SPACE MARINE - Multiplayer Preview Event|
Written by Charles Boucher
July 23, 2011
Space Marine's multiplayer might not revolutionize competitive gaming as we know it, but it's managed to capture the feeling of being a eight foot tall titan, clad in hundreds of pounds of armor and wielding weapons too large for humans to carry. Loyalist and Chaos Space Marines crash into each other, cracking and crumbling the ground around them, battle with chainsword and bolter, and bring jump packs and heavy weapons to bear.
With two modes and three classes to choose from, Space Marine's multiplayer might seem somewhat scant at first, but the game's maps and character customization manages to stretch the value quite a bit. The game's team deathmatch sets Space Marines against their Chaos counterparts, with the teams competing to be the first to reach 41 kills. Meanwhile, the game's point control mode tasks players with locking down strategic points on the map. It's nothing unique, but the game's three classes give players quite a few options.
With different perks and weapons to choose from, each of the classes manages to be fully distinct from one another. The tactical marine can bring the bolter for a quick, accurate basic weapon, a plasma rifle for alternating between powerful charged shots and quick blasts, a storm bolter to fire twice as fast, but without nearly as much control, or a scoped sniper-pattern bolter, which is great for sending a barrage of quick shots into an opponent's head. His non-weapon perks let him act as a spawn point for his team, see enemies' health and armor totals, and generally support his friends and make better decisions on the battlefield.
The assault marine boasts a jump pack, giving him dramatically superior maneuverability compared to other marines. Wielding a melee weapon in one hand and a pistol in the other, the assault marine is prepared for combat at any range, but prefers to bring death from above, jumping and then slamming into opponents before bringing their chainsword, axe or thunder hammer to bear. Their perks allow them to fly more often, kill enemies in a single strike, and otherwise specialize in being the quick melee monsters of the game.
Finally, Devastators get to use the game's heaviest weapons, ranging from the Vengeance launcher, which deploys remote mines which can be detonated at will, the heavy bolter, a deployable heavy machine gun equivalent, and the lascannon, which can kill in a single shot if aimed properly. Their perks allow them to excel in a defensive role, making them ideal for holding down the fort in point control.
Each weapon has a set of challenges to accomplish, which unlock perks and provide specific upgrades to its use. While you can only bring a few loadouts into any given match, if you get bored with your own weapons and perks, the game allows you to copy your killer's loadout upon death, provided you've unlocked the right gear to copy it. Completing challenges and doing well in matches will level you up, providing both new weapons and new types of armor to customize your marine.
Fans of the 40k universe are sure to love the customization. Numerous armor straight from the codex lists of power armor types can be given to your marine, ranging from artificer armor greaves to the beaky helmets of millennia past. Numerous paint jobs can be applied, copying either extant space marine chapters or traitor legions, or making your own. I spent a long time just playing with the customizer, and it's safe to say that any fan of 40k will find a lot to love when making their own marine. The only letdown was that the Thousand Sons weren't a playable legion, due to their iconic helmets being too tall for the level geometry.
Of course, Space Marine is a few months out from release, and it's still got a few rough spots. While the point control is well-balanced between tactical, assault and devastator marines, the deathmatch heavily favors assault. With no immediately clear places for a devastator to set up camp, and the assault marine's massive mobility benefit not constrained by needing to drive for control points, each of those classes suffers a major imbalance in a deathmatch. It wasn't uncommon for two thirds of each team to be assault marines after the first few minutes of one of those games. Additionally, while a lot of 40k's identity is in the game's sound, I was somewhat disappointed by the absolute silence of the characters in multiplayer. With Relic's previous sound work on Dawn of War being terrific, I was expecting something more vociferous.
Still, while the multiplayer isn't Space Marine's main draw, it is certainly entertaining. It won't replace Black Ops any time soon, but more chances to step into the enormous boots of one of the Emperor's chosen are always good.
Stay tuned for single-player campaign game coverage coming soon…