It’s inevitable that the mere mention of Games Workshop and their long-running series Warhammer seems will illicit certain opinions, most of which conform to an outdated and rather harsh cliché. Since similar aspersions have been cast on gamers in the past, the two go hand in hand and the release of Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team on PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade tries to bring a touch of Ork filled chaos, in videogame form.
A third person twin stick shooter that’s played out across five different areas, the premise of Kill Team is simple; upon crash landing on an Ork Kroozer (yes that’s how the Orks spell things in the Warhammer universe), an elite band of Space Marines must battle their way through the corridors of the spaceship and bad grammar, all the while creating mayhem and working towards reaching their ultimate goal – taking on the omnipotent Warboss.
There are four classes of Marine to choose from; Sternguard and Techmarine concentrates their focus more on gunplay and ranged weaponry in focus, while the Librarian and Vanguard are more suited to those with a penchant for sword play with their ferocious melee attack. Each class can choose a primary weapon, and also a couple of perks with which to augment your choice of warrior. From health boosts to the ability to prolong the duration of the special move, there’s scope for experimentation and for the player to spec out their Marine exactly how they want it.
Further to the perks there are power-ups dotted throughout levels which soon become an essential part of the experience. From regenerating health to quad damage, each has a limited time once they’re active, meaning a bit of thought has to be applied about when to use them. They cannot be stacked and picking one up will cancel out the effect of the other which is currently in use.
The special move puts the final flourish on the weaponry and becomes a really useful tool in crowd control, helping out when it comes to encounters with larger enemies/boss fights. The sheer power it unleashes is tempered by how quickly it runs out, meaning judicious timing is required for maximum potential.
Considering there are only five areas to traverse, there’s a grand sense of scale going on in Kill Team. The Kroozer is packed with Orks that vary in size from swarms of minor grunts, to giant Alien-style monstrosities that strike fear into the unprepared. Character models show a rich level of detail when the camera zooms in, with visible emblems and demarcation on the Space Marine’s armour. Orks and their ugly visages are rendered in gory detail and the denouement with the Warboss is a flurry of chaos which hammers home the sense of scale and detail on offer. Even those not predisposed to the series will find it hard to argue that Kill Team doesn’t look good.
There’s a sense of mindless glee about Kill Team, as it doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a twin stick shooter, which is to the developers credit. Nonetheless it manages to sweep the player along in its orgy of violence, as the slow drip-feed of unlocked weapons and perks means there is real reward for the slaughter going on all around them. The addition of upgrade beacons dotted around the levels means that if a particular combination isn’t working, it’s easy to reconfigure on the fly. It’s a nice touch that constantly gives the player control as they try to find the perfect combination that suits them.
The local two player co-operative mode is drop-in/out, meaning anyone passing can pick up a joypad and become instantly embroiled in the mass destruction, but sadly there isn’t any online co-op which feels like a real mis-step. This is a fun title to share with a friend and to extend that online would have been the icing on the proverbial cake.
Apart from the lack of online co-op, the other slight chinks in this space armour comes in the form of some ridiculous checkpoints, meaning an untimely death can result in a bit of a slog. There’s also a gratuitous bug which can cause the game to freeze right at the very end of the final boss fight, forcing the player will have to start again. This reviewer experienced this bug for himself, which slightly soured the experience, and a quick trawl through message boards shows that it is by no means an isolated incident. The studio that developed Kill Team have been rapidly disbanded, so this bug will probably never be addressed and is a real shame.
Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team is a fun slice of twin-stick shooting that shouldn’t work but does, despite the bugs and minor flaws. It even provides an experience that might just help blow away some of the prejudices surrounding it in the process.