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Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team Review

  • First Released Jul 13, 2011
  • Reviewed Jul 18, 2011
  • X360

Kill Team's dual-stick shooting action has an old-fashioned arcade appeal, but it's too simple to stand out from the crowd.

Space Marines, those perennial saviors of humankind, are once again called upon to serve in Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team. A gigantic Ork kroozer has been spotted approaching an all-important human world, and it's your job to board the ship and disable it, slaughtering the Orks aboard it in the process. There's an immediate enjoyment that comes from being powerful enough to massacre Orks by the hundreds, but that pleasure fades quickly as the simple action fails to evolve. Some frustrating moments and a puzzling lack of online multiplayer further hamper the fun, making Kill Team's quest to protect humanity a lackluster adventure.

Kill Team is a dual-stick shooter. As you progress through the kroozer, Orks constantly assail you by the dozens, and you use your massive weaponry to mow them down. The game makes you feel tremendously powerful. As you slaughter the Greenskins, a meter rapidly fills up that lets you perform a devastating special move, and power-ups scattered around the environment give you temporary bonuses. These power-ups do things like turn your weapon into a spread gun, give you a shield that blocks enemy projectiles, and so on. For a while, annihilating one group of Orks after another is satisfying in a mindless way, but this doesn't last. Occasionally, you may need to make smart use of power-ups or special attacks to survive particularly overwhelming Ork assaults, but for the most part, this is a point-and-shoot, no-thought-required affair. A few boss battles spice things up a bit from time to time, but because the core action is so simple and never evolves, you're likely to lose interest in battling the Orks long before your mission is complete.

Minor frustrations also crop up from time to time. Camera angles sweep around to give you a better view of where the enemies are emerging from or to provide a dramatic perspective on certain events, such as when you see just how puny you look from atop a massive Ork stompa that's pursuing you. But it's frustrating to be in the midst of a boss fight knowing that there's a health power-up just beyond the edge of the screen and that the only reason you can't reach it is the camera won't follow you. You might also occasionally find yourself dying not at the hands of Orks but as the result of the floor unexpectedly falling out from under your feet, and though you're ready for these occurrences the second time you encounter them, you may need to repeat hefty chunks of gameplay to return to the scenes of these crimes. During one section, you can only see a few steps ahead as you're forced to run along narrow platforms while explosions fill the area behind you. With the dim lighting and the camera shaking, it's hard to tell at times just where you can and can't step. The threat of falling to your death isn't fun to deal with in these situations, and failure is made all the more frustrating by the fact that you need to replay a preceding section should you fall.

Turrets are a techmarine's best friend.
Turrets are a techmarine's best friend.

You play as one of four classes, each of which has its own special move. The librarian has an area-of-effect psychic shockwave, for instance, while the techmarine places a turret that helps gun down enemies for a short time. Some classes, like the huge-gun-wielding sternguard veteran, are better equipped for ranged combat, while others, like the vanguard veteran, carry a smaller gun and a melee weapon. But this variety doesn't add much to the game since the melee combat is as simple as the gunplay; you just tap A to attack. As you play, you unlock new weapons for each class (like a fearsome-looking lightning claw for the vanguard veteran), as well as perks that can be applied to any class, such as increased health, greater melee damage, or longer-lasting power-up benefits. These unlocks are a nice reward for your progress, and they come at a rapid pace, so you never have far to go to unlock the next one. But they don't make the gameplay any more interesting, and once you're tired of mowing down Orks, the prospect of increasing your health perk from +10 percent to +15 percent isn't a compelling enough reason to slog through another mission.

There's only one type of environment in Kill Team, but at least it's a fascinating one. The kroozer's interior appears to have been cobbled together by the Orks from bits and pieces of conquered vessels. The ship's machinery looks simultaneously primitive and impressive, with memorable details including massive piston cores chugging away and an elevator platform that is nothing but a huge rotating gear. Less impressive than the environment is the game's attempt to use slow-motion close-ups to highlight the spectacular carnage you're causing. The limbs of your fallen foes sometimes twitch wildly during these close-ups, and occasionally, the camera zooms in on tiny little Tyranid rippers, who just look comical being killed in slo-mo.

The name of the game isn't Kill Individual, it's Kill Team, and as it suggests, you can team up with a friend to take on the Greenskin hordes. Duos have the advantages of being able to revive each other when one goes down and of benefitting from each other's power-ups by standing close together. Unfortunately, in the dark future of Warhammer 40K, the advanced technology of online play has apparently been lost, and this co-op is local only. What's more, only the primary player earns achievements. These baffling limitations severely limit the accessibility and appeal of the co-op option.

If you can find a partner, you can slaughter Orks even more efficiently.
If you can find a partner, you can slaughter Orks even more efficiently.

It only takes a few hours to blast through Kill Team's five missions. There are also survival challenges in which you fight to see how long you can survive against increasingly powerful waves of enemies, but these rely on the same gameplay that gets tiresome during the campaign. You can return to missions to find collectables and climb leaderboards, but the action is too shallow to make these pursuits rewarding. Kill Team is a forgettable game, and at 10 bucks, it's not a good value, even if you consider the fact that playing it unlocks a powersword for use in the upcoming Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine. Fans of the grim Warhammer 40K universe looking to get in some Ork killing in advance of Space Marine's release, or those who remember the good-old days of arcade dual-stick shooters and are longing for some Smash TV-style fun, may be able to overlook Kill Team's shortcomings and get some enjoyment out of it. But there's no shortage of dual-stick shooters on Xbox Live Arcade, and plenty of them are better than this one.

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The Good
Slaughtering Orks is mindless fun
Ork kroozer environment is grim and compelling
The Bad
Shallow gameplay doesn't hold up for long
Co-op is local only
Cheap deaths and poor checkpoint placement can be frustrating
About GameSpot's Reviews
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Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team More Info

  • First Released Jul 13, 2011
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • Xbox 360
    Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team is a third-person arcade-style shooter.
    Average Rating230 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Nomad Games, THQ Warrington
    Published by:
    Sega, THQ
    Shooter, Third-Person, 3D, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Blood, Violence