Thursday, 14 July 2011

Kill Team Review: Great Expectations




Ever had something start small and just escalate completely beyond your control? Something similar happened to me last night when I arrived home from work and decided to download the 'Kill Team' Arcade Game from Xbox Live.


'Kill Team' is  the prologue to THQ and Relic's upcoming AAA title 'Space Marine.' Weighing in at 800 MS points (about $10) the cost is about average for XBL arcade library but delivers above average bang-for-your-buck. You control a warrior of the Adeptus Astartes as he boards an Ork Kill Kruzer and attempts to disassemble it via the blood and guts of every man, woman and Ork on board. It's a grisly hack-and-slash affair whose simple gameplay is augmented beautifully by an expansive three-dimensional environment. A selection of classes (Librarian, Techmarine, Sternguard and Vanguard Veteran) offer variety as well replayability.


The narrative is a robust coagulation of mindless violence and Warhammer 40,000-style grimdark. Controls are minimalistic but rather than making the game stale the simplistic gameplay affords the campaign an easy flow and makes it approachable to anyone with two thumbs rather than just the gaming elite. Actions and obstacles are repetitive to a large degree but this is more due to the game's unapologetic love of brutality rather than a lack of alternative content.


There are issues with the title despite how unexpectedly fun it turned out to be. Some models had pathfinding issues that led them to wander in circles - particularly near cutscenes. And since we're on the subject this game has too many cutscenes in light of the steep difficulty spikes that players will face during certain missions meaning you'll have to watch those 5-10 seconds of animation over and over again. The class system fails (or succeeds depending on how you look at it) to give the player an all-around skill set so if you're a shooty marine on a melee mission... good luck. These problems made the game frustrating in the way that side scrolling action-shooters have always been frustrating. It's all part of that nostalgic charm I suppose but I could do with a more innovative way to extend a game's longevity.


One thing that surfaces again and again throughout the campaign is just how immersed  the design studio is in the 40k lore. The opening cinematic features a Caestus Assault Ram (from Forgeworld) and a BFG Kill Kruzer. There are constant nods and tips of the hat to the franchise's origins such as the in-game interchangeability of the Ork Burnaz and Lootaz (because they come from the same box, get it?).


This is what makes the wait for 'Space Marine' even more exciting. Knowing that the Relic team has mastered the 40k sub-culture in such a total way that even their innovations feel like they belonged there all along. This is a development studio that knows their fan-base and they're got in on display in every frame. They heard all the nerds wondering "can anyone get 40k right in a video game?" and they're answer is 'Kill Team.' If you're a fan of the 40k mythos this game was made for you.


-Atrotos

11 comments:

The Antipope said...

Good! I am getting my brother's Xbox today so I can play it!

Cerri Love said...

I think theres an alround class...Techmarine can shoot and Smash faces.

The Sterngaurd is kinda named wrong...he's more of a devastator than a Sternguard

Atrotos said...

Techmarine's low rate of fire and lower speed makes it difficult for him to chase down ranged troops I found - they whittle him down if your turret doesn't save you.

Sternguard is named that only because they were determined to only include "veterans"

sabreu said...

I hate my life for not owning an Xbox right now. Just sayin'

Master_Bryss said...

Hopefully they'll put it up on PSN as well so I can have a go...

The advantage here is that it's cheap enough to be worth a punt anyway and if Space Marine itself turns out to be good then we get a power sword out of it.

The Antipope said...

Okay, I finally got to play the game last night. It's pretty sweet however I had an issue with the shooting controls. Is it really hard to aim correctly or is it my general noobiness with these kind of games? Just saying...

Atrotos said...

The 'auto-aim' gets a little stupid at times.

Player: "I really need to kill that Ork!"
Game: "Naaaaw, you want to shoot this barrel..."
Player: "But the Ork!"
Game: "Nope. Barrel."

Atrotos said...

It's definitely worth the money. You'll get at least a few hours entertainment out of it and it's exciting to think how many new players might enter the hobby with games this good.

Atrotos said...

Invade a friend's house. Tell him he'll let you use his Xbox if he knows what's good for him!

The Antipope said...

I finished the game today. I did like the last level, I wonder why you didn't. I would like to see a final man to man confrontation with the Warboss but oh, well, killing the stompa was fun. I think it's good enough to try and finish it with all the characters and that's what I am going to do!

Atrotos said...

I hated the part where you have to chase the stompa back the way it came. There's no room to maneuver around the rolling mines and there's no way  to dodge shots and melee as well. Why can I only shoot the Stompa's kannon after it comes to a complete stop?!