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A Space Marine Is You

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Once you put that helmet on, YOU. ARE. DOOMGUY.

"Doom introduced the grizzled space marine to the gaming world 15 years ago, dreamed into existence by someone at Id Software, probably just minutes after watching Aliens. The grizzled space marine character so captivated the imagination of first-person shooter fans that they decided to have him star in every single FPS game since."

A form of Cliché Storm for video games.

The prerequisites for this are:

  1. The game is a First or Third-Person Shooter.
  2. The game is Military Science Fiction themed.
  3. The protagonist is a member of the military.

If your game has the above, your plot will have a certain number of these cliches

Much of the above comes from the tendency to rip-off take inspiration from Aliens and Doom (which, in turn, are heavily inspired by Starship Troopers) along with sheer They Fight Crime!-level parallel evolution. Just remember that this isn't necessarily bad or good, though, and that the cliches can be excused if the various rules are applied, especially Sci-Fi Awesomeness, and just Plain Old Fun. However, when worse comes to worst, there is also one of the ultimate rules: It's just a game.


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     Action Adventure  

  • Advent Rising starts with the generic military elite Gideon's entire homeplanet destroyed by Scary Dogmatic Aliens, after which he proceeds to gain lots of superpowers, kick much ass, and save the day. The twist in this case is that for the finale, you get to fight the person whom you chose not to save at the beginning of the game. To his defense, Gideon often speaks and he is not bald.

