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Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine Preview
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 05:36pm 28/04/11 | Comments
At last year's Tokyo Game Show, AusGamers caught a glimpse of Relic's forthcoming Warhammer 40K: Space Marine and weren't too impressed. Since then, however, the team have been hard at work addressing criticisms and the game has definitely come a long way. Read on for our full thoughts...

It’s interesting that it’s taken this long for Games Workshop to greenlight or push for an action iteration of their expanded Warhammer universe; taking the table-top figurines or detailed RTS representations of their much-loved goodies, baddies and all those in between into third-person space. But they have and it’s coming in thick and fast, much like the armour of the Space Marines found within. Well, thick yes, fast... maybe not so much.

Actually that last point was one of contention among myself and Dan when we saw the game out at TGS last year. Space Marine was pitched to us as something of a Gears of War, only with walking cover, so no cover-mechanic at all. And on paper, this sounded good, but the presentation was slow and we just weren’t sold on the pacing at the time.

Since then, I’ve actually had my own mitts on a playable version, and walked away pleasantly surprised. The action has been ramped up with slightly more complex combat, better combos and an overall boost in speed. It still looks like a no-brain-needed action affair; something to sink into after a hard day at work or school, or with a few friends and beers. And it’s the action stuff I really had fun play with during my hands-on. There’s a greater rhythm to stringing together combos, and it reminded me a lot of Darksiders sword-play in this area.

Myriad enemy types will feature specific attacks to break their block, or their own chain, however, a Fury Meter you build up through successful combos, etc, can equally help you unleash your own powerful finishers, and the game does not skimp on the colour of these; painting the town red has never been so much fun. You can also utilise your Fury drain for abilities like bullet-time, which allows for more precision aim if you’re in dire need of taking out camping Orks, of which the team at Relic have planted many.

Unlike Gears of War, Space Marine takes the up-close-and-personal melee stuff to new heights, while never relinquishing on ranged fire-power, either. This creates an interesting dynamic in a game otherwise about slaughtering hordes of baddies, in that you can really craft your own play-style and, theoretically, get more out of it with replayability as a result. It’s not something I dived into headlong while speaking with my demo chaperon, but there was definitely an air of multiple play-throughs riddled across what I played and saw.

For the hardcore fans out there though, please take none of the above as word there’s nothing meaty for you here, because there’s a fairly extensive story that not only includes Space Marines (the main character, Titus, is voiced by Mark Strong of Kick-Ass and Rock ‘n Rolla fame) and Orks, but also Chaos and many, many more shenanigans - all approved by Games Workshop as official Warhammer 40K canon.

Moreover, there will be a Paint component that will let you play around, on-screen, with a fully 3D avatar as you would a table-top figurine. It’s an addition added solely for the Painter crowd out there, but also adds a cool level of customisation for the rest of the non-figure painting audience who will obviously pick this one up as well.

There are other cool components for the nerdier Warhammer fans out there, such as the inclusion of certain weapons that have never been represented outside of sheer words before. An example we saw was a Grenade Launcher we’d been told is part of the series’ lore, but has never seen the light of day and that the game would feature more hardcore Easter-Egg type stuff like this for the observant folks.

Visually the game has come a long way from what we saw last year as well, with everything running off Vigil’s Darksiders game-engine. There’s a bit of an art parallel between the two games, but that was to be expected based on how the Warhammer characters have been represented over the years anyway (and makes us more confident in Vigil’s current handling of the next Warhammer MMO project). Lighting is much improved, as are animation trees, and hit-detection overall. As mentioned earlier the team have not skimped on the gore, but given its more bright presentation (again, think Darksiders), we can’t really foresee any problems with the Ratings Board here in Australia.

I was also told the game is going to be aggressively supported post-release with “robust DLC” that they were obviously too reluctant to overtly get into. But there was a hint at certain DLC packs being added to this model to “appease fanboys”, which I’ll take as a “if you build it, he will come” angle. So fanboys, listen up, if you like the game when you get it, be sure to tell the team what it lacked or what you’d like to see down the track, because we have it on good authority they’ll likely listen.

Finally, there is definitely going to be a day and date release for the game on PC, and it was hinted at we’d be seeing a little more love on the PC to take advantage of its deeper feature-set, though nothing beyond “wait and see”. It will definitely look better, and is being handled internally, so no outsourcing here, which hopefully means a tighter, more consistent vision for that platform overall.

