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Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team

THQ's downloadable precursor to Space Marine comes out swinging

Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team leaves me conflicted. On the one hand, it resembles a Warhammer game in much the same way a shrunken head on a stake resembles a travelling anthropologist. All the strategy is gone, scooped out and dunked to one side to make room for the blaring thuggery also prevalent in this August's Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, only without that game's wrist-shaking implementation.

A choice of Chapters (as in Space Marine households) and ranged, support, melee and psychic classes is as close to the tabletop war experience as Kill Team gets. From the second the first cut scene ends, your options are threefold. You can hold down A button till everything in the vicinity shatters, see off distant opposition by angling a brightly coloured fusillade with the right stick, or grip left bumper for a screen-clearing super move.

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If all this sounds like a slap to the face for those who spent their teenage years inhaling paint fumes and fingering twenty-sided dice, there's nothing here that's actually broken. Well, apart from the slightly spotty enemy pathfinding. And the inability to drop out of two-player co-op. And that time I couldn't damage a flame turret on a boss for no reason, unless you count deep-seated AI resentment of my awesomeness.

Tackled in pairs, the game's rudimentary class divisions get a toe-hold on the concept of decent entertainment. Some of the special abilities are quite funky, like the Techmarine's portable turret or the Vanguard Veteran's jet-powered dash. Shame the co-op's local only. Additional brownie points can be squeezed from the graphics, which nestle a little below the best Xbox Live Arcade has to offer. Orc-built environments blend scraped edges with a loud palette for a tacky but tasty visual finish, and performance is smooth.

None of that's really enough, though, to shake the impression that Kill Team is just an excuse to charge Space Marine players another 800 MSP for a jazzy downloadable sword. That's a conclusion drawn from a playthrough of two levels, but with only four more in the canister, the finished article seems unlikely to persuade us otherwise.

There's nothing wrong with warming players up for a game with a bite-sized teaser, but if you're putting a price on something, it needs to stand alone. As fundamentally inoffensive as the roving beat 'em up mechanics may be, Kill Team is unlikely to win you over.

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