     First Person Shooter  

  • The Colony is an Ur-Example. You are a Silent Protagonist Space Marshal responding to a distress call from a remote outpost. On approaching the planet your ship is damaged and you crash land. You don your Powered Armor and make your way to the entrance of the underground base, which you find has been overrun by aliens who appeared out of nowhere; you must penetrate to the depths of the base and out again to escape the planet alive.
  • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes features a squad of Space Marines landing on the planet Aether who are quickly slaughtered by the local indigenous extradimensional bug monsters. Reading the dead troopers' logs reveal that they conformed as closely to the stereotype as they possibly could. Did we mention that Aliens was a huge influence on the Metroid series?
  • Metroid Prime 3: Corruption contains most of the clichés in the description. The Federation military comes into their own, troopers alternate between seriously kicking ass and dying horribly.
  • The Doom series:
    • The original games were the Trope Maker. You play as a silent Space Marine who was deployed with his squad to a space base over Mars which was attacked in orbit. Everyone else in said squad dies before the game even starts, which (according to the manual) you hear over your radio. And your enemies are demons who appeared out of nowhere in a space base. That's seven of the tropes right there. It also established the chainsaw, high-energy weapon, shotgun, and rocket launcher as standard Space Marine armaments. The similarities to Aliens are to be expected, because the game was originally supposed to be based on Aliens until id Software gave up on the idea because of 20th Century Fox's strict licensing demands, and the game was re-imagined as a mix between Aliens and Evil Dead (That didn't stop experienced modders from doing Aliens-themed mods - Aliens T.C. was the most famous one, being rather impressive in its own right).
    • Likewise, you play as a Space Marine in Doom³, albeit a different one from the last two games. He's only ever addressed as "Marine" by the NPCs, and he's just as silent as the rest. The player character in Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil is a different marine as well, except he's on engineering duty.
    • The DOOM (2016) incarnation actually doesn't fit the trope that well. While the Doom Slayer used to be a part of an elite fighting group known as the 'Night Sentinels', that's all in the past and superceded by his current Seraphim-empowered hatred of all things demonic - he doesn't kill demons because they're invading, he kills demons because they're demons. He's never referred to as a Space Marine, isn't sent into a combat zone in the beginning (the combat zone comes to him), and while he is talked to through a radio, he's not so much given orders as he is suggestions. There's no midgame twist, no Load-Bearing Boss, no timed escape after killing the final boss, and he prefers the double-barrelled shotgun over a machinegun.
    • DOOM Eternal reveals that the Slayer was an example of this trope — because he is the Space Marine from the original games.
  • Most sci-fi shooters from the late 2000s are space marine themed. At E3 2010, many reviewers lamented how almost the entire lineup for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC consisted of space marine FPS's.
  • The Halo series. While the Chief speaks (occasionally) during cutscenes, is technically a Naval NCO (Master Chief Petty Officer, to be precise), and has short hair (according to the novels), the games hit most of other aspects of this trope, with the most notable exceptions being the general lack of a Final Boss and the fact that most players prefer to discard their assault rifle and use the pistols and semiautomatic rifles as their primary weapons instead (despite what the cutscenes and advertising would have you believe).
    • In Halo 4, much more emphasis is been put on the Chief's personality, with him speaking even during gameplay.
    • You play as 5 different characters in Halo 3: ODST, but they're relatively well-characterized (Bungie certainly wasn't going to waste the voice talents of Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk, Adam Baldwin, and Nolan North, after all), with only the Rookie remaining a blank slate, mostly due to the fact that he never takes off his helmet and has zero lines of dialogue. Also, unlike most examples of the genre, the entire squad survives.
    • Halo: Reach plays it mostly straight, but protagonist Noble Six is a Naval Lieutenant.
    • Halo 2 also steers a little away from the trope with the Arbiter, a disgraced Elite Supreme Commander who in the first game was the guy commanding the very same aliens attempting to kill you.
  • Bungie's previous game Marathon also fits the bill fairly well (technically, the player takes the role of a security officer rather than a marine, but he's often called "The Marine" by fans anyway.) The protagonist is a faceless soldier with a bunch of guns who fights off aliens from a spaceship at the command of a group of A.I.s. He is also almost certainly the missing 10th supersoldier on board. However the trope is played with: you are a cyborg machine who will fulfill orders given by the terminals, no matter who gives the orders or what they entail.
    • This trope is cited by name in the Game Mod Phoenix, in which it's the name of the first real level.
  • The 2005 version of Area 51 (with David Duchovny). Although the player is a 'mission specialist' rather than a new grunt the difference is almost purely semantic and the rest of the trope fits like a glove.
  • Quake II and 4. Both games hit every single bullet point above with a straight face. (bar a loaded boss for Quake 4)
