Warhammer 40,000: Storm of Vengeance | PC | Eutechnyx
Cor blimey. This game is going to cause some controversy and no mistake.
If you were going to write a crash course in ‘dodgy ground to make games on because of fanboys’ then the Warhammer universe would have to be somewhere near the top. Hosts of loyal neckbeards who would happily die for the Emperor today if it bought glory to the Imperium and in the meantime they’re all ready to jump onto internet forums at the slightest provocation or conceived slight against their beloved franchise.
And if you’re getting your hackles up right now about how rude I am being to 40k fans, then that means you are one of those neckbeards – even (and especially) if you’re a girl.
Throw into the pot the fact that the developer of this particular Warhammer game is the very same who created one of the worst games of last year in Ride to Hell Retribution AND that this Warhammer game is basically just a reskin of one of the developer’s earlier titles, Ninja Cats vs. Samurai Dogs. What have you got? A big, delicious stew made of web forum bile. Our job is to grab a big spoon and see if we can’t find any moist, meaty chunks beneath the scummy top crust…
Storm of Vengeance is a lane defence game which at first glance looks a little like Plants Vs. Zombies but is in fact a little more dynamic than PopCap’s classic. You begin as the Space Marines, in particular the Dark Angels, and your job is to wipe out the Ork threat on each screen. This is done by building bases on the start of your lanes that will either generate ‘currency’ to deploy units or cards that represent the actual units themselves.
You can create Drop Pods that spawn standard Tactical Marines, Ravens create melee focussed Assault Marines whilst Rhinos are used to make long-ranged Devastator Marines. That’s pretty much it for standard troops – but they can be augmented with special abilities including plasma weapons (slightly better guns) and grenades (wheeeee! Kaboom!).
Early levels are a case of hurling as many troops as you can down a given lane like so many heavily armoured bowling balls, a tactic that eventually results in the crushing of the Ork defenses at the other end of the lane. The Xenos scum eventually start to build units which require you to show a little more tactical nuance and you will need to think more carefully about lane positioning, troop priority and spending Resolve – the secondary currency – on special defensive towers, grenades and bike mounted troops.
Capture three ork lanes and you’ll win the stage which means earning experience points for you to spend on troop unlocks and more special powers. Fortunately the difficulty of the game is balanced to an extent that the early levels are simple enough to allow you to gain a few upgrades before things get difficult – meaning you don’t struggle if you invest points in a skill you don’t seem to use much. By late game you’ll find that there’s a place for all the skills, but it can take a while before you really see the advantages to some of the powers.
It is in those early levels where you’re figuring out the best combination of towers and troops that the game is at its most effective. Progress is straightforward but it feels like you’re building towards something. None of the problems that come to dampen your enjoyment of the game are yet present and you’re having a good time. Anyone who spends a couple of hours total playing this before moving on to something else is likely to have a reasonably high opinion of the game.
So, problem time. I daresay if you look around the net after reading this review, you’re going to find that there are a fair number of below average scores for the game. Some of these are going to be based on more or less valid criticisms dependant on what’s important to you, so let’s take a look at some points.
1 – “It’s not a true Warhammer 40k game!”A tricky and debatable point this. It walks like a 40k game and quacks like a 40k game, but the web is up in arms anyway. There is a story to the game but it’s fairly nondescript. The text that pops up before a mission is ‘generic Warhammer speak’. It’s what I would expect from the franchise without being interesting. In the game itself, the fact that the Marines are Dark Angels makes not one scrap of difference to the gameplay. So the skin of 40k is there, but that’s all it is – a thin veneer over the top.
2 – “It lacks interactivity.” Can’t ague with this really. There are many times in the game where you’re simply sat waiting and there’s not really a lot to do. This wouldn’t be so bad, except the AI for both you and Orks is incredibly frustrating. Units will frequently walk right past one another or prioritise attack something that makes no sense whatsoever. The inability to be able to direct your units’ attacks is a crushing blow to the game, as it allows your troops to fire across lanes but they sometimes do so at the expense of the lane they’re in – defeating the point of them being spawned in that lane in the first place and hugely frustrating later in the game where it can be the difference between success and failure.
3 – “It’s ‘just’ a mobile game.”This is basically impossible to argue with. Storm of Vengeance is also out on iOS and without a shadow of a doubt I’d say that was the best way to play. If you’re at all interested in this title, the touch screen input method and the fact that tablet play lends itself to more bite sized gaming experiences suggest that mobile is the way to go. We tend to have different expectations from games presented to us in this format and the odd dodgy control or strange AI decision is more easily forgiven in a £3 title that you play on the train to work than a £6 game you’re playing on your PC.
4- To say that Warhammer 40,000: Storm of Vengeance is a difficult game to rate would be an understatement. It seems like it was designed to appeal to fans of the Warhammer franchise but almost certainly won’t, since it lacks the depth of titles such as Dawn of War or the excitement of Space Marine.
There is certainly a kernel of something here, but it’s obscured by occasionally dodgy mechanics and too much repetition. As a PC game I would say it’s one to avoid but if you find yourself looking for something to pass a couple of hours on a National Express coach ride to Skegness, you could probably do worse than to check it out on your mobile device.
Warhammer 40,000 is out now on PC and iOS.