Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine Review

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Hammer time


For most hardcore gamers, hack’n’slash button-mashers are one of the worst atrocities ever inflicted on mankind, and a window back to the dark days of videogaming when audiences were easy to please, and awful adventures could be hidden behind glossy graphics. But even though Space Marine is the sort of game Empire would normally take great pleasure in kicking into submission, this geeky sci-fi brawler inspired by the Warhammer 40,000 tabletop games is tremendous fun, hugely rewarding, and almost impossible to put down.

And the difference between Space Marine and other mindless brawlers? A delicious sense of empowerment.

Within moments of firing up the game you’ll be whisked from your mundane reality to a world where you feel nine-feet tall and able to punch holes in solid concrete; partly because the outrageous melee weapons you wield include such delights as the 'Thunder Hammer' and 'Chainsword', but mostly because you can shoulder-charge your way into a group of enemies, crushing hordes of hapless aliens in your wake while you struggle to stifle delirious laughter. Best of all, with sharp graphics and bombastic sound effects that effortlessly convey the power and punch of every strike, using the devastating jump-pack move is one of the most satisfying moments in videogaming this year. It makes you feel like an indestructible super-soldier as you boost high into the air, surveying the battlefield below before crashing back to earth, squashing any aliens not quick enough to scamper out of the way.

Hilarious fatality moves – where you stamp on an enemy’s head until it bursts, or ram a chainsaw down their throat – also make Space Marine sublime to play. But while the action is let down by some minor issues – particularly its repetitive combat, and fact the whole adventure is over much too quickly – the game is still a guilty pleasure for anyone searching for thrills without needing to engage their brain, and one of the most effective ways to feel like a pumped-up futuristic soldier this side of Halo: Reach.