Gamers aren't, it must be said, about to run short on games about space marines. There's a world of difference, however, between space marines and Space Marines, arguably the original armoured warriors fighting out in the black of space. And, while Marcus Fenix et al might be pretty tough guys, the Space Marines from Games Workshop's insanely popular Warhammer 40K universe are nothing short of super-human. Genetically modified, put through psycho-chemical conditioning and dragged through years of rigorous training that would kill any of us mere mortals, these guys are hard of nails.
While we've seen them in plenty of strategy games, this is the first time gamers have been able to step directly into the boots of the Space Marines for action-based combat.
Set on an Imperial Forge World, these planets are covered with machinery whose sole purpose is to feed the war-machine of the Imperium forces. The world was guarded by the Imperial Guard who fell against a horde of Orks who are intent on capturing the planet for their own devices.
With the Imperial Fleet three days away, it falls on a nearby battalion of Ultra Marines to act as shock troops to prepare the way for the Imperial Fleet. The player takes on the role of Captain Titus who leads a squad of marines onto the planet in order to secure it.
The game controls in a way that reflects the offence based tactics used by the space marines found in the WH40K universe. Charging in head long is the order of the day with over the top melee and ranged weapons being the tools at the players disposal.
Combat is not complex, with the one button/sequence of blows mechanic being prevalent. There are times however that a brutal take down can be initiated, resulting in a very satisfying, if somewhat gory and grisly end to the player's foe.
So, never mind all those pretenders. It's time to take one of the original Space Marines out for a spin.
The campaign could have easily gotten repetitive, considering that your main staple weapons only gradually expand in variety, but intelligent level design consistently creates new puzzles for you to solve, by having you fight in a variety of terrain heights, against different mixes of ranged, close combat, and heavy hitting opponents. I found that on the "hard" difficulty setting, I literally needed to rely on every aspect of my arsenal to survive. That often meant anticipating a charging crowd with some well placed grenades to soften up the ranks, then using my range weapons to take down some high priority threats, and finally crashing into the wave of enemies to slash and dismember anyone who survived my opening salvos. I can't think of a more cinematic, and pulse racing game in recent memory. There are several set-pieces like action sequences out of the movies that just feel unbelievably epic, but I won't ruin them for you. All I'll say is that clearly this campaign was designed with a lot of careful planning and inspiration.
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