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Semper Fi In Space

‘Warhammer’ Has A War, A Hammer, And It’s Almost Really Good

October 3, 2011
By Doug Elfman (The Game Dork) , The Post-Journal

As a rule, shooter games don't tell you in advance how many villains you need to slay to reach the end. That would be intimidating and slightly disturbing: "Are you ready to extinguish 4,500 fake people?"

But an early narrative in "Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine" informs you there are "a million Orks" who want to murder you and your kind.

A million is a lot. Actually, you have to kill only several thousands of these ugly green guys in "Space Marine." Thank goodness for small favors.

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The plot is based on tabletop, fantasy games called "Warhammer." There's an Earth-like planet somewhere. It's full of Orks; they look like green Shrek ogres to me. They're murdering your soldier brethren brutally.

So you, a super fantastic space marine, get shipped to this planet to kill Orks with a vengeance.

Your epic name is Titus (conjuring the Roman Empire and Shakespeare naturally). You must eradicate nasty villain bosses, deal with a Judas of sorts, and engage in a few spectacular cinematic one-on-ones with nasty meanies.

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Here are the Top 10 best-selling video games at full retail price, according to Games are listed by title, company, gaming system, and rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Most games are priced $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3; $50 for Wii; $40 for PSP; $30 for DS and PS 2.

1. "Star Wars: The Old Republic Online Collector's Edition" (EA) pre-order for Dec. 20 release for PC; rating pending

2. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Hardened Edition" (Activision) pre-order for Nov. 8 release for Xbox 360; will also be available for PS 3 and PC; rating pending

3. "Battlefield 3: Limited Edition" (EA) pre-order for Oct. 25 release for Xbox 360; will also be available for PS 3, PC; rating pending

4. "FIFA Soccer 12" (EA) for Xbox 360; also available for PS 3, Wii, PS 2, PSP and 3DS; rated "E"

5. "Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3" regular edition pre-order for Nov. 8 release for Xbox 360

6. "Dark Souls Collector's Edition" (Namco Bandai) for PS 3; also available for Xbox 360; rated "M" (blood, gore, partial nudity, violence)

7. "FIFA Soccer 12" for PS 3

8. "Battlefield 3: Limited Edition" pre-order for Oct. 25 release for PS 3

9. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Hardened Edition" pre-order for Nov. 8 release for PS 3

10. "Gears of War 3 Ultimate Bundle" (Microsoft) for Xbox 360; rated "M" (blood, gore, intense violence, strong language)

(Ratings: "E" for "Everyone"; "T" for "Teen"; "M" for "Mature 17+")

Let's get down to brass tacks: This is two-and-one-half-star game, worth renting by serious gamers, maybe. It looks great, with a touch of "Lord of the Rings" and a smidgeon of "God of War."

Storylines are cool at times. The shooting is slightly subpar. But the hand-to-hand combat and melee fights are good and gruesome.

It's a third-person shooter. Camera angles follow you into battle, as hordes of armed Shreks, I mean Orks, sprint toward you to bash your head in, or to shoot you.

You kill them with below-average guns but also with some awesome melee weapons. There is, you know, a giant war hammer. I love the chainsword. It's a buzzing chainsaw, lengthy as a leg; and just one or two swings of it mows down handfuls of Orks at a time.

The most consistently poor thing about "Space Marine" is: Shoot-outs and melee fights seem fairly repetitive after a short amount of time.

But the worst thing about this bloody game is, if your health gets really low, you must stun an Ork, then execute him in a gnarly way, which magically restores your health.

Executing Orks take too much time, and it seems redundant after just one hour. Plus, while you're executing someone to revamp your health, other villains can simultaneously punch you and shoot you. So that's dumb.

As for the online multiplayer, it's not bad. The jetpack is rad! But there are too many spots on battlefields where other gamers can hide behind boxes and snipe at you, or kill you when you try to spawn onto a map. That's tiresome.

This really is a pretty game. The opening outer-space cinema sequence is one of the loveliest starts I've seen in a game in a long time.

And the voice acting comes in delicate shades of British accents, because nothing says "pip-pip, cheerio, you're dead" more properly than an English tongue.

("Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine" by THQ retails for $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3; $50 for PC - Plays decent, but slightly below-average. Looks great. Moderately challenging. Rated "T" for violence and blood. Two and one-half stars out of four.)

Doug Elfman is an award-winning entertainment columnist who lives in Las Vegas. He blogs at Twitter at VegasAnonymous.



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