You know, there’s something laughable about the scenarios presented in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. It’s so determined to be cool and gritty at the same time that the whole thing almost feels like a parody of itself. As if the people making this thing find the whole universe completely laughable and wish to show just how utterly ridiculous it is. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, a game where you play as one of the titular Space Marines. And unlike other games, this one has it with capital letters and all. Yes, these are the real Space Marines, the codifiers of Space Marine-ing, here to show all those pussies that there shouldn’t need to be anything between a man and hordes of enemies. Well, except for a huge suit of power armour that literally makes the ground shake while you run. But hey, at least we’re not taking cover. No Sir, in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, all that “strategy” and “tactics” bullshit is thrown out of the window in favour of blindly rushing at your enemies.
This might explain why fights in the setting are so damn bloody. The Space Marines aren’t even wearing helmets. Yet not a single enemy even thinks about shooting for that. I suppose they’re just too polite and want to give you a fair chance. Might also explain why so many of them decide to rush at you with melee weapons brandished while not wearing a huge suit of armour. Either way, the game encourages, almost forces you to rush directly at enemies, common sense be damned. It’s not so much that you can’t take cover if you just stand behind something – you can – but since there’s so many melee enemies, and even the occasional suicide bomber, chances are that you’ll end up getting murdered by someone.
“They know our weakness! Run for the hills!”
The whole “tactics are for pussies” attitude that these guys seem to have is also enforced by the fact that their armour is bright blue. The game also helpfully demonstrates why all of these choices are absolutely terrible when it comes to actually fighting some enemies. I was playing on Normal. “You will die sometimes”, the game said. Now, this isn’t exactly an uncommon kind of thing for a video game to say in the difficulty setting. And I did indeed die. In almost every single instance, this was because I was standing out in the open and got swarmed with enemies like a complete moron. It doesn’t speak so well for your unstoppable superhuman protagonists when the cause for their death tends to be sheer stupidity. Then again, the enemies are pretty stupid too, as I mentioned earlier, so maybe this is just where they send a bunch of morons to die while the real soldiers fight elsewhere. I did actually meet some of those. They were using stuff like turrets and barricades. The pussies. Not for this Smurf, no Sir. My Space Marine ripped the turret out of its place and started gunning enemies down with it. RARGH, SPEHS MOHREEN SMASH!
Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine is a third-person shooter. You get to play around with a variety of weapons like a chainsaw sword, a machine gun that shoots explosive bullets, a laser cannon, a giant hammer and a number of other insane weapons. This is all par for the course for Warhammer 40,000, and I suppose that they are also needed to take down some of the tougher enemies. The game has a heavy focus on gore. Every time you shoot anything or hit it in melee, it practically explodes in a fountain of gore. For some of the smaller enemies, they quite literally just turn into blood showers. If you have lost some health, you have to perform some extra-gory finishing moves in order to regain it. Although I suppose it’s still nice to see a game use a health meter for once, since most shooters these days have decided to jump onto the bandwagon and not use it. And speaking of that health meter, there’s something weird to it. For most of the game, you’re fighting Orks. In most games, it seems a bit weird that your average shooter protagonist can fight through hordes of enemies, but those guys at least take cover and what have you. As I mentioned earlier, in Space Marine, you just rush at the enemies. Maybe this makes a bit of sense with the Orks. But once you start fighting other Space Marines and are still able to take down a few hundred on your own, the willing suspension of disbelief starts stretching a bit thin.
Especially since they all seem to be the same guy.
But despite all the silliness, once you peel away the layer of male power fantasy, what does Whoreslammer 40,000: Face Routine have to offer for someone who never heard of Orks and Space Marines and Chaos Daemons? Well, there’s a whole lot of shooting things going on, that’s for sure. The game is incredibly linear, and there’s not a whole lot of variety in it. Shooting one type of enemy doesn’t feel distinct from shooting another. This might seem like a weird kind of thing to complain about, but the thing is that there’s not really anything memorable about any of the enemies. They rush at you, you shoot or punch them to death and that’s it. I assumed that there would be more of a horror element to the latter parts of the game where you’re fighting Chaos, but no. It’s just more fighting the same enemies with new looks in the same brown ruins that make up literally every other environment in the game. And while these can be quite impressive-looking, they’re never very exciting and always feel very confined, with narrow trenches leading you from one destination to the next. Seen one brown, Gothic ruin, seen them all.
The game just feels like an attempt at cashing in on Warhammer 40,000 fans. They put a lot of work into stuff like making the Space Marine armour feel heavy, making the buildings look right and making Imperial Guardsmen about as useful in killing enemies as a dry twig would be at fending off an angry grizzly bear. For a Warhammer 40,000 fan, all these things are probably selling points, but without all of that, it’s just a mediocre third person shooter with no depth or complexity. The story’s absolutely awful too, basically being one long fetch quest. Voice acting’s fairly good though, and the game looks somewhat appealing, if very same-y. Overall, the game is incredibly bland and forgettable, but I suppose that if you really love Warhammer 40,000, it’s likely the definitive game for the franchise. As for the multiplayer, it’s absolute shit. You can’t get good stuff unless you play for a while, and you won’t play for that long, because you keep getting killed by people that have played for that long, so I’m not sure who it was made to appeal to. Non-Warhammer 40,000 fans will likely find the whole thing completely ridiculous. And Warhammer 40,000 fans would probably like something that’s more in-depth with the universe. As an example, you are at one point assisted by other Space Marines. This was an opportunity for the developers to bring in some fan favourite chapter. Instead, they chose to pat themselves on the shoulder by using the chapter that they invented, from their Dawn of War game series. I suppose real fans will just have to wait for the definitive Warhammer 40,000 game, because this isn’t it.
That would be a romantic comedy starring the Emperor.