In the grimm darkness of the far future there is only Ork … Erm… Waaagh! I mean, war. Still, none of this is far from truth actually what you’ll see in this game.
Space Marine is pretty simple game which story revolves around one mission basically. One mission that has gone wrong and so it becomes separated in multiple chapters. It’s a tough life of a Space Marine and we see it here firsthand. A simple story, a small story, but a proper story. As far as the gameplay goes one could say if it’s called Gears of WarHammer it would be close enough. Hard to beat that one really, although there are a few different nuances that go little beyond it; such as the series of melee combat moves and a few different combos that go with it.
On the first sight, the combat looks incredible. Enemies are aggressive and vicious, combining different classes, tactics and weaponry as well as the player character. But it’s not all in getting the right formula alone. What Space Marine lacks compared to Gears are many carefully placed subtle details that paint the picture of depth to the main characters just like the story and the events in it. In this one, characters are ok but “just ok”. There is literally nothing more to them other than their main portrait in the story.
The story is extremely predictable but it’s delivered well. One thing that is completely missing however is humor. In Dawn of War series we laughed or chuckled on many anegdotes and Ork behavior issues. Here we’re seeing lots, and lots of Orks, but even with them, the funny side is non-existent. Strangely enough, it’s not hurting really, since we’ve used to bleakness in WarHammer universe, but given the fact that there are only two enemy classes in the entire game (Orks & Chaos) each of those lacking aspects becomes much more significant and ultimately affects the overall experience of the game and it’s score.
The other thing that this game didn’t understood from Gears concept is the game difficulty. Remember those “explosive tickles”, running to you from all directions in the dark room? In the first Gears game it was in one level only and for a good reason – it’s incredibly annoying and frustrating on higher difficulties. Here, someone actually thought that puting explosive rats between hordes of rushing Orks constantly is a good idea! Well we do have a power armor so it has to work better right? – Wrong! They still kill you on direct impact instantly even on Easy difficulty – which btw. is a joke in itself since it’s certainly not easy in many of these scenarios. Simply put: The balance is highly flawed and the design of battles is sometimes terrible. There is a solid top 3 ways to die in this game: Running explosives, rains of grenades and charging bosses for the instant kill – that’s really it. Still, we could theoretically count those extremes for a hardcore WarHammer 40k experience and it could make some sense …theoretically.
When it comes to the bosses, they’re challenging, but not really interesting as the battle design is lazy and there is no health meter which makes first encounters awkward and tedious, especially considering that one-shot-kill mechanic. The worst however is the final boss fight, so don’t get your hopes there, at all.
Visually the game looks great and is very well optimized to endure all that mayhem under stable framerate while keeping all those details, reflections and particles in place, which make levels beautiful on their own. Beautiful as the vast ships, cityscapes and ruins of them can be of course.
The sounds are very well done with alot of attention to detail. However the balance between them seem a bit uneven, though there are options for adjusting some of them, yet still… The soundtrack on the other hand, has no issues and is very, very good. There are some brief audio logs of various characters scattered across the levels, giving some depth to the story, if you’re willing to look for it. However, you can either listen it on the spot, or take it for latter listening in the game menu. There are no other options.
As the story progresses, we learn that Orks are not the only enemy in the game, and thank the Emperor for that. But the other ones are even uglier, which is easier to shoot atleast. The legions of chaos are stronger, fierce and relentless (not counting footman zombies). It is a proper challenge and force to be reckoned with (until they start throwing grenades on you in closed environment). However still, if anything will stay in the memory of this game after some time – it is that signature Ork invasion.
If Ultramarines, Orks and Chaos legions are your favorite factions than you’re right at home here. Anyone else, play with tolerance, not much expectations and you’ll have fun. Space Marine is brief, flawed and limited, but it is also a proper Warhammer 40k game that dwells in “A work day in life of the Space Marine” and shows just how crazy and brutal it can be. Stomping action from start to finish, hordes of enemies, constant explosions, Space Marine job chatters and not much else. It is a blast for one weekend of a Warhammer 40k fan. Fire and forget.
FINAL SCORE 74%
BTW. This game with it’s concept, and the story direction has started something what could easily result in a very interesting and strong sequel, but we’ll see. Only time will tell.