Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine is better than you remember

Warhammer 40K Space Marine Header

With Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine 2 expected to launch later this year, there’s been no better time to revisit the original. Much to our surprise, the game holds up surprisingly well – at least on PC – and still has a small yet active multiplayer community.

Developed by Relic Entertainment and published by the old THQ, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine is a 2011 third-person shooter, offering a gateway into Games Workshop’s grimdark universe. For the uninitiated, this dystopian science fiction setting sees humanity locked in a never-ending war against various alien races branded as Xenos and the malevolent supernatural forces of Chaos.

Players take on the role of Captain Titus, one of the many armour-clad Space Marines who serve as elite soldiers of the Imperium of Man. Voiced by British actor, Mark Strong (Kick-Ass, Kingsman, Cruella), he’s tasked with defending an Imperial Forge World from an Ork invasion. In an explosive prologue we see Titus blow up an Ork barge as he cleaves through a horde of the warmongering green-skinned aliens.

The gameplay in Space Marine is a mix of third-person shooter and melee combat, as you switch between ranged and close-quarters combat on the fly. Fitting with the theme of this grim future setting, and the ethos of the Space Marines to stride into the action and rely on their hefty suits of armour, there’s no cover system like a Gears of War or Uncharted game. Instead you’re forced to go on the offensive, stunning enemies and performing finishers to regain hit points and a green tide swarms around you.

Warhammer 40K Space Marine Combat

In true Warhammer 40K fashion you have an arsenal of futuristic wargear that ranges from boltguns and chainswords to the mighty Thunder Hammer with more weapons being available as you push through the campaign. You will also unlock special abilities such as a jump jet pack to traverse the battlefield and a melee execute attack and the aforementioned melee finishers.

Space Marine received a better treatment from critics than what you might remember. Praised for its gritty atmosphere and fast-paced action, it arrived in the midst of publisher THQ’s financial struggles – eventually the company would go bankrupt, its various studios and IP being snapped up by opportunistic rivals, many of them eventually finding their way to Saber’s parent company Embracer Group. Despite a somewhat short and repetitive campaign, and a muddy grey and brown colour palette that was so common on the PS3 and Xbox 360, it marked a rare foray into the world of Warhammer 40K that wasn’t strategy-based.

As we march through 2023 we’re looking forward to seeing more of its sequel, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine 2, which is being developed by Saber Interactive. Titus looks set to return, though he’ll be facing a new threat as he guns and cleaves through Tyranid hordes, which will provide a different challenge to the Orks, and should make good use of Saber’s expertise from World War Z. So far they’ve only revealed a single player campaign, but we’re hopeful that there might be an online horde-like survival mode.

Written by
Senior Editor bursting with lukewarm takes and useless gaming trivia. May as well surgically attach my DualSense at this point.