, they may look like rip offs of the COG soldiers from Gears of War, which is a rather unfortunate comparison considering Warhammer has been around since 1987 and has undoubtedly inspired dozens of video game universes itself, including Gears.

So it’s time for me to take my first steps into the Warhammer 40,000 universe with Space Marine on the PlayStation 3. In one hour, I’ll know whether or not I want to stay any longer.

Notable Minutes

I’m approaching this hour a bit differently in terms of notes, instead of what’s happening, I’m giving you all the funny sounding phrases said in the game. Just say them out loud with a British accent and you can recreate the experience at home.

00 - “In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war.”

02 - “Deploying the Ultramarines.”

07 - “Crush the spice marines!” Yes, it really does sound like spice.

12 - “The Emperor be with you, space marine.”

16 - “The Codex Astrates says not to jump blindly into enemy territory.”

19 - “My Lord, you have saved us.”

Space Marine Orks

20 - “Leftenant.” “Leftenant.” “Leftenant.” They keep saying that word. All right, I looked this up and apparently “lieutenant” is pronounced “leftenant” in the Queen’s English. The more you know.

“They got to see a space marine before the end.”

28 - “Imperial Guard, we are Ultramarines, open this door.”

36 - “You have survived this long on your own, now you are not alone.”

42 - “Look at these cables. They must be powering Ork contraptions across the battlefield.”

50 - “Leandros, you do the chapter proud.”

57 - “Keep clear, this is a not a drill.”

Space Marine ork Blood Gore

First Hour Summary

Minutes to Action: 5

Oh man, did this hour have framerate issues. I feel like during points of heavy action I would be getting 15 frames per second and sometimes it fell to around one frame per second. Even the cutscenes were stuttering from start to finish, it was getting to the point where I was getting concerned about my PlayStation 3. I did some token research and it doesn’t seem to be a big issue on the PS3, so now I am concerned about my PS3.

Even beyond the giant battle suits, Space Marine has a ton of direct comparisons to the Gears of War series. The main character does the slow walk while communicating with headquarters, you can perform the same roadie run, and there’s a freaking chainsword at your disposal. Thankfully, Space Marine eschews the cover-based shooting with God of War style melee, it feels like much faster paced action this way. So in conclusion, the shooting is GoW (Gears of War) and the combat is GoW (God of War).

Slashing at orks is pretty satisfying, the massive horde of them at any given time means you’re always hitting meat, and most of them explode with a smile. There’s also a pretty good balance in health to ork ratio, I would often be way down in life just as the last ork was slain, mostly because they don’t just attack one at a time either. You can regain health mid-battle by pulling off an execution kill on an ork which somehow drains their lifeforce from a basic, brutal kill. I’m interested if this is a canon ability in Warhammer.

The supercharged roadie run is also a fun tactic to pull off as the orks give a exhilarating crunch beneath your armor. Most of the guns feel less than satisfying, and seem sort of out of place in a game with so many bad guys at once.

I also nabbed a jet pack power-up about halfway through the hour which made my Ultramarine even more invincible. Being able to fly around the screen and get a bird’s eye view of the battle felt very non-Gears of War-ish.

But the combat, while drenched in blood and limbs, just doesn’t feel fresh. Space Marine could almost be Dynasty Warriors: Orks vs. Humans. The levels were highly linear and slowly walking between battles just highlighted the dead space. Most of the energy escaped out of the game as soon as the initial jump from outer space was over, there were no bosses, two types of enemies, and the same battle phrases shouted over and over (all in British accents, even the orks).

Bias: I’m pretty sick of the Gears of War series after the second game, but as I said earlier, I have had zero exposure to the Warhammer universe before Space Marine.

Would I Keep Playing? No, though I can imagine the bloody action of Space Marine would appeal to a lot of gamers, it just feels derivative and overdone. There wasn’t a lot beyond the jet pack in the game’s first hour which had me believing there wasn't much original action to come, so I feel like I’ve had enough. Plus the framerate issues, yuck.