“Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine” is a fast-paced and bloody third person shooter from THQ and Relic Entertainment. In “Space Marine” the player controls Captain Titus, a member of the Ultramarines, in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Though the singleplayer is short at around 5-6 hours the fun and frantic multiplayer helps to add some longevity to the space marine experience. However the lack of unique multiplayer modes is disappointing. Overall “Space Marine” does a worthy, if short, job of bringing Warhammer’s fiercest and bloodiest warriors to life.

As a space marine the player is tasked with stopping an Ork invasion of a Forge World (a planet that is focused on industry and production). The story is standard fair with a simple and noticeable plot twist about ¾ of the way through the game. Thankfully shooting and chopping through hordes of Orks is fun if not very original. The game follows a basic pattern of moving from checkpoint to checkpoint and destroying everything that is between the two checkpoints. There are a few on-rails levels but most of the game is spent marching through huge environments and killing thousands of Orks. The enemy variety helps to keep the gameplay interesting but ultimately there is little new or refreshing in “Space Marine.” At least the developers of “Space Marine” knew exactly what they were working with and have given fans of Warhammer 40,000 an intense shooter that displays the power of the space marines in gory detail.

Stomping Through A Forge World
“Space Marine” is a good looking game with a nice attention to detail that helps to immerse the player in the Warhammer universe. However the game’s colour palette borrows from the same shades of greys and browns of most modern “gritty” shooters. The most colourful objects in the world are the space marines themselves in their bright blue armour, which is usually covered in large amounts of red Ork blood. The scale of the world is well established with huge hallways, massive cathedral like structures, and huge momuments. The sounds of a space marine are also a joy to listen to and experience. Every step Captain Titus takes is a deep bass note and the guns are satisfyingly loud. The voice acting is also well done adding a sense of believability and purpose to the mission of the space marines.

The Life of a Space Marine
“Space Marine” offers little in the way of new gameplay or unique controls for a third person shooter. However what “Space Marine” offers in terms of gameplay is fun, precise, smooth, and rewarding. Playing as a space marine the player has the option of firing large and loud guns from a distance and/or to charge into combat wielding a number of different melee weapons. The guns in “Space Marine” range from bolt pistols, to large assault rifles called Bolters, to sniper rifles like the devastating Lascanon, and to heavy weapons like the Heavy Bolter. Melee weapons include the Chainsword, Power Axe and the Thunder Hammer; each having their own unique feel, sound, and set of animations. The game seamlessly and effortlessly combines ranged combat with melee combat to create some surprisingly fun and addictive gameplay. However, one should note that playing the game completely with ranged weapons is impossible as large hordes of enemies will charge the player at any given time requiring the need for melee combat. As well, in order to regain health one must use a special melee attack combo.

Ranged combat offers little in the way of variety, basically one just points and shoots. The melee combat offers a simple combo system that can result in several special attacks such as an attack that deals massive damage to multiple opponents, an attack that stuns multiple opponents, or an attack that gives the player some much needed health. Regaining health is perhaps the most unique aspect of the combat in “Space Marine.” If the player is low on health than he/she must stun an enemy and then press the corresponding button that hovers over the stunned enemies head (on the Xbox 360 the button is always “B”). The special stun attack combo results in an insta-kill move/animation that gives the player some health back. Furthermore the player has a fury meter that once full can unleash a damage bonus to attacks, which is highly useful against larger and tougher foes, and also gives the player health back. There are no health packs and health does not recharge over time so knowing the best times to do a special stun attack or when to use fury is a key part of the strategy in “Space Marine.” For a game that is based around the simple notion of kill everything in sight the need to manage ammo, grenades, health, and melee combos results in a surprisingly engaging gameplay experience.

There are also certain levels where the player will receive a jump pack. A jump pack is basically a jet pack that can launch a space marine into the air or dash them from side to side to avoid in-coming attacks. When the player jumps high into the air a reticule appears on the ground and if the player presses the melee attack button Captain Titus will launch toward the reticule on the ground and do a special ground pound attack that devastates multiple enemies. The jump pack levels really show off the power of a space marine and offer some much needed variety to the gameplay.


