Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine Review

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine Logo

A third-person shooter on PC is not exactly rare, but definitely no less exotic than a decent video game set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. For several years now, Relic Entertainment, a company that more or less reliably supplies products under the WH40k brand, has been working for fans of this deepest universe. This time, the game developers decided to tell the world the story of one of the commanders of the Ultramarines order and, at the same time, please fans of dynamic action games.

Three fierce warriors in the grim darkness of the 41st millennium

Here we are.

Chain bolters and power saws

So, dear friends, confess, who among you has already taken the liberty of renaming the new game set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe to Gears of War: Space Marine? Of course, there were grounds to suspect Relic of copying a well-known formula. One look at the screenshots, and it seems clear: where the game comes from, where the hands reach, and in what ways the local space marines will have to destroy the plant-like orcs.

In reality, however, things are mostly not like that. Yes, we view the world from the protagonist’s perspective, run, shoot, roll, try not to get hit, and we will be doing this throughout the game, but: unlike the Locusts and company shooting at each other from cover, to succeed in the extermination of the greenskins, our brave space marine is best placed right in the thick of the action. Skillfully shooting from a bolter is only half, if not a third, of the matter. Often, breaking through enemy hordes will require the use of a reliable chainsword, and in those moments, instead of the popular Xbox 360 shooter Space Marine becomes closer to… Painkiller. Remember how in it you had to dive into the meat to restore your own health? In our shooter-slasher, something similar happens: the righteous space marine can regenerate his health by activating a rage mode. This rage accumulates – correctly – through killing enemies. The faster another batch of orcs falls, the more chances the player has to survive the battle, and the fastest way to get rid of armed spore carriers is to charge into the crowd of greenskins with a power axe.

Valiant space marines standing strong

Three Space Marines and D'Artagnan search for the perfect strategy against the Horde.

Almost the entire game, the space marine will have to do more or less the same thing in more or less the same settings (the lighting changes, starting with everything being dusty brown, then purple, then red; the graphics are generally good, but, let’s say, a bit boring), and the different types of weapons (including stationary ones) don’t save the situation. What really diversifies the gaming experience are the episodes with the jetpack. Occasionally, our brave soldier finds this very jetpack along the way, immediately equips it, and as a result, dramatically changes his fighting style. The faithful bolter and chainsaw remain with the soldier, but who needs them when you can first soar high into the sky and then crash down on the enemy with the full weight of your armor?

But there are very few moments with fun hopscotch (if I’m not mistaken, only three throughout the campaign), and all the boss battles were crammed into the very end of the game, so I wouldn’t recommend playing Space Marine in one go, as with this approach, the game will seem too monotonous. In order not to be disappointed in shooting orcs and other demons, it is advisable to break your acquaintance with the Ultramarines at least into three episodes. Then you will be able to enjoy it and not regret the money spent.

Ruthless space marine amidst chaos

Distant, dark galaxies

The setting of Warhammer 40,000, fortunately, does not lend itself to stories where a lone hero saves everyone. The developers wisely did not go against the canon and did not send an Ultramarine to save the Emperor from the clutches of some particularly evil Chaos creature. The plot of Space Marine is like the plot of a typical WH40k book. We have a specific order that has embarked on a mission in one of the systems. Yes, a planet-factory and its valuable weapons were under threat, but this is just one of the countless episodes of the endless war of all against all. Finally, you can take a break from saving all of humanity, the universe, and anything else that doesn’t want to succumb to chaos, and just enjoy some good old-fashioned fighting.

However, there is still tension in the story of Commander Titus, and gamers who initially wanted to see another military drama from the dark world of the future “according to Warhammer” will not be disappointed.

Just like individual books set in the dark science fiction universe, Relic’s latest project cannot tell much about its world on its own. Therefore, many moments in the game may be unclear to someone unfamiliar with WH40k, but this was expected, and one should take it calmly. If you are interested in what the Space Marines are up to for the Emperor and the Inquisition, what business the forces of chaos have (did you really expect the matter to end with just some orcs from open space?), the scientific research of the Empire, and what happened in the end of the game, then welcome to the world of Warhammer 40,000 books and various games. If not, then there is no point in delving into this whole mess.

Mighty space marine squad ready for battle

Milena has already escaped.

Online chaos

The multiplayer unexpectedly turned out to be quite good. First of all, the well-designed maps for online play and the simple, understandable, and smoothly functioning class system are impressive (good news: one of the specializations allows for constant jetpack jumps, whee!). There are only two game modes in multiplayer: classic deathmatch and capture the control points. However, the maps for the second type are constructed according to two different principles, so teams will face different tasks on different arenas: somewhere it will be necessary to hold scattered objects on the map, and somewhere it will be enough to fortify one critical point.

The only problem with multiplayer is the double-edged sword of character progression. While in the single-player campaign, cool guns and hammers become available as you progress, in online play, you first need to earn experience points to get something deadly. Not that it’s impossible to kill anyone with the initial set of weapons and special abilities, but the maneuvering space for a gamer who has just started online battles will be completely different from that of someone who has been playing Space Marine for more than just a few days.

A lyrical digression: I look at Space Marine and can’t help but think that a great online game like DotA or, even better, Team Fortress 2 could have been released based on the WH40k setting. But instead of two factions with an identical set of classes, there could be, let’s say, four (like the Space Marines, Chaos, Orks, and Tau), each with their unique guns and skills. And it would be possible to have a straight-up free-for-all with four sides. Now that would be something!

Relic stumbled with the cooperative mode. Out of the box, the game does not offer cooperative play, but an update is promised in October that will add cooperative mode.


Space Marine doesn’t offer anything revolutionary, but it remains an engaging action game. The absence of grand plans actually worked in favor of the project: without trying to encompass the vast WH40k universe and impress everyone with revolutionary gameplay, the developers simply delivered a worthy product that is definitely worth attention.

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine
PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Action, Multiplayer
Relic Entertainment
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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