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09.05.2020

The Emperor's Flaming Angel of Death (Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine review)

As is common knowledge, the universe of Warhammer 40,000 exists in a state of brutal, neverending war. After the Dawn of War -series, Relic Entertainment made a game that would be all about the brutal life of an individual soldier. Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine is an admirable, if not entirely satisfactory attempt at depicting that grim life.


Story


Graia, a Forge World of the Imperium, has come under attack by a massive number of orks. Not only are Forge Worlds vital for the Imperium's military industry, the planet is also a production facility for the legendary warmachines, the Imperial Titans. As such, losing the planet would be a major disaster for the Imperium. Space marines are contacted to repel the invasion, and the Ultramarines answer the call. It's now up to Captain Titus to lead the famed 2nd company of the Ultramarines into battle and push back the attacking aliens. It won't be a small task, however. For there's only a handful of space marines against a massive horde of orks.

The Emperor's Wrath


The game is a combination of third-person shooter and hack and slash. There's a number of ranged weapons to use, such as bolter and lascannon, but it's possible to carry only a few at a time. Should the situation so require, the enemies can also be fought in close quarters. As a matter of fact, it's almost recommended to face enemies in melee quite often, since the game features no health packs – the only way to restore health is by executing the enemies with gory finishing moves. Of course that doesn't mean it's smart to charge head on into every fight, particularly if you're facing several enemies with long-range weapons. Additionally, damaging enemies fills up your rage meter. Once full, it can be activated for a brief time, during which you deal increased damage and the enemies move in slow motion. The rage can be used both in melee or ranged combat. The game shows the grim nature of the setting quite well: basically every environment you explore is in ruins as a result of all the fighting, and many of the locations are littered with corpses of guardsmen. You won't find beautiful places in this game.

Verdict


Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine offers a good combination of both melee and ranged combat, and fittingly, it's also quite bloody. Unfortunately, despite the action, I feel the game is quite plain in several categories. First of all, why must the player-controlled Space Marine be the most generic and plain choice, an Ultramarine? There are several options that would have been more interesting: a Blood Angel struggling against the 'Red Thirst', a Space Wolf who is at the risk of becoming a Wulfen, or an Iron Hand replacing parts of his body with cybernetic enhancements. Second, while there's variation among enemy types, there are only two enemy factions in the game: the orks and the chaos space marines, and the combat gets relatively repetitive rather quickly. Which is rather unfortunate, since fighting is pretty much the only thing to do in the game. I wouldn't necessarily call the game bad, but occasionally it feels like wasted potential that could have been something far, far greater. Like an open world game instead of a linear story-based game, for instance.

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