Warhammer 40K: Space Marine – Emperor’s Elite? Maybe not so much!

Hey look, my second gaming post!  I would’ve never expected I’d be talking about a Warhammer 40K game, but here it is!  Not entirely sure why I decided to post this, perhaps it was due to the stupid ordeal I had to go through this past week trying to get my order fufilled correctly and I just wanted to vent a little.

But first off, I just wanted to say I’ve been a fan of Warhammer: 40K and Warhammer: Fantasy Battles for the longest time.  I started collecting back in high school, my friends and I started off with Warhammer: Fantasy and my first army was the Bretonnians.  I think I amassed an army around 5000 points, sadly most of them are left unpainted.  LOL  I then moved on to collecting Space Marines for the 40K series and probably amassed an army around 2000 points.  It’s been a long time and I can’t really remember – I’ve always wanted to get back into playing and painting the figures but I just don’t have the time.  Plus, all my friends stopped collecting and playing too, so I don’t really have anyone to play with or to motivate me on painting the rest of my armies.

That’s where games like Dawn of War came in, it fufilled my tabletop gameplay urges conveniently on the PC, without having to mess around with bits and pieces nor spending hours and hours on trying to paint them.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s a great satisfaction in completing the figures, but it’s just so damn time consuming (and the figures themselves are fairly costly).  While the Dawn of War series satisfied the RTS aspect, I was eagerly anticipating THQ’s new release of the franchise in the form of a 3rd person shooter.

The game was released earlier this week, on Tuesday, September 6th, 2011, and I had placed a pre-order with my local GameStop Canada months ago.  GameStop’s pre-order exclusive was dubbed the “Emperor’s Elite Pack”, which contained special armor sets for the Black Templars and Space Wolves Chapters.  I got the call from the store on Tuesday and went to pick up my game after work – at checkout, I asked the sales girl about the exclusive code, and the look on her face was NOT promising.  She had that “Oh, sorry to disappoint you” look and told me that none of their orders had the pre-order exclusive codes included.  She had inquired with her manager but haven’t received any updates yet – so she took my name and number and said she’d call me back the next day.  But I knew she wouldn’t.  No girls ever called me back.

 

I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and waited till Wednesday afternoon before calling the store.  This time I talked to a guy, and he wasn’t really helpful at all.  He told me that all the pre-order codes were limited supplies so those that had came to pick up the games before me got all their codes already so I was SOL.  I knew he was just saying that to get me off the phone, but being the pushover that I am, I just said okay and hung up.

By this time, I was a little disappointed – but I decided to wait another day to try again.  Meanwhile, I played through some of the single player campaign as well as the multiplayer.  I have to say I’m quite impressed with THQ’s take on this shooter – the graphics are beautiful and the ambiance feels like the Warhammer 40K universe.  My gripe with the single player, though, is the typical storyline of Chaos corruption and the portrayal of the Ultramarines Chapter.  They’re so… vanilla, IMO.  Yes, they’re the poster child of Warhammer 40K, but there’s really nothing intriguing about their Chapter.  Dark Angels have a dark secret, the Blood Angels have their gene curse of the Black Rage, Black Templars are on their crusade, Space Wolves have their primal ferocity, etc.  Ultramarines?  They’re balanced.  Wooooooo!  Yeah, they make for a great army but lacks the intrigue that many of the other Chapters have.

The single player campaign is also a bit typical in that it’s “one man vs. the world” kind of deal.  It’d be nice to go into a mass battle site with squads of Space Marines against the countless Orks or Chaos Space Marines.  Maybe there is and I haven’t played far enough into the game yet, but so far it’s pretty much me, myself and I taking on hordes of Space Orks.  Sometimes there are 2 or 3 other Space Marines following me, but they don’t really do anything but yell and run in front of my reticules.

I’ve read a lot of threads and players complaining the game’s not polished and that the game crashes constantly.  Graphical bugs such as black texture and stretched textures plaguing the game, making players unable to play the game properly.  In my experience though, I haven’t come across any of these issues (yet), and I haven’t crashed once yet in my 15 hours of gameplay.  I’m currently running a Core i7-950 @ 3.07GHz, 6GB RAM on Win 7 Ultimate 64-bit with an nVidia GTX 580 (courtesy of EVGA’s superclock model) @ 1920 x 1080 resolution.

The multiplayer, so far, has been pretty fun as well.  It also has the somewhat industry standard RPG element, where you can attain achievements during gameplay to unlock more skills, armors and weapons.  From my experience, the gaming is pretty smooth and the online battles have been frantic and exciting.  Sometimes it is hard to distinquish if the other player is on the same side as you though, because Chaos Space Marines and regular Space Marines tend to look similar.  Many times I’ve found myself shooting at a purple coloured Space Marine, thinking he was Chaos (i.e. Emperor’s Children Legion) only to find out he’s actually on my side.  Luckily, friendly fire was turned off on the server – which can be turned on, but I’ll bet there’ll be a lot of rage quitting due to team kills.  LOL

Upon achieving level 4 in multiplayer, you unlock the Customizer for your profile, which allows you to start modifying the colour scheme, armor and weapon loadouts of your Space Marine or Chaos Space Marine.  I never did finalize a paint scheme for my custom Chapter when I was playing 40K way back when - my early sample squad of Space Marine had blue and shades of gray camo paint job, which I think turned out great but I never continued that trend.  I’ve always had the idea of basing my chapter off the Imperial Fists and making them a specialized urban defense / city fight themed Chapter.  But then that meant I should include some yellow into the paint scheme to relate the Chapter back to its origince.  Yellow in an urban camo, as you may have surmised, wouldn’t work too well in an urban setting.  I then thought of using some aspects of ACU’s (US Army Combat Uniform) colour scheme to paint my Space Marines, but by that time I had stopped playing the actual table top game and packed up my figures into boxes.  So with the customizer option in the recent game, I put a sample scheme together for my online Space Marine.  This isn’t final, but I think is a decent start should I ever get back into painting and designing my custom Chapter.

