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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Action / Shooter

 

Publisher

THQ

 

Developer

Relic Entertainment

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

September 6, 2011

 

 

- Great heft to the melee combat
- Aerial bombardment of the enemy is awesome
- Hints at the kind of full-on crazy of the Warhammer 40K universe

 

 

- Cool climax to the game is partially ruined by quicktime event
- The central MacGuffin for the whole game is either extremely dangerous or a package of marshmallows

 

 

DVD Review: Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40,000 Movie

Review: Gears of War 2 (360)

Review: Warhammer: Battle March (360)

Review: Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon (360)

 

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Warhammer 40,000:

Space Marine

Score: 8.5 / 10

 

space marine          space marine

 

I know I'm getting old by the fact I don't skip cutscenes anymore. Were they always this crazy?

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine is like a showcase for insanity. The central MacGuffin -- the element that drives the story forward for most of the game -- the player is told, on multiple occasions, is a power source with the potential to destroy the Imperial Forge World, where the entirety of the game takes place. So, I guess it makes some kind of sense in the Warhammer 40K universe to put this extremely

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powerful element in a case that a lone Space Marine (really, an Ultramarine) wears on his hip like some kind of apocalyptic cell phone. This would be a great plan if the Ultramarine, Titus, flew to safety rather than fling himself into hordes of Orks.

But I have a certain capacity for Disbelief Suspension when it comes to video games, though I do get the impression that the

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capacity is diminishing, so it's not like it was a turn off. In fact, I thought the cutscenes really helped put some meat on the bones of my knowledge of Warhammer 40K.

The action did much more to draw me into the game. Developer Relic Entertainment has done a great job making the Ultramarines play like complete bad-asses, with levels of self-control and cool rarely demonstrated by a genre that brought us, "Eat shit and die!" There's a great balance of melee and shooting here and the transition is seamless. Blast some Orks or Chaos Legions to thin them out a little then charge in and lay them low with some really brutal melee combat, which is necessary to replenish Titus's health bar. It works really, really well and since there are plenty of opportunities to change Titus's load-out I never got bored with the weapons (especially the shotgun-like Melta Gun) or squashing and slicing through some really big hordes.
 

space marine          space marine

 

There's one weapon that's not really a weapon. The jet pack Titus acquires a few times through the course of the game not only provides extra mobility, it can turn Titus into a Ultramarine Meteor that explodes lesser enemies and knocks everything else into the air. After jumping into the air, a crosshair paints on the ground to mark Titus's landing point and from there it's reminiscent of the Incredible Hulk's ground pound. If Relic doesn't have plans to release an extra jet pack, crash mode, bowling mash-up for high scores, they should get those plans moving along. I would play that over and over again. In fact, the only parts of the story I replayed were levels I had access to the jetpack.

There are promises already of additional DLC to keep players coming back including a Horde mode (holding out against wave after wave of increasingly tough enemies) and a co-op mode through the story but right now, the only online features are 8-vs-8 multiplayer with two different modes: Annihilation (team death match) and Seize Ground (which reminded me of Bad Company 2's Conquest mode) where each team vies for control of a specific location on the map. Relic did a good job with the different character classes, experience point and upgrade systems, including the ability to customize the look of your Space Marine, which is a hallmark of the tabletop source material. It didn't quite grab me enough to make me forget my go-to multiplayer game on the 360, Bad company 2, but it feels like there's some potential to do more cool things to service the fans of Warhammer 40K.

 

space marine           space marine


Unless you're a Relic employee, skip this paragraph because I'm about to go off the rails. I'd like to see a "Fire from Above" mode where one side hovers over an open battlefield with their jetpacks. Each player gets three bombardments to use to prevent their opponents from making a successful run across the map to grab the power source and return it to base. Relic, take that one and run with it!

Space Marine is a satisfying action game. In my mind it has become the high water mark when it comes to the melding of melee and ranged combat because it's so seamless. And while the multiplayer didn't really grab me, there's enough enjoyment to be had with the single-player that I'd have no problem telling a friend to check out Space Marine.

You, reader, are that friend.

- Aaron Simmer

(September 14, 2011)

 

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