Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine
Developer: Relic Entertainment
Genre: Action \ Third-Person Shooter
Price: Rs 550 (Letsbuy.com)
The Warhammer 40,000 universe is a perplexing construct. It houses a legion of extraterrestrial races, astute gods of Chaos, hideous daemons, superhumans, and parallel dimensions. In the midst of such pandemonium, the last hope for the Imperium of Man lies in the Space Marines. Despite their loyalty to the Emperor of Mankind, never have the Space Marines received enough honour to star in a game of their own. So what happens when Relic Entertainment and THQ bring these warriors to the forefront of this multi-layered galaxy?
After making merry in the RTS genre, Warhammer 40k hits ground zero in the Action sphere. Though it doesn't bring anything new to the genre, this instalment fills the vacuum that has long existed in the epic saga. It explores the joy of hack-and-slash in a way that the series never has.
In The Service Of The Emperor!
A smashing prologue unveils the perils of living in the brutal world of Warhammer 40k. Captain Titus, an Ultramarine, dominates the story from the word go, and you can almost feel the power of being a superhuman in his armour. But don't mistake him for just any ordinary badass on the fringes of insanity. Devoted to serving the Emperor, our hero spouts one-liners such as "Life is the Emperor's currency, spend it well", and "It is better to die for the Emperor than to live for yourself". He is fanatically committed to the service of the Empire and demonstrates it on Forge World Graia, a planet distinctly carved out for the production of Titans.
Accompanied by two other Ultramarines, Sergeant Sidonus and Leandros, Captain Titus arrives at a weapons factory under Ork attack. From slimy, skinny Orks to colossal ones armed with heavily-loaded guns, everyone appears desperate to kill the Marines. Apparently, there is no one clear reason for their actions. The ambiguity of this situation hovers around till the plot unfolds and the darker intricacies of one Inquisitor Drogan are revealed.
A Blood Fest
In a pre-release trailer of the game, Campaign Lead, Matthew Berger remarked, "Everybody who makes a game is really hoping in some ways that eventually they are going to be making movies that they can play, and Space Marine is pretty much an evolution of that". Is it evolutionary? Not really, in the literal sense of the term. But what really turns the tide for this iteration is the narrative's thirst for gore and violence. It is essentially a feast of blood - so much so that fans of the genre can almost lick it to the bone.
When pitted against hordes of Orks and Daemons, the game can well awaken the Dark Passenger in anyone. To add to that, the assortment of weapons, cannons, and grenades adds just the right amount of excitement. Certain incessant fight sequences have opponents unleashing simultaneous attacks from all corners. In a frame where innumerable tough and weak rivals appear together, a combo of melee and gun combat works best. Some fight sequences look borrowed from your typical Michael Bay flick, especially when the Captain wields the Chainsword and Thunder Hammer to tear apart his foes.
To ensure a continuous bloodbath, ammo and grenades have been strategically placed across levels. This helps to keep up the war spirit, even though some brawls might not be as exhilarating. There are also occasional jump packs to make your life simpler, and their appropriate use can really turn numerous opponents into mincemeat.
The finely concocted plot has more highs than lows, and manages to offer a tightly-paced experience for about 8 to 10 hours. Besides, crisp cutscenes effectively direct the story, as opposed to titles that boast of unwanted, elaborate videos under the guise of a "cinematic experience".
Even after having all the makings of a true blockbuster, Space Marine falls short on numerous counts. Performing an execution move on an enemy in order to gain health when you're running low is one of them. The satisfaction derived from these scenes is often wrecked by uneasy camera angles and unwanted strikes from other baddies, resulting in frequent deaths. Also, one minor complaint I have is that while carrying a Thunder Hammer, only two guns can be employed instead of four. Furthermore, the online campaign is way too restricted, with only two maps to choose from.
An Appetizing Audio-Visual Treat
If tabletop figurines are what come to mind when someone mentions Warhammer 40K, then the graphics immaculately paint that picture. Relic has pulled off the amazing task of keeping it artistic and real, yet animated. The in-game environments are alive, burning, and varied. From a rusting factory to a barren desert, a running train, and falling skies, it all adds to the experience. The detailing is deep but not extensive, which spoils the otherwise elaborate design.
Another letdown is the fact that not all environments are destructible, forcing you to move along a certain path. You also cannot jump or climb without the aid of a jump pack, for that matter. Furthermore, large numbers of adversaries eager to feast on Space Marine flesh can really put you in a spot, especially when the camera moves in a haphazard fashion. There's no doubt that the visuals stick out, but even some of the well-crafted scenes are occasionally overshadowed by awkward camera angles. The rest of the design has been implemented well and thankfully, there are no predominantly dull moments as such.
What really takes the cake though are the acoustics. The audio only gets better with every level, as even minute details such as blowing wind and falling debris are accounted for. There are also collectible audio logs spread across the realm that fuel a little excitement and add to the story. Mark Strong's voicing abilities do the trick for Captain Titus, but this isn't true for other characters, who are explored in lesser detail. And in case there's a second Space Marine in the making, the dialogues could do with a face lift too!
The Warhammer 40,000 series has been pretty much a dark horse in the video game realm. While it has the perfect ingredients for an action setting, this has not been fully realised - until now. Following this latest instalment of the title, things will hopefully take a positive turn for this corner of the cosmos. In short, Space Marine does for the series what the iPhone did for Apple.
While this game isn't the next best thing out there, it's still an enjoyable fest, albeit a tad too short. It offers a multitude of weapons to choose from to battle on a desolate planet that makes for the perfect Ork hunting ground. The storyline, graphics and audio work well together, but certain camera and gameplay issues mar the experience.
Nevertheless, going by the way it all concludes, don't be surprised if Captain Titus and his brothers return to occupy a few more pages in the Warhammer saga.
Gameplay And Design: 3.5/5
Overall Rating: 3.5/5