 

I’m currently level 11 out of 41, and thus far I found myself surprisingly decent at playing a support role using the heavy bolter.  In one session, I placed first on my team and had a 15-kill streak with the heavy bolter.  The score here isn’t all that impressive, but my team still won and sadly I was the best on our team for that session.  LOL  THQ indicated they will be releasing a 4-player co-op mode for online play some time in October, though it may only be something as simple as co-op against endless waves of Orks and seeing how long you can survive.  May not be that exciting, but at least it’s some form of co-op!  Games have been lacking some serious co-op gameplay in recent years – I miss the good old Rainbow Six / Rogue Spear days with my friends.

So Thursday rolled along and I decided to give GameStop another call.  This time the girl I was originally dealing with answered the phone and told me that they received a new batch of the game with the exclusive pre-order bonus codes inside and that she also obtained a code for me.  So I went to the store to pick up my code after work - very happily might I add - and came straight home to try it out.  I loaded up Steam and input the code, the amount of digits matched, so I clicked on “submit” and eagerly hoped for the best.  “Sorry, your code is not recognized.”  Cue sappy broken heart music.  I tried the code again and again, thinking I might have mis-typed it.  Nope.  The code simply didn’t work.  So I hit up THQ’s site dedicated to the Space Marine game and saw that they had a Pre-Order Issues thread.  Wow, I wasn’t alone – this seemed like a common problem in all regions and not just happening to me.  People who have picked up their pre-orders didn’t receive any code for the exclusive items either.  Even worse, there are those that have pre-ordered the Collector’s Edition (exclusive from THQ’s site) that haven’t even received their game yet.  Some are even being told that their pre-order couldn’t be fulfilled due to inventory shortage.  Talk about a logistical nightmare – someone, somewhere, screwed up really bad.  Is it THQ’s fault or somewhere in the supply chain management?

So I decided to try e-mailing THQ about my incorrect code to see if there’s anything they can do.  I had serious doubts that I’d get a reply, but by that night I received a reply.  They were able to verify my bonus code, but it was for the XBOX 360 version of the game, not PC.  I was dismayed and lost hope of ever getting my pre-order bonus.  Not that it was the end of the world, but I think it’s the principle of it all.  While I know these pre-order bonuses are subject to availability and are limited in quantity, these codes weren’t even supplied to the local retailers to begin with.  And it’s not just GameStop Canada, there are gamers out in the US, UK, Australia, etc. with the same issue.

So today morning, I gave my local GameStop another call and one of the girls I dealt with on Tuesday answered the phone.  I told her about the code that I got on Thursday wasn’t for the PC version and inquired if they really did receive a new batch of the game with the exclusive codes inside.  She said, “Yeah, we do.  Oh wait, why don’t I just open one up and give you the code?  Don’t know why we didn’t do that in the first place.”  I was like, suuuuuuuuuuuure!  It really wasn’t what I was going to ask, but if she could offer that to me, that’d be great.  So she gave met he code over the phone and I tried it out after work (yeah, work showed up a lot in this post, huh?).  Lo and behold, the code worked.  Interestingly, the “Emperor’s Elite Pack” also comes with the “Traitor Legions Pack”, which was supposed to be a Best Buy exclusive.  So now I have four exclusive armour sets unlocked instead of the advertised two.  I assume this is true for everybody else who has the code, but I haven’t come across anyone saying “Yahoo!” on the THQ forum yet.  Odd.

 

I later dropped by the store and picked up the actual card with the code on it so I can put it in my game packaging.  The sales girl showed me the new batch of the game that they got had a yellow sticker on the packaging whereas the version that I got did not.  I read a post on the THQ forum which rumored that there may have actually been two different releases of the standard game package in North America, one with the exclusive bonus code and one without.  Based upon my experience, I think that rumour may be true.

So if anyone out there is having the same problem I had with regards to the Emperor’s Elite Pack bonus codes, try your local retailer again to see if they have received a new batch of the game with the codes inside.  I decided to post this up hoping it might help someone out there looking for answers.  I’m glad my local GameStop came through for me and for THQ’s support department actually responding to my e-mails.  Hope those who pre-ordered the Collector’s Edition directly from THQ will eventually get their order fufilled too.  So far, I think this is a really well developed game and does the Warhammer 40K franchise proud – any Warhammer fan out there shouldn’t be disappointed in this title.  The game feels polished and the fierce ground combat (especially melee) is dazzling.  It’s a real shame about the logistics of the launch though, which may plague THQ’s credability in the long run unless they can offer a remedy to these missing codes and particularly the shortage on the collector’s editions.

*images found in this post were sourced from various sites, such as Games Workshop, THQ’s game site, Warhammer’s Wiki page as well as my own*