There’s not much more to say though. By and large, this is definitely a hard-slog action beat-em-up with lots of guns, lots of melee and lots to kill. The combat has evolved to offer up more depth, which is very welcome, it will sate fans with an original and engaging story worthy of the franchise’s canon and is well and truly worth getting excited for. At this stage, provided the team maintain the course they’re on, we’re reasonably happy.

To be fair, it’s not a game-changing entry in the action genre, but it’s not meant to be. Instead, so far, it’s immensely satisfying in the amount of power you wield, the depth of combos and use of your Fury Meter, and the various enemies on-hand to kill. Bring on Titus and co.

Latest Comments
Posted 06:41pm 28/4/11
Great write up, I can see my brother playing this constantly! Also great work on all the news guys!
Posted 09:24pm 28/4/11
Looks fairly decent, definitely on the list of games to look out for.
Posted 03:26pm 03/9/11
Pre ordered and pre downloaded :)
Posted 03:42pm 03/9/11
I wonder what the multiplayer is like, seems like it would lend itself really well to a co-op style horde mode like Gears has
Posted 05:09pm 03/9/11
I wonder what the multiplayer is like, seems like it would lend itself really well to a co-op style horde mode like Gears has

Its like this (team vs team death match, ctf, assault etc):
Siege Ground:


And here's customisation:
Posted 02:58pm 05/9/11
What version is everyone getting?
Posted 03:29pm 05/9/11
I'm getting it on 360
Posted 03:36pm 05/9/11
I'll probably get it on PC and play with my 360 controller.
Posted 03:49pm 05/9/11
I'll probably get it on PC and play with my 360 controller.

Yeah ill be getting pc version, but I have tried using the onza controller I have and found it difficult.
Posted 04:26pm 05/9/11
tossing up pc or ps3

possibly ps3
Posted 04:28pm 05/9/11
I'm going ps3 methinks, the demo played really well on a controller and I think I'll prefer the big screen :D
Posted 05:52pm 05/9/11
since you can use a gamepad on pc the pc is obviously superior since it has better graphics and modding (which is only cosmetic at this stage) the only downside is that p2p multi usually dies faster on pc than console.
Posted 07:42pm 05/9/11
The only thing that tempts me to get console versions anymore is the fact that I can sit on my couch. I have a pretty big monitor, which I obviously sit closer to, so I get about the same amount of my vision filled, except it's higher res, higher framerate, better effects, cheaper, and more choice with controller input. If I could easily stream my PC output to the lounge room, I'd only ever use my consoles for exclusives.
Posted 09:17pm 05/9/11
The only thing that tempts me to get console versions anymore is the fact that I can sit on my couch. I have a pretty big monitor, which I obviously sit closer to, so I get about the same amount of my vision filled, except it's higher res, higher framerate, better effects, cheaper, and more choice with controller input. If I could easily stream my PC output to the lounge room, I'd only ever use my consoles for exclusives.

Really long hdmi cable with wireless keyboard/mouse?



THQ and Relic have announced the first DLC pack for Space Marine entitled Exterminatus. The pack, which will be free to all who own the game, brings a new mode to the title which features two distinct scenarios that allow up to four players to play cooperatively. Players will group up with friends and take on swarm after swarm of orkish enemies.
Posted 10:10pm 05/9/11
F*** yeah. And its free too, thats what I like to hear!

Still hoping some of the DLC includes Grey Knights. I guess you could probably make them using the ingame customisation thing, but I'd love to see some proper Grey Knight stuff added, I want to stomp some heads as a Nemesis Dreadknight!
Posted 10:20pm 05/9/11
i'd like to see some dark angel's story in there, they are badass
Posted 11:09pm 06/9/11
Unlocked early with a VPN because f*** THQ for staggering the release and screwing us on pricing so here is a mini what I think type deal:

So far sp is fantastic. I am about half way into the game going off chapters and so far relic have perfectly paced and itemised the game so that you are constantly rewarded with new toys, which generally add a mechanic that helps in that next section of the game, which basically hides the tutorial aspect of it all.

In retrospect the demo was perfect because it only gave a taste of the basic gameplay. The thing that is really making the game stay fresh is the variety of environments they have managed to incorporate - so that you never stop looking around at the epic scale buildings - and frequent awesome set pieces. Best of all, they have managed to quite successfully exploit the 40K IP to really jack up the atmosphere way beyond the usual action game tropes where you get pulled out of your fictional goal and fall into the boredom of go here and kill things till you can grab item x etc. Part of this is how completely badass space marines are and how well they sell that, even in the way enemy and friendly npcs react to you.

