Saturday, 29 December 2012

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine: Game Design Review

Created by Relic that made the Dawn of War strategy games, Warhammer Space Marine is an action-shooter set in the Warhammer 40K universe where you play as Captain Titus of the Ultramarines. Here's my thoughts after playing it.

What I liked:
Set pieces and large battlefields- Some of the most fun moments in the game are when you fight alongside Imperial guard and fellow space marines some pretty cool looking set pieces and battlefields against hordes of Orks and Chaos space marine

Lots of shooting and strong action!- The action and shooting feels very solid and quite smooth. Especially when combined with the Xbox 360 controller where you can feel the vibrations.

What I didn't like:
Lots of empty corridors and walking around in large passages- Lots of games have quiet moments between action sequences to help break up the pace. It's good that Relic recognises the need for well timed breaks in-between large scale battles but the amount of walking around in sewers or passages is very noticeable particularly as Titus is deliberately slowed to a walk and the only thing you do in those scenes is listen to your marines and support characters talk.

What's even worse is that numerous checkpoints are placed before the dialogue meaning if you die you'll have to listen to them over and over again. It's just a waste of time unfortunately having to walk all the way back to the next combat area. It's twenty second of just walking around really.

Lack of health kits/stations- I appreciate the lack of regeneration but at the same time I do think that once a battle is over in an area you should be restored to full health or when you reach checkpoint. You are given full health when you die and respawn at a checkpoint so why not?

Enemy variation- Considering the large and varied lore, it's surprising that we only see Orks and later on Chaos space marines. There are about 7 or 8 kinds of units in total which is very disappointing.

Needs more jet pack action- The jetpack action sections were probably the best and reminded me strongly of Dark Void which I loved! In fact I'm convinced that if the entire game had been design around jetpack action as an assault marine it would be much more successful and exciting!

Lacks gameplay variety- There's a distinct lack of gameplay variety in the sense that it is a straight forward linear action shooter amidst static arenas. Melee is very simplistic compared to games like Devil May Cry and new elements such as new melee weapons, new enemies are introduced occasional game but somehow the repetitiveness just wears thin after a while. It feels like it needs to be more ambitious.

The best parts of the game as mentioned at the start is when you're fighting with the Imperial guard in large spaces with friendlies and enemies fighting. There should be more vast open spaces, more crazy fights and more races! Why aren't there large dreadnoughts and tanks fighting alongside you amidst scorching battlefields? Haven't we already seen enough of urban environments, sewers and underground factories in other games?

Squad AI- Throughout the game, you'll be accompanied by several squad members. Unfortunately, they are controlled by generic AI which you can't control. I thought it was a great shame that you can't give them weapons or issue them commands to help them cover you. A real missed opportunity here to introduce some interesting decisions.

As a whole I did enjoy quite a number of parts of Warhammer Space Marine. But the repetitiveness of enemies and gameplay soon drags everything down. Overall, it's a solid game that's worth a rental but not much else. It really doesn't take enough advantage of the source material to craft a unique experience and ends up feeling very generic.

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