reviews\ Aug 4, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team Review


It’s nice to see THQ try and provide a pair of Warhammer products that appeal outside of the hardcore tabletop playing crowd. Next month, we’ll get a major dose of action from Warhammer: Space Marine, a game that looks promising on both the single player and multiplayer fronts. For now, we have Kill Team, an arcade-style shoot-em-up that’s available for download on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. What it lacks in deep strategic action, it more than makes up for in run-and-gun.

In Kill Team, there’s really not much story to be told here. An armada of Orks are creating havoc in their Kroozer (they can’t spell), ready to invade a Forge World. As the justice-serving Space Marines, it’s up to you to wipe them out and make things right again. It's as simple as that. The game has you choose from one of six Space Marine groups, then lets you pick your soldier of choice. Even though you have to unlock him (it takes about an hour), our money is clearly on the Librarian. He doesn’t sound so tough (“I’m going to kill you! With a librarian!”), the fact is he’s the most balanced of the bunch, between ranged shots and up-close melee attacks.

Each Marine is well-equipped in battle, between heavy firepower, melee moves, and optional power-ups scattered throughout each level. These include Righteous Fury (which bumps up your melee power significantly), Double Shot, Rapid Fire, Health Restore (you’re going to need this one, especially on higher difficulty), among others. In addition, several Aquila emblems are scattered throughout each stage. The more you collect, the more goodies you unlock for both Kill Team and the upcoming Space Marine.

As we stated before, the gameplay isn’t complicated. The left stick controls your character’s movement, while the right handles their direction of fire. It’s a Smash TV style, and it works reasonably well, even when waves of small Ork warriors and larger, heavily armed soldiers come charging at you. You can dash with the left trigger, though it’s somewhat limited since you’re in a hefty suit of armor. Activating a “super move” is as simple as hitting the left bumper button, and if they’re in stock, you can lob a few Ork-killing grenades with the right bumper button.

Over the course of your Kill Team session, you can also unlock multiple perks, such as health power-ups, increased firepower, and cool melee weapons (gotta love the axe). Some of the weapons included later in the game are remarkable, namely the missile launcher. Talk about doing massive Ork damage in clusters. There are no complaints when it comes to firepower, folks.

Where we will complain, however, is with the game’s camera. There are times where it manages to keep up with the action, but during a couple of occasions, we ended up getting stuck on some object, leaving the camera stationary while we charged on through the level. If it wasn’t for the helpful HUD in the bottom corner of the screen, we’d have no idea that we were being attacked. It does reset once we reach the next area, but it’s slightly annoying. A camera shouldn’t be your enemy.

Aside from that, the graphics are fairly well done. While the level design is somewhat dry, the ambiance matches the Warhammer style, complete with crappy Ork technology, exploding objects, and plenty of carnage. The warriors look pretty cool, though there are times they come across as second-hand Darth Vader wannabes, depending on the armor.

As for the audio, it’s a mixed bag. The in-game music isn’t bad, and hearing a bunch of Ork screams can be quite satisfying to Warhammer veterans. However, the narrator sounds out of place. We know he’s trying to motivate the soldiers, but his tone is so dry and unemotional that it’s really hard to have him around as a guide. Plus, he explains everything, as if we can’t figure it out for ourselves. “Activate these four switches and shut down the machinery.” Yeah, we can’t figure out an off-switch. Thanks, guy.

Along with the story mode (which lasts a few hours with all the characters), Kill Team also includes a fun Survival Mode, where you take on as many Orks as possible without dying. It’s basic, yet enjoyable, and gives you plenty of stress-burning opportunities. Aside from that, the only other thing to do with this game is team with a friend in co-op. It’s a blast wiping out Ork hordes with a buddy, but, sadly, it’s local only. We can’t figure out why THQ opted to skip the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live support on this one. It’s a poor decision.

Even with its lack of online play, its broken camera issues, and the sleep-inducing narrator, Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team is an enjoyable arcade romp, one both shooter fans and long-time Warhammer followers should check out. While it may not be the definitive precursor to the upcoming Space Marine, it’s still an above-average warm-up.

[Reviewed on PlayStation 3]


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