  • Haze was an attempt at a Deconstruction of this trope, thwarted by Executive Meddling among others.
  • Crysis, sort of. Nomad is an ordinary Earth Marine, but still fills a good number of the cliches. Surprisingly, he has both a voice and an officer rank.
    • Crysis 2 plays it even straighter, for thematic purposes.
    • Crysis 3 on the other hand doesn't fit a large chunk of these characteristics. Prophet is no longer in the U.S. military, he has a lot of dialogue, undergoes Character Development throughout the game, spends only about half the game listening to a Voice with an Internet Connection before deciding he can get more things done if he acts on his own, and his primary weapon is a compound bow despite being the only person in the world who can use Ceph weaponry. Oh, and he's not wearing Powered Armor, he is the Powered Armor!
  • Half-Life:
    • The Opposing Force expansion has you as a normal Marine, rather than the space kind, but otherwise plays by the rulebook.
    • Half-Life itself was a break from the trope. Half-Life 2 re-embraced this trope even tighter by making Gordon into a dimensional mercenary/freedom fighter, albeit not exactly by choice.
    • The Half-Life mod "Natural Selection" embraces this trope; one team plays space marines, the other, an invading alien species.
  • The Aliens vs. Predator (2010) Marine campaigns. Well, obviously.
  • TimeSplitters: Future Perfect falls into this category quite neatly also. The protagonist is bald, an elite trooper, lands on a hot zone with a lot more people that either die or for whatever reason don't go on for the rest of the game... one by one, it fills all the conditions. The TimeSplitters series is largely a parody of other first person shooters and video games in general, so this was likely done on purpose. For further proof, the baldy space marine protagonist is a Large Ham with a corny catchphrase, other characters are frequently weirded out by him, and the first mission of the game after the stereotypical Aliens-esque tutorial involves him time-travelling to 1912 and going through what may as well be a level from a stereotypical World War II shooter (time period notwithstanding).
    • Its predecessor, TimeSplitters 2, Zig-Zags this trope, as the game starts with aforementioned baldy space marine infiltrating a space station with a female partner and a Voice with an Internet Connection while fighting off alien monsters. But then he jumps into a time machine and spends the majority of the story possessing multiple characters during different time periods, a la Quantum Leap, and fighting a wide variety of enemies (standout player characters being a zombie-hunting female harlequin, a black cowboy, and a Fembot cosplaying as red riding hood). He returns to the space station at the end of the game, whereupon the trope returns with a vengeance as his partner is killed and he must escape before the station self-destructs.
    • Meanwhile, the original TimeSplitters was an aversion. The baldy space marine wasn't even introduced until the sequel; the first game's 'plot' instead consisted of a number of mostly-unrelated missions to acquire various MacGuffins, and again, had you playing as different characters in different time periods (and the one bald character is a criminal from the year 2000).
  • TimeShift substitutes a military organization with a research organization owned by and infiltrated by the military, and IN SPACE! with In Steampunk Past, but obeys the remainder of the recipe. Rather oddly for the trope, you end up preventing all of the cutscene and first act deaths. Oh, and the main character might be the female researcher who gets blown up in the opening cutscene.
  • Gunman Chronicles flirts with this trope, but ultimately manages to have its own style by having all the characters dress like 19th century Civil War soldiers.
  • Unreal II: The Awakening was like this, which resulted in numerous complaints by fans of the original game who felt the developers had traded in the unique atmosphere of the first Unreal for a generic Space Marine storyline. Granted, Dalton and crew were given great characterisation that was a total aversion of the usual cliches, but the rest of the storyline and game design were pretty much 100% A Space Marine Is You.
    • Unreal Tournament 2003 also took some flak for for generic-looking Space Marine character designs.
    • Unreal Tournament III took everything from this trope and stuffed it right in. (With a handwave to explain why an eerily straight A Space Marine Is You game still plays like the earlier tournaments)
  • The 2008 reboot of Turok, to such a degree that Zero Punctuation spent the entire review ripping the game for it.
    • Also, Armorines another comic-licensed Acclaim FPS using the engine.
  • Star Wars: Republic Commando is such a straight example that it might even be a purposeful lampshading, given that the player characters are literally clones.
    • It does however avert many other criteria. The player character "Boss" is very talkative (voiced by none other than Temuera Morrison) even when he ends up on his own, he is addressed as "sir" and giving The Squad commands is what the game is all about.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior. The best way to sum it up is: "Fire Warrior" is just how the Tau say "Space Marine". Make that tiny adjustment, and the trope fits like a glove from A to Z.
    • Amusingly, the game actually titled Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, where you play as an actual Space Marine, doesn't fit the trope. The Player Character is much too talkative.
  • Substitute "megacorporation" for "space station" and you pretty much have the first F.E.A.R. game, down to The Reveal: You're Alma's son. Well, one of them.

