Xbox Live Arcade Title.
Co-op: Local Only.
(Title provided by the publishers free of charge for review)
With a name like “Kill Team” this game could only ever be a bloodbath, and with the Warhammer license in there as well it could only ever be a bloodbath involving Space Marines. Thank god, then, that it’s called Warhammer 40, 000: Kill Team, because this is a bloodbath and that’s why it’s just so much fun.
So, what we have is a twin-stick/hack ‘n’ slash adventure game that follows the exploits of a bunch of bloodthirsty Space Marines as they board and attempt to stop an Ork ship. That’s right, Orks exist in the future and not just in olden times when everyone used bows, swords and said “thusly” a lot. It’s light on the storyline, but that’s really to be expected as the entire game really does boil down to killing everything that moves and blowing up the stuff that doesn’t. The games intro tells more of the story than any other moment in the game, and is a superbly animated scene showing a Space Marine ship dodging its way through a hail of fire. After that the story takes a backseat to the action as the entire goal of the game is to simply destroy enough of the ship to ensure it never makes it to the Forge World. Still, if you’re planning on purchasing Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine then it’s worth noting that Kill Team takes place right before the events of Space Marine, so if you’re a die-hard fan of the upcoming game then you may want to purchase Kill Team for the simple sake of being a fan. Oh, and you’ll unlock a shiny extra weapon for when Space Marine comes out. Sweetness.
But for what it lacks in-depth or story, Kill Team more than makes up for in its gameplay. It bears the most resemblance to a top-down shooter, but the camera never seems content to stay there and you’ll have plenty of moments where you’re using a camera angle that’s almost over-the-shoulder, but for the sake of simplicity I’m going to say top-down. At the start of each level you get to pick from one of four different badass Space Marines, each with their own strengths, weaknesses and special abilities. You’ve got your usual melee and ranged specialists, and then you’ve got the two characters who sit a little more in the middle. During your game time you’ll unlock extra perks and weapons for these bad-boys, and while it’s not a deep system with plenty of options it does give the whole thing a sense of progression.
Get into the Ork slaying and things do become pretty standard stuff, but it’s done so well that you really won’t care. The right stick controls your ranged weapon of choice: simply twist the stick in the direction of the enemy and watch the blood fly. The ranged weapons look, feel and sound nice and chunky, delivering plenty of oomph and damage, especially if you happen to be playing as the Sternguard Veteran. Damn, that guy can gun shit down! But get in close and its time to go all Space Marine on their ass as the “A” button unleashes the fury of your melee attacks. Gunning Orks down may be fun, but there’s something incredibly satisfying about wading in with your Chainsword and cutting through legions of enemies.
Speaking of which, you’re definitely going to be killing a lot of enemies in this game. After just two levels your kill count (thank you in-game stats) will be in the thousands. Luckily there are several varieties of Orks to slay from simply cannon fodder up to bad-ass dudes with rocket launchers. And as soon as you begin to tire of those green Orks the game throws Tyranids at you to keep things fresh. Still, the constant barrage of enemies in the game is arguably its biggest flaws. You’ll hardly ever go a few feet without being confronted by another horde of angry Orks hell-bent on your destruction. Thankfully these moments are made more interesting by some genuinely cool moments like running across exploding bridges and running away from giant Tyranids. Still, the constant enemy killing does begin to grow tiresome by time you hit the five-hour mark, but then the game ends! Now, in most games a fairly short playtime is class as a flaw, but for Kill Team it’s actually a good thing as it ends just as the gameplay is starting to feel a little old, without ever letting you actually get bored with it.
Replaying the levels is definitely encouraged, though. At the bottom of the level select screen is portraits of each character along with the your score for each of them, demanding that you return and try to better yourself and your life by killing more stuff. Detailed leaderboards also help to make sure that you feel utterly inadequate when a friends destroys your score, the bastard.
Co-op is also thrown into the mix and works extremely well. You and another of your friends can get together for a bit of Ork slaying, friendly banter and a healthy desire for blood and guts. Getting a mate around definitely makes the manic action even more fun, but it’s also a massively missed opportunity as that mate of yours is going to have to be sitting on the couch next to you. That’s right, co-op is local only. It’s baffling. Online co-op would have been an absolutely stellar addition to this title, yet they’ve missed out on that.
It’s also a visually brilliant game. The opening cutscene is a beautiful barrage of hell as the Space Marine ship weaves its way through to deliver you unto your blood filled mission. Sadly, the rest of the games cutscenes actually use the in-game engine, and despite it being very good for an Arcade title, it’s not up to delivering good cutscenes. And they’re unskippable. But, as said, for an Arcade game this is a looker. Character models are detailed and look good while environments are rendered fantastically. The biggest flaw is the setting: the Ork ship is a drab place to be. It’s all dark, grey and metal with each place looking pretty much like the last one. Ah, the problems with being stuck on an Ork ship.
Kill Team’s biggest problem is simply that we’ve seen this before. The shooting is satisfying and fun, but nothing utterly mind-blowing and the entire five hours will be spent shooting seven kinds of snot out of things.
Kill Team is a game that is simply about killing lots of things with guns and swords. Maybe it’s the gameplay that makes it so good. Maybe it’s the Warhammer license which makes killing things so much more bad-ass when you’re doing it as a Space Marine. But, either way, this is definitely worth your money, especially if you just can’t wait for Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine.
+ Killing orks.
+ Killing Tyranids.
+ Killing Orks and Tyranids with a friend.
– Not killing Orks and Tyranids with a friend on Live.
– It’s pretty easy.
– I want Space Marine 🙁
Technically speaking the graphics are superb, but the environments are repetitive.
The music is great, and the voice acting (of which there is little) is solid. Weapons sound nice and chunky.
There’s an Ork ship over there. Go blow that thing up.
It’s nothing you haven’t already seen, but there’s something hugely satisfying about it.
The singleplayer will last you around five hours, but it is fairly replayable and Survival mode will thrown in some extra playtime.
Summary: Kill Team is just short of being a truly great game, instead it’s a damn fun game that will satisfy your blood-lust until its bigger brother arrives on the scene and kicks your ass all over the shop, because that’s just how Space Marines roll.