The bottom line right from the start, Space Marine is a damn fine game. Both in single player and multiplayer, there, I've said it. Now you can skip to the score if you want.
You are cast in the role of one of the Emperor's finest, a Space Marine, Captain Titus...a man who interprets the Codex Astartes of the Space Marines a little loosely compared to many of his Battle Brothers. Titus and his Ultramarine brethren are called in to stop Orks from looting Titans, massive war machines that stand hundreds of feet tall. I won't say any more about the story, you have to play the game for yourselves and see the way it unfolds. It's told with some pretty well directed cut-scenes using the in-game graphics engine.
Space Marine is a third person action game, there's no cover mechanic and health doesn't regenerate unless you earn it by performing an execution move on a stunned enemy. The combat system is simple enough and there are combos to learn, only there's not a book full of them and it's pretty simple to pick up, tricky to master. There are several combos that leave your enemies stunned and even on the easy difficulty, one wrong move can spell disaster for you and your campaign. You're usually deployed with two other of your Battle Brothers but they don't get in the way and you're always doing the brunt of the work, which is to say, slaughtering the Enemies of Man in their hundreds.
There are different classes of Ork to deal with and some of them are tougher than others, fortunately as you progress through the story you unlock new Wargear and equipment that ranges from a Kraken pattern Bolter to the Iron Halo, a powerful upgrade to your normal energy shield. Space Marines are protected by these energy shields, which regenerate and absorb a lot of damage. However, once those are gone you will lose health.
Hit zero and it's over, back to a checkpoint (which can be pretty unforgiving at times).
Your arsenal is pretty solid with Bolters, chainswords, power axes, thunder hammers, melta guns and more unlocked as the game progresses. One button performs an attack, another a stun and a third allows for an execution upon a stunned enemy. Whilst the A button causes you to roll out of harm's way.
Then later on you'll unlock a Jump Pack that lets you boost upwards, dropping down on your foes Death From Above style. It's a game changer and one that really shows the power of the Space Marines as the ground pound move can send a dozen or so Orks in close proximity flying all over the place.
Ranged combat is good, the guns are well designed and they have the right 40K feel to them. You can also earn Fury and go into a berserk like state allowing you to regenerate health and cause massive damage to your enemies. In ranged combat you can slow down time and place effective headshots.
That's pretty much it for the combat system, there's a quick time button press with some of the bigger enemies and that's basically the B button as you struggle with them for a few short seconds before you end their miserable existence in a brutal and messy way. There are also emplaced weapons which can be removed and due to the power of the Space Marine, wielded outside of their tripods. There are also ample places to restock ammo, swap out weapons and keep your arsenal stocked.
Combat is fast, brutal, furious and fun with a nice visceral edge. It proves that Relic can step outside of their RTS space and enter the third person action genre with both Bolter and chainsword humming.
There are three difficulty settings, Easy, Normal and Hard. On normal and hard, the game really punishes you, on easy, you'll get away with things lightly for the most...but even then, a wrong move will cause you a lot of pain.
Relic has really nailed the look and feel of the 40K Universe in this game, they've been getting better and better as each new 40K game rolls out and Space Marine, is the best looking 40K game to date. The graphics are bold, bright and colourful in terms of Titus and his enemies, the Orks - they are also highly detailed and have a great feel to them. They echo the gothic-space design of 40K perfectly in the architecture and it's great to see the 40K Universe brought to life like this. They remain rock solid in terms of framerate even when all hell breaks loose on the screen and the special effects are fantastic.
They got the Imperial Guard lasguns beautifully done, as well as the Bolters which basically explode an explosive round into the enemy and then detonate it a few short moments after.
The animated menu screen is also a great touch.
There are a few issues with the game camera from time to time, but for the most part it doesn't swing blindly into the abyss.
These are some of the best animations from Relic to date; the combat is satisfying and the executions never get old (the chainsword especially). The lip synch and character to Captain Titus and his men are well done and there is a real personality to the Orks themselves, especially their Warboss. The animation also feels weighty, you don't feel like you're controlling a stick figure, you feel like you're in command of a nine foot tall genetically engineered power-armoured badass.
