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Tizzbin’s Tirades: STOP! HAMMER TIME! 40K!

“Show me a fortress and I’ll show you a ruin.”

-Captain Eddan Bourne, No. 2 Assault Company

warhammer space marine coverGreetings, salutations, and welcome to another installment of Tizzbin’s Tirades.  Today, we’re going to be discussing Warhammer 40K: Space Marine, the new THQ epic which hit store shelves last week.  But before we really delve into the game itself, we should start with a few questions:

  • Do you like indiscriminately shooting with wild abandon into a sea of Orks boiling out of every corner of a game environment?
  • Do you enjoy slow-motion pornographic portrayals of gory body parts dancing across your screen after being hewn asunder with a mighty blow from your chainsword?
  • Have you dreamed of running across scenic wastelands while playing the role of an 8 foot tall death-dealer with a stick up his arse?


If you answered “HELLS YES” to any of these questions, then Warhammer 40K: Space Marine may well be a game for you!

A little background when it comes to my own play experience: I have never been much of a war-gamer.  This is blasphemy, I know… so the best I can do is write a review based solely on my own experience with the game and how I felt about it, given my love of RPG games and first person shooters.  After playing the game, I will say that I would feel more inclined to screw around a bit with a 40K tabletop battle, though I don’t think that, by default, every person with a 1500 point Space Marine Army will necessarily love it.  So now, down to business…

The GOOD

To be honest, I’m still smoking a cigarette and basking in the afterglow of a solid week of playing this game.  Let me start off with the delicious graphics (aka the Luscious Pixels): The game itself is visually breathtaking!  Even though the game starts out with a jaunt through the equivalent of a war-torn junkyard, I still found myself getting momentarily wrapped up in the environment itself.  I do say “momentarily” of course, because any downtime you might have in the game is brief, and usually will involve you catching your breath, loading up on ammo, and running back into the fray.

The combats themselves are fierce and ferocious – and it’s obvious that the designers wanted to give a true “adult” feel to the action.  To say the game is ‘bloody’ is a bit of an understatement, but it’s so much damn fun that you don’t even notice how laughable the gore is.  It reminded me of the best works by Peter Jackson.  No, not the hobbit movies… this game reminds me of the scene in Dead Alive where Lionel hoists up the lawnmower and declares, “Party’s over!” before shredding rows of zombies.  It’s laughable at times, but still enjoyable to watch the carnage.

They’ve done a great job of taking ranged and melee combat and melding them together in a way that feels fairly natural.  Like in many games on the market right now, there are some negatives to having a set “swing rotation” (when you know your character is going to swing 3-4 times and then do a “finisher” swing for massive damage).  Once you get into the game, weapon swapping becomes a bit more second nature and you can manage to whip out the right tool for the right job when you need it.

I should also mention that the missions are varied and have a good feel to them, with cut scenes that help the game flow quite well from scene to scene.  I think that people rarely put enough emphasis on the acting in cut-scenes and how it can affect your gameplay experience.  You really do put yourself in the mental role of the Space Marine, and after a short time, I’ll admit that I found myself being a little “aggressive”.  If for no other reason, the voice acting goads you into feeling a sense of righteousness in combat.  Most times in first person shooters, I want to take things slowly and get the drop on the enemy rather than running like a kid chasing his ball into a busy intersection… and this intersection happens to filled with orks and exploding squigs!  But after a short time playing, I found myself reacting to the sound of Ork taunts in the distance by hammering on the sprint button!

The BAD

Honestly, I like the game so much I’m going to be grasping at straws here, so stick with me.  The game starts and assumes a level of experience with first person shooters.  This is fine and all, but on occasions, the designers do this crazy thing where words of instruction pop onto the screen, and I’m expected to read them.  This would be more convenient if the instructions didn’t pop on the screen as something in the distance explods, and an army of angry mini-orks (gretchins) was charging down at me.  Strangely, my attention was on SURVIVAL, rather than educating myself on the finer art of the control interface.  Granted, in time I figured out what those handy little things I might have missed…  like grenades.  I’ll admit it, I somehow missed that little instructional “hint” that I even had grenades until suddenly I let one fly.  Imagine my righteous Space Marine amusement!

With the control aspects, I also have to say that this game suffers from the gratuitous slow-mo affliction that seems to be creeping into many games these days: If you cover my screen with blood and then speed up and slow down the action, while flashing lights and making little squidgy/crunchy sounds at me, I may miss the fact that some Ork-douche is spraying bullets into my ass, which was left hanging out in the breeze after my amazing “ultra-kill” combo.  We get it… 300 was a cool movie, but it’s time to let it go.

I’ll also throw in there one additional critique regarding multiplayer.  Here’s the thing, the guy who is level 41 and is one-shotting me with a weapon/abilities that I won’t see for about 20+ hours of gameplay?   HATE HIM!   And sometimes, I hate the programmers for letting him exist in the same PvP instance as me.  Sure, I get it… people put time and energy into something, it only make sense that they would improve.  But until I realized that I could steal the build of the person who killed me, I was a PvP ‘Sad Panda’ there for a while.

The GOOD note: the fact that you can steal your opponents build?  Umm… yeah… it actually kicks ass mightily.

The OVERALL

I’d rate this game pretty damn high.  The single player game is phenomenal and held my attention, which says a lot considering my ADD, and the fact that I had a BETA of a game, that shall go unnamed, which I could have been playing instead of kicking Ork butts.  Once you’ve run through the game, however, the replayability seems like it may be limited, unless you’re a glutton for abuse and crank it up to Hard Mode.  Also, the multiplayer options for the moment seem like they could get old fairly fast, considering how few maps I actually feel like I went through.  But the real test of time will be where the game goes from here, because with a little more nurturing and maybe a patch to add some new multiplayer options, I think this game would become a “must own”.

For the time being, though, I still throw it in the Highly Recommended category!

Editor’s Note: Be sure to check out Neuroglyph’s Review of Warhammer 40K: Space Marine over on EN World!


About The Author

Editor-in-Chief
Michael is an Adept of a Secret Order of Dungeon Masters, and dwells in a hidden realm with his two evil cat-familiars, deep within the Vale of Wolverines, called by some "Michigan". He has been esoterically conjuring D&D Campaigns for nearly a Third of a Century, and has been known to cast ritual blogs concerning Dungeons & Dragons every few days with some regularity. Michael has freelanced for Wizards of the Coast, and writes reviews of D&D and other Role-Playing Game products on EN World News.

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