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Warhammer 40K: Kill Team review: Needs more dakka


If "dakka" makes you instinctively reply "Dakka, Dakka, Dakka!" then you'll likely find Warhammer 40K: Kill Team to be an enjoyable, four-hour twin-stick distraction set in the popular sci-fi fantasy universe. However, if "dakka" means absolutely nothing to you, it'll be hard to see Kill Team as more than an impressive proof-of-concept.

Developed by the shuttered THQ Warrington as a tie-in to upcoming third-person shooter Warhammer 40K: Space Marine, the downloadable game still needed more time to work out some glaring kinks. It feels like a glorified, extended demo for some new extension of the Warhammer 40K franchise, a license best known for its use in THQ's Dawn of War real-time strategy series.

Gallery: Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team (XBLA/PSN) | 8 Photos

As Space Marines, you and a couch buddy -- there's no online co-op (and I can't recommend playing it alone) -- are tasked with shooting your way through the bowels of an Ork Kroozer, destroying subsystems of the space behemoth en route to kill the Ork Warboss.

At the beginning of each of the five levels, you'll choose from ranged Space Marine classes like the Sternguard Veteran and Techmarine, or the melee-focused Vanguard Veteran and Librarian. You'll also add perks that are slowly acquired through the campaign and make the cosmetic change of Chapter affiliation (color) for your warriors.

Each level of the game delivers wave after wave of orks -- with a guest appearance by the insectile tyranids -- as you're tasked to blow up Kroozer subsystems. There's nothing really thrilling about any of the missions, but the conclusion to each one is slightly different, providing a little variety. In one, you'll have to shoot off the shielding for four pumps in a room, while another forces you to navigate a hard-to-discern thin walkway that's collapsing, where one wrong turn by either partner means redoing the whole section over again (that one took several tries).

There are several moments when the game's progression comes to a grinding halt. The time crunch facing the developer seems apparent, otherwise I imagine some of the game's events would have given clearer directions or better checkpoints. There are a couple of scenes where the floor is crumbling and it's not very clear which direction you're supposed to run. There's also a very finicky encounter where you'll have to dash from an enemy, only to end up in a room swarming with tyranids ... with no checkpoint between the two. None of this is frustrating to the point of causing a rage quit, but it's obvious these are things that would (could, should) have been fixed with more time.

Another oddity, beyond not including online co-op, is that only "player one" can earn Achievements. Kill Team can be completed in a few hours and you'll get most of the Achievements in one pass, so it's not completely crazy to play the game again, but your couch companion probably deserved the Achievements the first time around.

Some nice touches in Kill Team include the sharing of power-ups, an intuitive upgrade and perk system, a solid presentation and some decent setpieces. The $10 price is a little hard to swallow for anyone who isn't a Warhammer 40K fan, especially compared to the quality and scope of other titles available at that price. It would have been a solid purchase and its flaws more forgivable at $5, like Capcom's conceptually similar, semi-promotional (and successful) release of Dead Rising 2: Case Zero.

Warhammer 40K: Kill Team may have a questionable price point for what it offers, but it does deliver a different, potentially compelling type of Warhammer 40K experience to fans of the universe. Instead of simply clicking around a screen and hotkeying special moves like in Dawn of War, it's fun to actually control a Space Marine in a more personal, focused way. As we wait to see how Warhammer 40K: Space Marine turns out, Kill Team is a good first step in moving 40K beyond the comfortable confines of the RTS genre.

This review is based on the final version of Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team provided by THQ available now for $10 on XBLA and "later this summer" on PSN.

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