By: Joseph Frymire
You know how in High School there were the “cool” kids? They told cool jokes, they knew where the cool parties were going to be, and they were involved in cool sports like football. Often you’d find another kind of kid hanging out with the cool ones: They were awkward, they’d laugh too long and hard at jokes, and they’d cheer twice as loud as everyone else at the football game just so you knew they were there. They tried too hard to fit in, and their desperate attempts were just sort of painful to watch. In the video game world, Warhammer 40k: Space Marine is that poor kid.
You play as Captain Titus, an eight foot tall Ultramarine clad in enough armor to give a tank an inferiority complex. When an Imperial Forge World is invaded by marauding Orks, Titus and his squad of Space Marines are sent to assist in the world’s defense. The Orks are a decidedly odd foe; their weaponry and vehicles look like they were made by the ACME corporation, and its hard to tell whether you’re supposed to think they’re terrifying or hilarious. There are a couple of chaotic twists and turns, but the story never really goes anywhere that interesting, and it only exists to provide some weak justification as to why you’re at war.
Warhammer is part third-person shooter, part hack and slash brawler. There are a number of guns with which to destroy the Orks, ranging from your standard machine guns and pistols to more unique weapons such as the Blasta Gun that fires enormous walls of fire at your foes. And if things ever get up close and personal, you can use your chainsaw sword to carve away at the swathes of enemies the game throws at you.
Combat is a mixed bag, it’s enjoyable at first to snipe a few charging enemies then carve up those that remain, but it gets redundant very quickly. Executions are gory affairs in which Titus murders an enemy with his melee weapon in an unnecessarily brutal way to regain health, but once again these get old fast. There are only like four or five execution animations, and after you’ve seen the Captain shove his chainsaw sword up an Ork’s ass for the hundredth time it loses its shock value.
Multiplayer includes your standard Deathmatch, Assault, and Capture the Flag, and seems more like an afterthought. Its only unique feature being that you can customize the color and decal of your Space Marine’s armor. Co-op won’t be patched in until mid October.
Graphically the game is nothing special. Everything has a certain cartoonish quality to it; the gorier aspects of the game look more silly than revolting. Environments try to come off as grandiose and expansive, but end up looking more like really big hallways with neat wallpaper. If there’s one thing that knocks you right out of the game, and will very likely annoy the everliving crap out of you, is the enemy combat dialogue. The enemies know that you are a Space Marine, and by god they want you to know it too. Round a corner, “Space Marines, get them!” Shoot one, “Ha, you’ll have to do better than that, Space Marine.” Board an enemy aircraft, “Waagh, get off my ship, Space Marine!” Throughout the whole game, this NEVER stops.
The problem is that Space Marine isn’t bad, its enjoyable in the same way you enjoy junk food or reality television. Its mediocre and forgettable, but not so terrible that you turn it off in disgust. Warhammer 40k: Space Marine tries way too hard to impress you, and to be “extreme”. You aren’t just a Marine, you’re an ULTRAMARINE! You don’t use a sword, you use a CHAINSAW SWORD! The game is desperate for your affection, and you just end up pitying the poor thing.