Today I played a Gears of War game set in the Warhammer 40k universe.
Shortly after its release, I heard a lot of good things about Space Marine but with the abundance of higher profile titles I never got around to buying it. When it popped up as a freebie on Playstation Plus, I knew the time was right and quickly added it to my backlog. Like most backlog games, it sat on my HDD for months unplayed and unnoticed which is a shame because this game is actually quite fun. To say that Space Marine takes a few cues from Gears of War would be a bit of an understatement. It’s essentially a carbon copy, with little done to differentiate the two. The cover-based shooting mechanic, characters, and even the feel of the game are strikingly similar. It doesn’t help that the universes share a lot in common appearance-wise. Yes, I know Warhammer existed long before Gears, but most people who aren’t familiar with Warhammer wouldn’t see much difference.
Fortunately, the similarity isn’t condemnation of the game’s quality (outside of a lack of creativity) as the old mantra “imitation is the best form of flattery” definitely applies. Space Marine is solid through and through and nails the most important aspect of an cover-based third person shooter – the cover-based shooting! Your character, Ultramarine Captain Titus, moves smoothly through the environments, snapping to cover at the press of a button. Aiming and shooting are also handled admirably, making it easy to lock on and eliminate any Ork threat you encounter along the way. If you’ve played any modern TPS, you’ll immediately feel at home with the controls here. The weapons are fun to use and varied with plenty of enemies to turn into piles of goo which makes the 6-10 hour campaign fly by.Graphics are what you’d expect from a game released at this point in this console generation – solid but not spectacular with some nice lighting effects and lots of earth tones. A few years ago, the amount of enemies on screen at a time would have been a lot more impressive, but it’s nothing I haven’t seen in older games such as Kameo or Dead Rising which came out long before. Again, this isn’t a knock on the quality on display, it’s just not mind-blowing. The game rarely suffers any performance hiccups and slowdown/graphical glitches were nearly imperceptible throughout.
The story did little to grab me from the get go so I can’t really speak to it, but I would imagine that those invested in the Warhammer universe would find it much more enjoyable. To me, it felt like a bunch of “bros” going around killing a bunch of baddies with the ultimate goal of stopping some bigger baddie and world ending threat. Meh, I’ve heard this too many times before to be interested but I think given the type of game, it’s perfectly acceptable. One thing I did love was the “trash talking” the Orks would do, particularly the bosses. It’s quirky and allowed the game to not take itself so seriously which is definitely welcomed in this era of macho military/space shooters.Despite its similarity to Gears of War, Space Marine is still a good 6-10 romp and – much like the orks you’re mowing down – makes for perfect weekend backlog fodder. Despite the middle-of-the-road tangible elements and similarities to more popular shooters, this game has just the right mix of solid gameplay and quirky charm to make it worth your time.
Final Rating: 7/10
Console Played On: PS3
Time to Completion: 6-10 hours
Gamerscore Earned: 23% (Trophies)
Price Bought At: Free (Playstation Plus)
Current Price: $6.85 (PC – Amazon), $17.75 (PS3/X360 – Amazon), $30 (Steam)
Recommended Purchase Price: $10-15
Why You Should Buy It: It’s mindless fun in the Warhammer universe
Why You Shouldn’t Buy It: Linear levels and limited enemy types grow old about midway through