I will put this bluntly: I did not enjoy Space Marine. As I stated in the first impressions piece, I was worried this was going to be a generic action title and it was. There are clearly moments when this should have shined but it never came to be. You still have to endure a very formulaic plot, running through corridors where absolutely nothing occurs and then face off against waves upon enemies that will throw absolutely everything your way.
The biggest problem with Space Marine is the lack of variety. For the rest of the game, there is only one scenario where you are not on the ground fighting and that one section is so brief that you can be forgiven for forgetting that sequence even took place. The game’s plot twist -which you see coming a mile away- introduced the infamous Chaos Marines into the story and while it opens up the variety in terms of new enemies at your disposal, the way in which the Orks from the first part of the game are ultimately taken out of the story is poorly implemented.
Then there are sections of the game where Orks and Chaos Marine forces are fighting against each other, but you still need to dispose of both sides for you to progress. It makes no sense since you have no vested interest in their battles. Let them take each other out so you can get by quicker. But alas, you have to do the brunt of the work.
Which brings up another problem, your AI partners are absolutely stupid. There will be times when Captain Titus is fighting alongside either his Ultramarine partners, Space Marines or generic soldiers. In every situation where this occurred, they barely made much of a difference in the fight. One area, where the Ultramarines and another character are going through a research facility that is armed with turrets, when one of the other characters was in position for the turret to target it, it wouldn’t fire. But when you were in its field of vision, it shot at you relentlessly. Additionally, even when your cohorts were aware of the existence of a turret, they would not attack it until you began firing.
But even with that faults of your teammates, it’s still the lack of variety in the combat that hurts the game. I was desperately hoping for the game to change it up and throw us something different. While there are those situations where you still have to fight off waves of enemies while something else is happening (such as waiting for an elevator to arrive), they happen so infrequently that you still can see ahead of time that these moments are about to occur.
There are also two “boss” battles in the game: one at the midway point of the game and the other at the end. The first battle, against an Ork is pretty interesting although still quite by-the-numbers (just fire at him until he dies) but it at least offered a brief moment of something that was different. But the game’s final boss-battle, which ends up being a pretty easy quick-time event, is incredibly disappointing. The lead-up to the final boss was actually more challenging than the fight it-self. It gives off the impression that the developers absolutely wanted to end the game on a quick-time event but were unsure how to lead you to that point. Sometimes quick time events can be really enjoyable, but to end the game in such a manner feels like a rushing to get the product out the door.
Among the other problems with the game, one actually is something that I originally enjoyed. I commented earlier about how creative the health recovery mechanic was (executing an enemy resulted in you regaining health) but as you progress through the game, it can be risky to perform. There will be times when enemies will swarm you and if you start to reach that critical point where you need to recover your health, it’s best to make sure you are selective with when you attempt to do it. You are still vulnerable to enemy attacks during the execution animations that you may very well die in the process. It is really frustrating when this happens since it can happen quite often. On top of that, when later enemies begin to throw grenades like rice, you could get killed from them during the same execution sequence.
The ending clearly leaves the door open for a sequel. There is no cliffhanger ending in the sense of not defeating the enemy forces, but the way they could take Captain Titus as a character for his next “adventure” is open. However, considering how poorly Space Marine did sales wise, it’s highly unlikely that will happen.
Additionally, this is probably a game that most action fans can skip and not feel like they missed something. There is nothing that helps this game to stand out on a single-player side of things. If you have no vested interested in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, then you won’t really care about the Orks, Chaos Marines and other factions that appear in the game. On the other hand, fans of the franchise might want to play the game for the story but even that isn’t exactly revolutionary or engaging.
Perhaps Blizzard had it right when they decided to not proceed with an action-game based on the StarCraft Universe. You rarely see a franchise jump genres and still having the same success. Even a massively popular franchise like Halo when it attempted to swim the waters of a different genre ended up having mixed opinions. Space Marine should have and could have been so much better than it actually was and if you see this game available for very little, you should still be cautious about your reasoning behind playing it.