     Platform Game  

  • Samus Aran of Metroid fame ticks some of the boxes. She is the lone survivor of a planet overrun by Space Pirates, taken in and given her ultra-modular battlesuit by the Chozo, and is a Heroic Mime, leading her to have very little personality of her own. However, while Samus used to be part of the Federation Army, she now operates as a bounty hunter. She's also a woman.
    • The manga shows that Samus served in a Galactic Federation Police unit before becoming a bounty hunter.
  • The Mummy Demastered, a video game tie-in for the less-than-successful The Mummy (2017), has you play as a generic masked soldier of the task force Prodigium who's mission is to face such supernatural threats rather than any characters from the film (in part because Tom Cruise has always prohibited use of his likeness in video games). This allowed for the game's unique death mechanic, where death was permanent and you took control of a new soldier who had to hunt down and find the former, now zombified, soldier and kill it to recover the weapons and gear the player had amassed with the previous soldier.

     Real Time Strategy  

  • StarCraft (despite being a strategy game) has Raynor (siding with the good aliens) and Kerrigan (forcibly changed into an evil alien) fit the bill close enough. Pretty much all the Terran units follow this trope, right down to the dropship pilots quoting Aliens when you click on them.
  • Dawn of War has you take control of (though not always) the Blood Ravens Chapter as they embark on their newest campaign.

     Role Playing Game  

     Shoot Em Up  

     Third Person Shooter  

  • The first few opening bullets described Fracture almost perfectly. No actual space stuff is involved, but its a sci-fi game nonetheless.
  • The entire point of Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard is becoming the Deconstructor Fleet for such games, the main character being a parody of shooter protagonists.
  • Gears of War and Gears of War 2: you are veteran marine Marcus Fenix, a guy with little personality and no emotions. He wears trademark bulky armor, isn't afraid of anything, and most of his lines consist of less than five words. Those words are usually swears.. He has some backstory (something about his dad) but usually he's just mowing down Locust and not giving a damn.
  • The Silencer from the Crusader series of games is a textbook example, right down to the zero personality. However, in the intro for the original Crusader: No Remorse, we see the two other members of The Silencer's original squad - right before they're gunned down by their Bad Boss - and they've definitely got personality, arguing loudly about the morality of their recent refusal to gun down unarmed civilians on orders. The Silencer, however, didn't participate in the argument, remaining voiceless even then, so his bland personality might well be a character trait.
  • Dead Space plays all elements of the trope but the key one - your character is not military personnel himself, just a simple civilian engineer who was assigned to a squad of proper space marines.
    • Ironically, a group of Space Marines do show up late in the game, but are almost immediately all utterly pwnt by the Necromorphs, possibly due to their "Rambo-ing out" mentality. Or because the plot says so.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine puts it right there in the title. Though the game does put its own spin on it. The player character is not a zero-initiative macho grunt soldier but a soft-spoken, Father to His Men, Authority Equals Asskicking Captain, all of your squadmates survive the initial landing, and the gameplay works hard to avoid Real Is Brown and Take Cover! (tagline: "Cover is for the weak."). On the other hand, the story itself has been deemed cliche even by the Warhammer 40,000 fanbase, revolving around a MacGuffin, a token "shocking revelation" about the protagonist, and a demonic invasion that was given away in the trailer.
  • Earth Defense Force 5: The player characters are grunts and new recruits in the EDF caught in the middle of a hostile alien invasion that kicks off by directly attacking the EDF's bases and underground facilities. The players wind up almost singlehandedly defeating the hordes of alien enemies along the way.
  • ‘’Aliens Fireteam Elite’’ places you in the shoes of a Colonial Marine, with the assistance of either two other players. Other then that, it aggressively sticks to the checklist.

Non-Video Game Examples


    Tabletop Games 
  • Deathwatch is a RPG that has you playing as the legendary Space Marines from Warhammer 40,000, part of the eponymous Deathwatch, an indepedent special forces group that is supposed to be the elite of the Space Marines tasked with defending humanity from alien horrors. The players can choose between many Space Marine specialities available, such as Devastator (heavy weapons), Assault (close-quarters-combat), Tactical (generalists), Librarian (Psychic Powers), Apothecary (Combat Medic), among many others, and to accompany your badass space marines, you also have a huge arsenal composed by various big and mean guns, such as bolters, plasma weapons, rocket launchers, Chainswords, Power Fist, various models of Power Armor, etc. The game is noted to be more combat-heavy and tactical compared to other games in the Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay line like Dark Heresy or Rogue Trader.
  • Alien
    • ‘’Alien: The Roleplaying Game’’ has the original Colonial Marines as a playable group in the core rules. An expansion, ‘’The Colonial Marines Operations Manual’’, adds further options for running a campaign using the marines, while ‘’Destroyer of Worlds’’ is a high lethality “Cinematic Module” that focuses on the Marines investigating a colony that has gone dark.
    • ‘’Aliens: Bug Hunt’’ is a board game putting the players in the shoes of the cast of Aliens
  • ‘’Slipgate Chokepoint’’ is a loving homage to ‘’Quake’’ using a modified version of The Black Hack.