Explosions cause major Orky ragdoll, they have a nice feel to them and of course the various heavy hitting weapons like the thunder hammer send Orks flying all over the place, if they're not dismembered or battered into bits with a single blow. The same is said for ranged combat with the heavier weapons actually having an impact beyond just shooting an Ork in the face, which of course earns you a headshot and a nice splat.
Ranged Orks are tricky buggers; they actually know the value of moving around and changing cover. They are also masters of sneak attacks and can soon rip down your shields and health. Then you have the melee based Orks which swarm you and never let up, the big Nob Orks are scary and have a massive WAAGH factor. They also know how to barge right in and don't care for tactics in that regard.
There are other enemies, but I'm not going to go into that. Their AI is pretty cool though and your buddy AI isn't bad either.
It's hard to imagine what the 40K Universe sounds like, or should sound like, but the sounds in the game, from the combat sounds, ambient sounds and just the whole rev of the chainsword are beautifully done and meaty. Just what you want when you have to stop a Warboss' WAGH with a sizzling power axe blow to the chest. The chunky thunk of a Bolter is fantastic and the little explosion at the end makes it even better.
A truly stirring score that evokes the dark gothic imperial nature of 40K perfectly! This is the best 40K soundtrack yet, full of character and theme and it really stirs the blood in combat. From the opening sequences harmonies and sweeping melodies to the softer tones for exploration and dialogue, it's all great stuff.
Captain Titus is the star of the show, ably acted by Mark Strong who is usually known for his portrayal of bad guys in various movies. Mark brings a heroic timbre to Titus and makes him one of the more likeable 40K characters yet. The rest of the cast do a great job with their roles and whilst the Orks aren't as good as the ones in DoW II...they are good enough.
Space Marine features some great writing and some quality dialogue; there are some superb moments of dry humour from Titus and his Battle Brothers as well as some interesting twists and turns that drive both the performances and story forwards.
With co-op announced as an online DLC addition, in the form of a Horde based Exterminatus mode, Space Marine's online component is a team based class based frenetic battle between Chaos Marines and Space Marines.
There is an online code to redeem to unlock the full multiplayer experience as is the norm these days.
The three classes are:
Tactical/Chaos Space Marine: These are the classic ranged/melee combatant class and can equip quite a wide range of perks and weapons.
Assault/Raptor: These are experts in close combat; their Jump Packs give them enhanced mobility and battlefield control.
Devastator/Havoc: With the most powerful weapons at their command, these are capable of using alternate fire on their heavy weapons and are masters of ranged combat.
My favourite class has to be the Assault class, due to the Jump Pack and the ability to get a great overview of the battle. As well as Death From Above!
1. Seize Ground: Both teams battle to control a series of objectives, each objective earns you points and the game ends once a team reaches the score limit.
2. Annihilation: This is a classic team deathmatch type and the team that kills the other more times once the timer hits zero, wins.
You can customise your chosen Space/Chaos Marine in terms of loadout and appearance, it's all pretty cool and the customizer allows for a wide array of variations and clans. It features chapters that you can get from preorder DLCs as well such as the Space Wolves. There are a lot of weapons in Space Marine multiplayer though you'll meet most of them in single player.
You can earn XP and level up in Space Marine multiplayer, unlocking various perks and so on as you level. There's also a bonus for you if you can hit 41st level in the game. There are numerous ways to earn XP and the game rewards team play far more than most other shooters/action games do.
With as solid level of customization, perk loadouts and weapon loadouts, packed together with a healthy dose of strategy, Space Marine multiplayer is an excellent addition to the game.
There was no lag and I had no trouble getting into numerous games.
If this is the future of Space Marine and action games from Relic in general, sign me up for more. This is a truly excellent game that has a high level of polish and a lot of replay value in terms of multiplayer and single player. It's got a solid story and a great set of actors that truly elevate the game into the ranks of: must have.