I’ve been a huge fan of the Warhammer series. Countless hours were spent building a formidable army of Space Marines with fully upgraded bolt pistols, mowing down the heretics and nonbelievers. That joy has not been kept away from mobile, thanks to Roadhouse Interactive’s latest Warhammer 40K title that launched on iOS and more recently, Android. Welcome to Warhammer 40 000: Carnage.
Whilst you won’t be controlling a massive army, you do get to control one nondescript space marine who is on a quest to rescue a planet on the brink of destruction, thanks to the ferocious Ork horde. Not horribly heart wrenching stuff really, but that’s okay because this highly generic plot is soon forgotten in the mire of combat.
I’m going to make a controversial statement here, but please read through my reasoning before you raise your pitchforks. Okay, here goes. The gameplay is about as scintillating as the plot. The game description reads “lightning fast blood bath will push your Tablet or Phone to [its] limits” but the only thing lightning fast is the shortness of the levels and it’s not so much a blood bath as it is a dull, repetitive stew.
The gameplay is fairly simple and well implemented in the game. As a space marine, you can shoot or melee enemies in your way. There are 3 hit combos, charged attacks, (which you execute by holding down a button and then releasing) aerial attacks and you also have the ability to block incoming attacks. Whilst this all sounds great, blocking is unnecessary as most enemies can be taken out in one or two hits from your ranged weapon.
The ease of dispatching enemies means you’re simply running forward and shooting. Occasionally you have to whip out your chainsaw to melee a “super” Ork that last 4 hits instead of 1. If you could string moorcre intricate or exciting combos, this button bashing would be great but in Carnage, it leaves a lot to be desired. At certain stages you fight a “boss” Ork who only has two movies. A ‘blast’ that knocks you back if you try to melee him and a shockwave from his giant hammer if you shoot from afar. This leads to you simply shooting and jumping to dodge the shockwave. This wastes a good minute or so of your life that you don’t get back.
Another painful aspect of this game is the jumping. Sometimes, for no reason at all, there are gaping holes in the floor that require you to hop over. However, they did it so that unless you jump at the very, very last centimetre, you don’t make it across and fall in. Jumping isn’t so much a simple action as it is an exercise in guessing the hitbox of the ground. This becomes particularly annoying when you’re trying to jump and shoot at the same time.
Despite all this, Carnage does do some things right. This is a large array of weapons that can either be bought or collected as rewards. From bolt pistols to plasma pistols, chainsaws to Wolverine-esque clawed fists, there is something there for everyone and whatever playstyle you want.
The problem comes in with obtaining these awesome weapons. For completing levels, you earn silver which can be used to buy random weapons presented for purchase, a concept that baffles me. After every mission, a random assortment of weapons are available to be purchased and upgraded. This selection is randomized after every mission, so you have to decide there and then to purchase a new weapon or not. On top of that, some items aren’t always better than your current loadout, so why they’re shown is beyond me. Until you realise the game’s revenue model follows that of a free-to-play game. Except that you paid for the game.
There are 3 kinds of currency in Carnage. Silver, Gold or Blood Ore. Silver, as I’ve explained, you earn for completing missions. Gold can be purchased using real world money and that allows you to buy anything, be it Silver or Blood Ore priced items. Blood Ore, is a currency that can only be obtained by completing Fireteam missions, a concept I will cover later.
To purchase powerful equipment from the Armoury, you have to use either Gold or Blood Ore. If you’re not willing to do that, then you have to make do with the weaker, randomized options given to you in the Supply Cache. A paid game with this kind of a model is rather sad. And greedy.
There is some hope yet for the game, with the multiplayer co-op concept featured in the game. Called Fireteam missions, this mode allows you to complete tougher missions co-op with other players (up to 3 other players), however the catch is that it can only be friends on your Facebook or Google account. The game also promises to allow players to join companies (Warhammer term for squads) and then perform missions together. Whether this is still restricted to friends or will allow online play is unknown.
Further hope comes in the level of replayability built into the game. Once you have completed a mission, you can return to it, but with game modifiers. Mods such as playing in darkness, exploding enemies, banning melee weapons and a host of other settings make missions different and more challenging.
Graphics and sound
Despite the lacklustre gameplay, the levels are beautifully crafted. There are barriers to knock down, holes to knock enemies into and slopes to slide down with thrilling speed. I do think more could be done with level variation, but hopefully this comes with the expansion packs. In fact, they do promise to add more maps to the 2 already put in this release, thus you can expect more. A particularly nice feature is how your space marine looks progressively more ‘bad-ass’ as you upgrade various items such as chest pieces, head gear, backpack etc.
You will be accompanied in your high speed run through enemies to a rock themed soundtrack, a genre often used in Warhammer games. It fits well with the high tempo the game aims to create for the player.
This is a game that I just can’t seem to enjoy. The repetitive combat, the bland enemy designs, the free-to-play model in a paid game, there are so many factors that make this game unenjoyable. Having said that, there is a lot packed into the game. A large amount of weapons, tons of levels and the added replayability with game modifiers means you have a lot to do. This is a button basher packed with content.
Carnage will make a good time waster with a lot to do, but if you’d like to play a game that is genuinely enjoyable and challenging and not just waste your time, you might want to give it a miss. Warhammer: Carnage is available on Android and iOS devices. The damage to your wallet is R74.99 and you can purchase it on the Play Store here and iTunes here. The size of the game is 66mb.
Note: This game is resource intensive so make sure you have a powerful device if you consider purchasing. Recommended specs include 1GB of RAM.
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