Gamescom 2010: Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine Preview - Ork-some
Written Thursday, August 26, 2010 By Lee AbrahamsView author's profile
The Warhammer 40k universe is one that should be ripe for epic games and amazing stories, though that has not always been the case when you look at the catalogue of games that have been based around the beloved franchise. In recent times though, things have picked up, thanks to the efforts of Relic Entertainment and their superb Dawn of War strategy games.
RTS titles have never quite worked flawlessly on the PlayStation 3 and, with such a rich amount of source material on offer, it was only a matter of time before a fitting game emerged to fill the void.
Enter Space Marine, which is pretty much at the polar opposite end of the spectrum from the RTS genre; this game is less about strategy and more about eviscerating your enemies in an up close and personal manner. Although when you’re a highly armoured, seven foot tall, genetically enhanced super solider, that would probably be your obvious course of action.
The demo on show at this year’s Gamescom in truth was a little raw; plagued with frame-rate issues and dead bodies falling into the scenery, but with this being an early build of the game, we can forgive those flaws for now. The real question is whether or not the game can compete with the big boys. Despite the fact that Warhammer 40k has been around for years, it will probably be unable to shake the copycat tag that comes with a game featuring a well armoured space marine. Not to mention the fact that the combat is more than a little similar to Gears of War, Uncharted et al.
Relic were keen to stress the differences though. They had toyed with the idea of a cover system, but then decided that it was completely out of character for the titular character to hide from anyone. Instead, the tough as nails hero, Captain Titus, would rather face his enemies head on in a blaze of glory. Despite his bulky armour and regenerative health, he is not invincible so quick reactions plus a steady aim are the key to taking down the horde of foes that will assail you. You can also gain new skills with all of the weapons the more you use them, so for example, the Plasma Gun acquires a charge shot ability once you have used it for a while. It means that your favoured weapons can get extremely powerful, and the upgrades are persistent so even if you drop a weapon and pick it up later, you will still have all the upgrades you attained.
The other neat additions include both the special attacks and melee combat, which are available to you in order to cut a swathe through your enemies. Nothing says “Get out of my way!” like a few feet of buzzing chainsword. A touch of the shoulder button takes you into close combat mode pretty seamlessly and you can chain attacks together to decimate whole rooms full of enemies before switching back to your trusty sidearm to finish them off. The idea is an interesting one and the transition is pretty fluid, although how many people would stop firing long enough to engage in some fisticuffs instead, is debatable, that’s why the inclusion of over the top instant kill moves make it worth your while.
The storyline and setting is also looking to draw upon the rich tapestry of Games Workshop ideas. An imperial Forge World, responsible for mass production of weapons, has been overrun by Orks so, as a holding measure, a small group of Space Marines have been sent in to hold up the attack. Obviously a marine is worth hundreds of ordinary men, and coupled with the fact that they will pretty much never fall back means that a mere holding action was never an option. Your goal then is to purge the Ork horde in whatever way you can, though fans may be discouraged to know that none of the other powerful races from the 40k library will be making an appearance during the single player campaign. It is a shame really as the Orks always came across as one of the least interesting races mainly due to the fact they were generally pretty dumb and lacking in any motivation other than beating up on humans. So whether or not we can expect a gripping story will depend on how well the conflict pans out and what kind of set-piece moments will really make the game unique.
Nothing was divulged about the multiplayer modes or co-op elements of the game – though Relic did confirm that both would feature in the final product next year. At the moment the game is looking solid but not spectacular, though with a bit of fine tuning it could well be something special especially for gamers with even the slightest interest in the 40k mythology.
Space Marine is scheduled for a 2011 release.