Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team just kind of came out of nowhere. It was announced at E3, our own Kyle MacGregor couldn’t get enough of it, and now it’s upon us, all in what seems like a matter of days!
As a fan of the tabletop game myself, I had to delve into THQ’s recent rendition of the grimdark 40K universe and see if they got it right. Read on to find out the results of my adventure.
In 40K Lore, a “Kill Team” is a band of no less than 5 Space Marines that are tasked with carrying out a specific objective. Of course, these just aren’t any Space Marines – these are genetically modified super soldiers, ready to take on legions of enemies all by themselves. Unlike most twin-stick shooters which put you in the shoes of an ordinary ship, or footsoldier, Kill Team actually has a point to your overwhelming power. You see, 40K Space Marines have multiple organs, can run days on end without stopping, and are fine-tuned killing machines. In short, you’re going to be doing a lot of killing, which is bad news for Orks and Tyranids alike.
Your available heroes are the Librarian (Sorceror), the Sternguard Veteran (Ranged), the Vanguard Veteran (Melee), and the Tech Marine (Utility). All of them have a varying balance of ranged and melee abilities, and most of them mesh fairly well in the two player couch coop mode. For instance, you can have player one take care of melee and crowd control as the Librarian, and player two can sit back, relax, and mow down hordes as the Sternguard Veteran.
The campaign in Kill Team features a five mission story mode that takes place entirely in a giant Ork Spacecraft. While the mission themes themselves are varied a bit, you still get that Dragon Age II deja-vu feeling of re-used environments, which is unfortunate given how amazingly vast the Warhammer 40K universe is. Even after mission 3, you might find yourself wanting to take a break, and clear your mind a bit before you jump right back into the depths of the ship.
Control-wise, Kill Team doesn’t mess around – given that it’s a twin stick shooter, it’s incredibly easy to control, and there aren’t too many abilities to get confused with. When I say simple, I mean simple: you can shoot, melee, sprint, throw grenades, and use one special ability – that’s about it.
Each of your heroes can utilize their own loadout, consisting of three to four special weapons, and a Call of Duty style perk system, that allows you to attach two special abilities. While it isn’t the most robust system, for a $10 arcade game, it’s more than the vast majority of twin-stick shooters would offer.
The strategy element to Kill Team is fairly sparse – as a general rule, if you’re comfortable with killing weak enemies at range, and strong enemies with melee attacks, that’s just about all the tactical acumen you’ll need. As long as you’re comfortable with the genre you should enjoy it however, because Kill Team mostly plays like a Gauntlet Legends type action dungeon crawler, without the exploration elements. As far as enemy diversity goes, Kill Team will throw pretty much everything from the Ork and Tyranid codex at you (excluding special characters). Make sure your sound is turned up, so you can hear the glorious WAAAAGH cries from the Orks.
So where does Kill Team go wrong? Well, for starters, the campaign mode only lasts around 3.5-4 hours, and after you’re done, there’s a score attack based survival mode…and that’s about it. If you want, you can beat all five missions over again with each champion while messing around with offline coop, so your mileage may vary depending on how much fun you had across the five stage sprawl.
Kill Team also has a few noticeable glitches, like instant cheap deaths, and glitching checkpoints that don’t actually save, forcing you to go back as far as fifteen minutes on one mission: I even had my game lock up at the end of the boss fight.
Kill Team is also notorious for holding your hand, which is a very odd design choice given that the game is so short. Every single mission will be dictated by your commander, who won’t hesitate to freeze your character, and tell you every single objective, enemy, and item you have to deal with – all of this is coupled with very slow moving, non-skippable cutscenes (even after you’ve completed a mission). On my second playthrough, I was shouting at the screen “ok! I get it! I need to press this obvious lever!” – while it’s not unforgivable, it can get pretty annoying at times.
As far as replay value goes, there’s one unlockable part of the game, and it’s kind of lame – as a bonus for all your hard work in obtaining all ten hidden emblems in each stage, your only reward is some concept art. It would have been cool to work towards special character upgrades to existing classes, such as Vulkan. It’s no secret that the 40K universe is incredibly vast, so why not use it?
Gaunlet Legends utilized a similar mechanic involving unlocking “super” versions of existing champions and it easily encouraged multiple playthroughs in a short amount of time. The lack of online coop is also confounding in this day and age, when it’s pretty much expected. Despite these shortcomings, there are a few extras that some people may care about, such as a free “power sword” unlock for the upcoming Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine game, and online leaderboards.
Overall, you can’t really expect a whole lot from Kill Team in terms of diversity – at it’s core, it’s a hack and slash/twin stick shooter with slight RPG elements. While I had a lot of fun with it, one can only hope THQ will branch out, show us more of the grimdarkness of the 40K world, and fix a few technical snags along the way.