I was slightly worried that the basic combo system (beyond basic frankly) would grow old quickly but instead of making a complex combo system in the Japanese style, they have made everything in the game feel absolutely epic so that you dont care that you only had to press mouse1 mouse1 mouse2 because you just f***en destroyed so many guys with such visceral awesomeness that you never really get bored of pressing the same short combo over a few times. That is also aided by the brilliant ranged weapons which so far haven't felt like an afterthought but an integral part of the game and at times almost as epic as tearing an orcs jaw off with your hands.

The other thing that I am actually enjoying quite a bit is how they have balanced difficulty. I am playing on hard so that is all I can comment on but from what I have seen you can get absolutely gibbed if you f*** up but can also smash through a section with virtually no trouble if you do it right. So to me it always feels like skill/tiny bit of thought overcomes obstacles rather than it just being about luck or exploiting something that often games use to increase difficulty.

You are never forced to play in a boring manor to get past something difficult. - eg. maybe some shooty fellas are killing you while you throw yourself into melee. So you roll out of melee, chuck a grenade to give yourself some time then snipe out a couple ranged guys and get back into the power axing of heads... as opposed to many games where you would have to sit back hiding while you slowly pick off enemies as you pop in and out of cover while you run from melee enemies.

From what I have read multi is surprisingly fun so I am looking forward to sinking my teeth into that.
Posted 10:55pm 06/9/11
I still don't get it, so it's all third person perspective? Is this the first time they've done this for a 40K universe game, AFAIK all the other games were RTS perspective? I'm not sure if I should get it or not.
Posted 11:38pm 06/9/11
Its the first time relic have and certainly nobody has ever made an actiony 40k game this good, I know ive read about some terrible fps that was made by someone a fair while ago. The 40k part of the game really shines through and it proves yet again how valuable relic realise the ip is. The gameplay part, while fun, is nothing new and amazing but very few games nail the non gameplay elements of a game as well as relic have.

Here is an example: http://i.imgur.com/Gw17b.jpg - objective requires you to move around an absolutely massive building, which is actually a giant cannon in order to make sure a certain shell is loaded into it. So not only are you following the progress of this shell that dwarves the already giant space marines, which dwarf the imperial guardsman, but the whole inside of the building is loading conveyors and storage areas etc etc that really sell the idea that you are in a big ass cannon with all the inner workings exposed including the gun firing and shacking s*** loose all the time.

They have also announced free DLC (for october?) which will add an online coop mode so the game should have quite good longevity.

I really can't overstate how awesome!!!! everything about the game is. Its not often that developer hype videos turn out to be what they really were aiming for and even rarer still what they achieved but if you go back and watch some of those trailers, knowing that most of it really is what they have done then I think youll be sold on the game.
Posted 11:22pm 06/9/11
what is there to get? It's a third person beat em up style game, not an rts like all the other ones, end of story.

Fire Warrior was the fps your thinking of qmass, was on xbox (maybe ps2 and pc?) and failed big time.
Posted 11:21pm 06/9/11
I nearly bought it earlier tonight for a ridiculously low, Russian CD key price but wasn't sure about the whole 3rd person aspect of the game. I did buy Dead Island for about $20, though. Will think on it.
Posted 11:31pm 06/9/11
stop being such a f*****g sam and buy it already. I know exactly what you are thinking about when you keep saying 3rd person but its nothing like that f**gy xbox 3rd person whack a mole cover shooter. THERE IS NO COVER AND YOU DIE IF YOU TRY AND HIDE BEHIND A BOX SHOOTING THINGS. The game rewards you for trying to RP a space marine, in fact they have somehow managed to incorporate a system where by you do more damage if you scream out classic space marine slogans :P

In fact it reminds me of max payne in the way that it breaks from genre traditions just enough and exploits its story and atmosphere in order to make the game stand out from the pack.
The GuVna
Posted 12:44am 07/9/11
Cool, looking forward to this as the demo showed alot of potential in the game play, plus it really did look like Dawn Of War in 3rd person (that's a good thing)

I'm getting it through work as it's cheaper, but if you did get it on steam, definitely play through your free copy of Darksiders. I bought it for $5 ages ago on a steam sale & started playing it last week, very well made game.
Posted 06:46am 07/9/11
cant waaaaaaaait 1 more day!
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