Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
Hating Warhammer 40k and Space Marine

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 4 Oct 2011 12:00
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You know what Warhammer 40K is? It's the product of a generation that has never known any kind of real conflict or struggle. No-one in the trenches of the Somme would pass their time imagining something even worse. No-one talks about the "glory of battle" when they're trying to sleep through a shelling raid with a bad case of trench foot. But that's the whole "Space Marine" thing, from what I can gather, a bunch of people who've based this mad space religion on how many twats they've chainsawed in half. Also they're FIFTEEN FEET TALL and weigh like a TON and they have ROBOT LEGS and CHAINSAW SWORDS and they FIGHT ORKS ALL DAY NNNGH MORE RITALIN PLEASE NURSE!

Now, I'm sure Warhammer 40K is a lovely tabletop strategy game. It's not my bag, I was and still am into storytelling play rather than win/lose wargaming, but I'm sure it means a lot to you. I just get a bad taste in my mouth when anyone starts talking about the backstory or setting. Because it's dumb as hell. Right from the word go: "In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war," it declares. There can't "only" be war, don't be stupid. People would have to stop and go to the lavatory at some point. And I've said before that no authority would seriously pursue a supersoldier project when it's infinitely cheaper and more practical to just put normal people in vehicles or powered armor who could then get out of the vehicle or powered armor and go study to become an accountant or something. This is why no one wrote up a detailed backstory explaining why the little horse-shaped piece moves two squares forward and one to the side.

I guess it just annoys me that the retarded and thuggish Space Marine concept has had such an influence on shooters of today, both directly and indirectly. As for the Space Marine game itself, yeah, it's Gears of War. You plod about on your big chunky teddy bear feet getting brown in your face, and none of the main characters display any emotion whatsoever. Usually you can rely on these kinds of protagonists to exist in a permanent state of generic rage, but these guys can't even emote on that level, they're just lampshades mounted to the tops of upended Volkswagen Beetles. And the writing's as witless as you might expect. At one point the boy's club happens upon an outpost commander who has been talked up by other characters for a while and discovers that she's an attractive young lady. "Oh god, you chunky fucks are going to be taken aback by this, aren't you," I predicted. And sure enough, they were, in the least emotional possible way.

It's kind of interesting how you can only heal up damage from doing special melee finishers on enemies, but half the time the enemies aren't melee-based and will just shoot your fat arse, and the other half of the time there are so many melee enemies clustered together that it's impossible to set them up for finishing moves without taking a few hits on the flank, which are precisely what you don't need at that point. On the whole, not terrible enough to despise, nowhere near good enough to recommend. Just boring. My least favorite kind of game.

And people give it a free ride 'cos it's finally a space marine game with the original, trademarked, capital-S Space Marines. But being the first to do something doesn't necessarily make you good at it. I could be the first person to peel off a child's face, roll it into a tube and work it into my cockhole, but no-one's going to call me the standard by which all future supply teachers should be judged.

Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn't talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games and writes the back page column for PC Gamer, who are too important to mention us. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.

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