Preview: Space Marine

We’ve seen plenty of bald space soldiers. Videogames are rife with them, perhaps even more so than the ubiquitous zombie. Yet few of these gruff-voiced heroes can lay claim to a two-decade history and an intricately mapped out universe. But that’s exactly what Relic’s Space Marine offers.

Well, that and a liberal pinch of Gears of War.

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[drop]This is Relic’s attempt to take their expert knowledge of the tabletop Warhammer 40k games, those that birthed the universe surrounding the Space Marines, and cram it all into a crowd-pleasing, multi-platform, third-person shooter. The results are promising.

You are Captain Titus, a hulking great genetically modified Ultra Marine, the most decorated of the Space Marines. Plonked onto an industrial Forge World you must see off the threat of invading Orcs, thousands of whom have swamped the planet. The Forge World is the site of manufacture for much of mankind’s armor and weaponry. As such, it simply cannot be lost.

Thankfully, you’ve got a whole bunch of fearsome weaponry and abilities tucked into your ridiculously oversized armour.

It’s here that Space Marine deviates from the blueprint set out by Gears of War. Yeah, it’s a third-person shooter featuring tree trunk-necked protagonists. Yeah, you carry a Chainsword, the iconic chainsaw weaponry of the Space Marine. And yeah, with a click of a button our clomping hero becomes a 14 year-old Russian gymnast and executes a perfect forward role.

All that is similar, but this time out you won’t be hiding behind cover. Instead, you’ll be rushing headlong into battle, swatting off wave after wave of Orc nasties. Captain Titus don’t do no hiding.

What developers Relic are trying to build is a game where ranged combat flows seamlessly into brutal melee attacks. From pulling off headshots with your Bolt gun, to slicing Orcs in half with your Chainsword – all in one ruthlessly efficient flourish.

[drop2]They’re certainly some of the way there. Both the gunplay and the close combat have a satisfyingly weighty physicality. But you wouldn’t call it seamless, and the the execution animations are a little limited in number. Work is clearly needed.

Still, the build I played was pre-alpha, an early demo that features some sizable bugs and balancing issues. Considering the weight THQ are putting behind the game, you would expect them to be resolved by the time the August release date comes around. I wouldn’t worry just yet.

Elsewhere, it’s solidly executed, familiar stuff. You’ve got a Fury meter that allows you to enter a kind of bullet-time. The environment features the odd red canister to explode. Ammo pickups are rather liberally and handily scattered around the place. There’s a range of weaponry from assault rifles to rocket launchers and sniper rifles – all drawn from Warhammer 40k lore.

These may seem like stale elements, but bundled together in Space Marine it all makes for great fun. Because, sniffiness aside, who gets bored of stomping, blasting and chainsawing their way through hundreds of enemies as a super-power future badass, surrounded by their geysers of their foes’ blood? Not me, not this time. I’m quite looking forward to getting properly stuck in.

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15 Comments

  1. Definitley looks like a winner. Last game I got was Squad Command since Dawn of War Dark Crusade was the only PC game my system could play >_<

  2. after watching the movie i was hopeing they would make a game :)

  3. I don’t know anything about this sort of stuff, but this game looks good

  4. looks like it good, intrigued. (demo please)
    (err what did he call a particular orc at 2.33)

    • sorry :( looks like it *could be good.

  5. sorry can’t get into it. mellow dramatic overdone story elements… looks like a fun game to rent

  6. I predict this game willl sell well on the XBOX360 due to the title of the game :)

  7. Cannot wait for this game, really looking forward to it. Anything that’s 40K is a day one buy for me as it’s never let me down so far (except for Soulstorm, Dark Crusade was miles better than it). Been getting right back into Dark Crusade lately thanks to the Firestorm over Kronus mod so a 40K game on a console will be great for me :)

  8. I once modded a 40K Space Marine with parts from a Titan Legions Titan, utterly pointless and of no use to play with but man did it look cool as……

  9. Loved Fire warrior if this can deliver the same thrills i’m in

  10. Haha they finally went ahead n just named a game Space Marine. Now where is the fabled First Person Shooter.

    • Yeah but these guys are the real deal. They’ve been around since the late eighties!

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