9/08/2011

Review: Space Marine

About a month ago, I preordered Space Marine from Walmart.com (so I could get the 'relic bolter' skin in multiplayer). As the first game I've ever bought on its release day, Space Marine did not disappoint.

Space Marine: Go hard or go home!
The plot centers around three Ultramarines sent to the forge world planet of Graia, after receiving a distress call from an Inquisitor named Drogan warning of an Ork invasion.

As expected, there are some twists and turns in the story. But this is pretty normal for anything 40K.

One of the interesting notes about the Xbox 360 achievements is that there is only one for beating the game... and it requires hard mode. So unlike Halo 3, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Aliens vs. Predator, Call of Duty: Black Ops, and so many other games, it has no achievement for completing it on easy or normal.

That being said, I decided to go for it and try it on hard mode. Surprisingly, it wasn't too bad. A bit of a challenge, but not as hard as I had feared.

However, I did notice that the two Ultramarines that travel alongside you actually do very little in terms of help. In fact, if we were to focus this review solely on them, they'd be the game's entire downfall. They literally stand around until attacked. When a horde of Orks swarmed us, they'd stand still, fire a few bursts of bolter fire, and be overwhelmed in a matter of seconds. Then once they had four or five Orks hitting them with choppas, they'd pull out chainswords and slash at them a couple of times. Even their bolts seem to do less damage than mine, and they have horrendous aim.

Thankfully, the companions are invincible, but when turrets are involved, they're not targeted. This makes tactical decisions such as having an ally distract the turret while you destroy it impossible.

Inquisitor Drogan himself says in the game, "[The turrets] will target anything unfortunate enough to move," and yet there's your companions just walking around like absolute dolts directly in front of turrets neither shooting at them nor being shot at, like it's a warm sunny day and they're on the beach.

These are supposed to be battle-hungry Space Marines! The Emperor's fury! Major facepalm in this area.

But I digress, that minor gameplay irritation barely affects the game as a whole. And I doubt most players would even notice it.

Inquisitor Drogan

The controls are, for the most part, pretty easy and basic. The only difficulty I've had so far, which appears to be shared by others, is controlling my character when he's wearing a jump pack. The jump pack provides a quick, two-shot burst from its engines, sending you high into the air, but jump distance and flight steering is much more limited than a player would expect.

That, and landing is incredibly annoying. Sure, you could land with a "ground pound" with enemies nearby, but multiplayer seems to be a mass confusion of "Where'd he go? He was right under me a second ago!" followed by spamming the X button (melee attack) and rotating in circles hoping to hit someone that has apparently disappeared. And usually upon landing, you'll die in a hail of bullets before your combat weapon even strikes your intended opponent.

The weapons are your typical Imperial arsenal: chainsword, power axe, power sword, thunder hammer, bolt bistol, plasma pistol, bolter, stalker-pattern bolter, storm bolter, meltagun, plasmagun, heavy bolter, lascannon, plasmacannon, and autocannon. The NPC Guardsmen use standard lasguns.

The only new weapon they introduced is the 'vengeance launcher', which I didn't like at all. Basically, it just fires up to five mines onto the ground, to which you can remotely detonate with each tap of a button, in reverse order from when they were laid out. To be effective, enemies must be charging at you. Using it for shoot outs is useless. Who knows, it could be a really helpful weapon, but I went through the entire campaign on hard mode and never needed it once.

The plasma weaponry was also implemented poorly. They overheat quickly, which is appropriate, but their damage output is pathetic. It often takes four to six shots at an Ork Boy to kill him, and by that point your plasma pistol will have reached 50% of its heatsink cap. I personally preferred using bolt weapons over any plasma technology because of this.

The pros:
-Fantastic, 40K-worthy story.
-Amazing graphics.
-Badass execution kills.
-Massive customization in multiplayer.
-Many Imperial weapon options.

The cons:
-Somewhat clunky controls in multiplayer.
-Friendly AI rarely attacks (ranged or melee).
-Allies aren't targeted by enemy turrets.
-Very linear campaign (no exploration).
-Disappointing plasma weaponry, and the vengeance launcher.

Score: 4/5

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