Relic Entertainment’s upcoming third-person shooter, Warhammer 40000: Space Marine might still be a good one month away, but for the fans of the series with 800 MS Points to spare, THQ has something juicy to nibble upon while waiting for the main course – Warhammer 40000: Kill Team. Set as a prologue to Space Marine, Kill Team’s story tells the heroic tale of two space marines tasked with boarding and destroying an Ork Kroozer, which is leading an invasion on the Forge World. This gives THQ an excellent opportunity to jump start a story that will continue with the release of Space Marine, slaughtering a few thousand Orks along the way.
Kill Team is a twin-stick shooter; you move with the left stick while directing fire with the right and hacking at anyone who gets too close for comfort. How good you are in the shooting or the melee department is based upon which character you choose. Choosing a Librarian or a Vanguard Veteran would grant you strong melee and average-to-weak range. On the other hand, opting for Sternguard Veteran or Techmarine would limit your melee capabilities, while improving your range. To offset these limitations, each character comes with a special skill that can range from psychic powers to more mechanical stuff like turrets and jump packs. Throw in a couple of grenades, and you’re good to go for Ork hunting.
Alien Swarm fans will have no issues wrapping their heads around Kill Team’s controls. Sprinting, grenade lobbing, melee and special attacks are all mapped to different buttons so that you won’t get stampeded by a mob of Orks. A lot of weaving around the level and melee button-mashing is in order for the nature of the game is such that it will be swarming enemies at you every other minute. The environments can be used to your advantage, especially when you have a boat-load of heavy explosives littering the levels. A well placed shot can take out a horde of enemies in one go, racking up points, which will unlock perks and better weapons. And don’t forget the power-ups you get for blasting environmental objects. These power-ups grant you temporary powers like double-shot, more damage for melee, and power shields.
Graphically, the game just about delivers as an XBLA title. Your mileage may vary with the automatic camera though; the way it makes certain areas of a level inaccessible until you move around a bit may annoy people. Cutscenes are delivered using the game engine, and while I am not complaining about the lack of CGI cutscenes, I am certainly frustrated with the lack of a skip button, more so when they tend to drone on and are not that beautiful to look at either. With an enemy that depends upon overwhelming you with sheer numbers, path-finding becomes an issue. You can always trap them right next to a ramp and proceed to load them with lead at a leisurely pace.
Besides the campaign, you can play the survival mode, which lends to a more frantic pacing because of the number of enemies and the fact that you have just one life to spare. While the game supports two-player local co-op, it defies all logic by not having any online co-op component. I just can’t understand why the developers chose not to include online co-op in a game that is practically screaming for it. Xbox Live functionality is relegated to advancing on the leaderboard or gloating over your achievements, if you are into that kind of a thing. A codex in the main-menu serves as a trove of information about the characters for those new to the world of Warhammer 40000.
Would I recommend picking up Kill Team? Yes, for someone who is into twin-stick shooters with hordes of enemies converging on you. Yes, if you are a die-hard fan of the Warhammer 40000 series and cannot wait for Space Marine. Yes, if you have 800 MS Points to spare and have an afternoon or two to spare for some mindless shooting and slashing. If you aren’t one of these people, you will not be missing much if you skip it.