Space Marine (which I reviewed yesterday) left a fairly profound effect on me.
Space Marine is by no means a game changing…game…but the attention to detail is good and I’m looking forward to seeing more in this series and even find myself hoping for downloadable content, which is a first. I really feel the game should be recognised for the work that has gone into it and the careful way in which they have dealt with the source material.
Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine is a third person action shooter / brawler which does exactly what you would expect in that you play a Space Marine in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. This is a very simple premise the bellies a much more complicated background.
You take control of Captain Titus of the Ultramarines as you attempt to liberate a forge world from an Ork invasion with the help of two of your battle-brothers by murdering as many invading aliens as possible. The plot then opens up into the investigation of a doomsday-like device that the Inquisition have been working on in secret that harbours powers of the warp.
There will be parts of that last paragraph that you will not understand unless you are familiar with the Warhammer 40,000 setting, something that I think THQ are going to have a hard time with because there’s a problem here. The Warhammer 40,000 setting is weird. Brilliantly weird, but still weird none the less. There will also be more than one person giggling that the big blue space marines are called Ultramarines.
I have a problem whenever I review things. There is an inner monologue that I seem to maintain that repeats the phrase “Who am I to say this?” over and over again driving me into a guilt spiral if I’ve been asked to review something that I deem to be not-very-good.
As far as I am concerned, the best critics have a deeper understanding of whatever it is they are critiquing. As my field at the moment is predominantly games, I have a wide range of peers to look to for inspiration or despair. As an example of a good critic, Yahtzee from Zero Punctuation is someone I appreciate not because of his oft hilarious turn of phrase but because I always feel he has a grounding of knowing what he’s talking about. He can be pedantically critical, but that’s the best way to help a medium improve and it is always very clear just how much he loves the games he reviews. Most importantly for me, his understanding has come from his contribution to the Indie games field and he has self published several titles and following his blog will reveal that he often works on several more that never see the light of day due to a mix of inertia, lack of time, or a realisation that the idea was better on paper.
Other reviewers also tend to read better in my opinion when they have game design experience. The Rock Paper Shotgun reviews are always solid because they are also written by people who not only have a passion for games, but also have some experience with designing games or mods. Likewise the Bit-Tech reviews (and yes I am a little biased here) are generally good because the guys that write them have dabbled in game design as well. In this day and age, if you are interested enough in games to write about them, it would be crazy if you hadn’t dabbled in a little hobby-coding at some point, even if it’s playing around with a level editor or something.