Approaching Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team as someone who has never played a single title from the Warhammer franchise, I felt daunted during the intro cut scene. It’s not because the game was shoving character names and events from the Warhammer universe down my throat, but simply because I was aware that the name carries a vast amount of fiction with it, whether it’s from the tabletop games, novels, or previous games in the franchise. Accepting my amount of knowledge of the universe, or lack thereof, I pressed on with an open mind, and a curious eye. I figured I would take the approach of a newcomer, so that I could judge Kill Team on its own merits.
Depending on how you choose to play it, Kill Team is either a twin stick shooter, or a hack-and-slash action game, wrapped in third-person arcade-style gameplay, with the option of two-player couch co-op. As the player, you start by choosing your chapter, which are different factions or organizations of Warhammer space marines. I gathered absolutely no difference between the options given, other than palette swaps for the available classes, and what their back-story was in the codex — Kill Team’s in-game encyclopedia that players can use to read-up on all that lore I was talking about. Once a chapter is chosen, you decide on one of four character classes, ranging from marines that are strong at ranged combat and poor at melee, to others that are meant to focus more on melee gameplay rather than shooting their varied long range weapons. Each class has a different melee weapon type, ranged weapon type, and special attack.
Once you’ve picked your character, you’re ready to start mowing down hordes (no really, I mean a pretty large and satisfying amount of enemies per level, especially later on in the game) with either your mighty melee X button, or your righteous ranged right analog stick, or both. As you go on slaughtering hundreds upon hundreds of enemies per level, you unlock new weapons and perk-style upgrades. There are a total of three different weapons to acquire and use per character class, with the first unlocked from the start. The difference between obtainable weapons is mostly damage output, with variances to appearance and rate of fire/attack speed for some of said tools of destruction. The perks that are unlocked are shared between all character classes and range from bonuses like health upgrades, special move recharge time, or melee/ranged damage, and more.
The graphics of Kill Team are decently acceptable for a downloadable PlayStation Network title, but the visual aesthetic grows tired throughout the repetitiously brown/ gray, and grimy looking levels. Each of the five levels takes anywhere from 10 to about 30 minutes to complete, depending on if you want to break every crate in the rather linear levels to find the ten collectables in each stage, which will net you a piece of concept art.
Kill Team is not a difficult game by any means, but can feel a little unbalanced when dealing with ranged enemies who tend to do way more damage than anything else in the game. Enemy fire tends to take into account which direction you’re strafing in, and at what speed, so that it usually meets your character at the end of its trajectory, forcing you to zig-zag through ranged fire. However, getting caught in cross-fire using a melee focused class typically results in a sticky situation that can lead to death, or even worse — frustration.
Throughout the whole game, probably the most underlying problem is the failure in the camera’s ability to follow your character around environments and corners—a problem that is only intensified in co-op, especially when the game encourages you to look around levels for the ten collectables in each stage.
See, as I mentioned, the game doesn’t only feature co-op, it almost relies on it. Sure you can go through it alone, but not only is Kill Team way more fun in cooperative play, but it’s also pretty much designed for it. Everything screams two players, from small cut scenes, narrator dialogue, to even power-up locations and positioning reference your marines (plural).
Overall though, even with its apparent flaws, Kill Team manages to stay a fun ride throughout. The constant sense up unlocking and upgrading makes the already satisfying multiple-thousand-enemy slaughter feel even better. Rounding enemies up and clearing them all at once with a special attack to maximize your multiplier and score adds an extra layer of depth and strategy to the mix. Shredding your way through masses of bad guys has a good feel to it, especially in co-op, which is the crux of Kill Team. You’ll never feel lost or unsure of what to do because of its linearity and simple (and at times monotonous) objectives. But as a $9.99 USD bite-sized PSN game, it’s hard to deny that Kill Team will give you and your co-op partner a fun couple of hours.