Battle Brothers
Captain Titus is the leader of a team of three space marines (himself included). At times the space marines are joined by other NPCs but throughout most of the game the player is surrounded by his/her battle brothers. The AI of the other space marines can range from somewhat helpful to completely useless, such as getting stuck on objects in the environment. Thankfully the enemy AI is not much better than the AI of the space marines. However gauging the intelligence of the enemies is not really the point of the game as it is the large numbers of enemies, and not the intelligence of any single enemy, that the player needs to overcome.

Orks and Chaos Gods
What helps keep “Space Marine” from becoming overly repetitive are the enemy types one will encounter throughout the game. Orks range in size from small easy to kill Gretchins, to larger armoured ‘Ard Boys, and to huge hulking Nobs. The agents of Chaos also offer unique enemies such as Chaos Space Marines, Chaos Psykers, and Bloodletter Daemons, which are particularly fierce the first time one encounters them. Each enemy behaves a certain way requiring shifting tactics, which results in often frantic and fast-paced battles. Unfortunately there are really only two major boss fights in the game but each one is memorable and each one is very different from the other.


Collecting Skulls
Throughout each level in “Space Marine” there are servo-skulls the player can collect to discover a bit more about the events of the game (a servo-skull is basically a small floating mechanical skull that is used to scan environments and offer communications). Each servo-skull has an audio file the player can listen to in order to get some background details on certain in-game events. If one wants to get the whole story then he/she should seek out these servo-skulls to get an inside look at the lives of certain characters before and during the Ork attack.

8 Battle Brothers Versus 8 Agents of Chaos
The online in “Space Marine” is fun but disappointingly lacking in game modes. There are only two types of 8 versus 8 online modes. Seize Ground is an objective based game mode that has two teams fighting to control four waypoints. Controlling and taking over of waypoints gives points and the first team to 1000 points wins the match. Annihilation is basically a team deathmatch game mode that pits two teams of 8 against each other and the first team to 41 kills wins the match. Thankfully there is more to do online than simply fight.

As the player kills and wins matches he/she gains experience points that level up his/her online character. With level ups come new unlocks, like new weapons and new perks. Perks work the same as in any other modern shooter with the player being able to equip up to two perks to add bonuses to his/her character such as added defense or damage. The one issue with the level up system is that the first 10 levels or so can be grueling to get through since one plays against a lot of high-level players with much more powerful weapons and perks. In other words it seems the matchmaking could use some work, especially for players just starting out. In general though playing online is fun with well thought out level design and simple but addictive gameplay. There is some co-op gameplay coming as DLC in October but as it is not present at launch it comes off as just another game mode missing from the overall package.


Design a Killing Machine
A nice touch to the online is the Customizer, which allows a player to customize the look and loadout of his/her space marine. There are 3 basic templates for one’s character: Tactical Marine (balanced between ranged and melee combat), Assault Marine (focused on close combat with a jump pack), and a Devastator (focused on heavy weapons). The customizer is unlocked at level 4 and has a huge set of options for tweaking the appearance and colour of one’s space marine. As the player levels up his/her character they will unlock new armour types to allow for even more customization. The player can tweak each of the 3 space marine templates as he/she unlocks new perks, weapons, and armour sets. It is unfortunate that the large selection of customization options is not matched by a large selection of online game modes but what is offered is fun to play.

Fans of Warhammer 40,000 will get more out of “Space Marine” than gamers who have little knowledge of the Warhammer universe. Still, the solid gameplay, immersive gameworld, and fun multiplayer will keep any gamer happy for a few hours. The short campaign and lack of multiplayer modes is a disappointment. However if the campaign were any longer the gameplay would probably get repetitive. If you are a fan of Warhammer I would suggest picking up “Space Marine” for the joy of playing and creating a hulking mass of destruction. For players who are not familiar with Warhammer 40,000 then there is little to keep one interested beyond the thrill of killing hordes of enemies for a few hours.

  • Simple but fun gameplay
  • High level of customization with online characters
  • Fulfills the task of bringing space marines to Life
  • Huge and immersive environments
  • Not much gameplay variety
  • Too few online game modes
  • Little originality
  • Too short
Quote: "If you are a fan of Warhammer I would suggest picking up “Space Marine” for the joy of playing and creating a hulking mass of destruction."
Reviewed by James Farrington | 09.15.11

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Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine




US Release
September 2011


PS3, X360

Players 1
Online MP 2-16
HD 720-1080p
5.1 surround
D/L Content