Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team review

What’s in a name? For Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team, pretty much everything. Serving as the digital herald for the equally straight-to-the-point Warhammer 40k: Space Marine, Kill Team’s all about one thing: raising the ever-loving shit out of Nintendogs. Yeah, no. Try killing. Typically with one hulking, armor-clad friend, which we suppose puts you in the bare minimum range for a team. And in the opposite corner? A billion enraged ant hill’s worth of shotgun-toting, sword-slinging Orks. We know, we know. It’s not fair. For them.

Above: To answer the question “Well then, what do you bring to a gunfight?” That. All of that

We have to imagine Kill Team was born after a random, torrid night of passion between Diablo and Geometry Wars, which ended on a rather sour note when Alien Swarm burst out of one of their chests. At its heart, Kill Team’s a twin-stick shooter, but multiple character classes, a near-constant stream of upgrades, and a bloody bodycount that could blot out the sun make it a new, decidedly satisfying beast.

Make no mistake, however: this isn’t a complicated game. You pick from four classes – with Sternguard Veteran and Techmarine going in guns-a-blazing while Vanguard Veteran and Librarian hack and slash more than they shoot – and move through a series of linear levels. Between you and your largely inconsequential objectives? Orks, Tyranids, and not-much-else, oh my! Honestly, though, bears aren’t necessary (or, for that matter, relevant) here, as a healthy number of enemy types will hurl themselves in front of your unending torrent of bullets like someone told them there was free candy on the other side.

Above: Whoa there. Down, boy! Now where’s your owner, you big goof?

In the wrong hands, such a formula could grow stale in seconds, but Kill Team turns that particular devil into a smoking crater (and then kills the smoke for good measure) with details. Foremost, weapons and movement simply feel good. Even with the camera pulled way out, your space marine is a lumbering, Ork-ragdolling colossus, and the game goes to great lengths to make sure you never forget. Variety also comes in the form of plentiful power-ups, which include everything from rapid fire to multi-shot to temporary invulnerability.

Classes, meanwhile, are nicely differentiated via universe-obliterating special attacks and customizable upgrade slots. While fairly basic in nature, these things lend a surprising amount of depth to each class. For instance, it’s tempting to send the Librarian charging in – sword raised and brain probably in some other dimension – but you won’t last long. Mastering the sword-swinging psychic’s range, however, yields results. Pepper enemies with your pistol to build up your special meter, go into murder blender mode when enemies get too close, and then unleash a psychic blast to wipe out the survivors. Also, we have to make special mention of the Techmarine’s turret, because damn.

Above: Orks ams gud at the speeling

Kill Team’s a pleasant surprise, sure, but it does manage to trip over its gigantic mechanical feet in a couple key areas. For one, levels frequently toe the line between functional and downright repetitive – sometimes repeating sequences until your deja vu gets deja vu. Also, the game’s clearly designed with multiplayer in mind, rendering a couple sections nearly impossible to solo if you’re playing a melee-focused class. And then there’s your commander, who constantly halts the action via unnecessary almost-cutscenes to tell you what to do next. That’d be understandable if this were some sort of upside-down staircase MC Escher nightmare dungeon, but it’s not. Kill Team’s linear almost to a fault, and the commander will have you making up a name for him and then cursing it as a result.

On top of all that, there’s the issue of length. Kill Team’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it affair, clocking in at around four hours. Granted, it’s a $10 downloadable title, so we can’t really give it too much flack for that. Kill Team, then, is definitely worth a look if you’re hoping to kill a little time. It may not blow your mind, but you’ll be too busy blasting everything that moves to care.

Jul 15, 2011

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