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Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine Preview

by on June 13, 2011

Fact: gamers love spilling claret. There is no getting away from it; gunning people down in shooters, ripping out their hearts in beat-em-ups, hacking them to death in action games.

Relic Studios has seen this and, shrewdly, positioned their new Warhammer 40,000 game, Space Marine, as one of the bloodiest titles available this year. How have they done this, you ask?

Simple really! Two words: Chain. Sword.

Space Marine is a slick action game that immediately evokes comparisons to Gears of War, but the more you play it, becomes more of a Gears/Devil May Cry hybrid. Players juggle their ranged weapons (sub-machine guns, plasma rifles and sticky bomb launchers were all available on the build we played) with the vicious chain sword, and the violence and killing is rewarded with health boosts, recharges, and increases in the Fury gauge, which when released allows for explosive melee moves or bullet time ranged combat.

It all combines to give the traditionally uber-nerdy Warhammer universe and arse-kicking, bad-mutha attitude that it is easy to sense when playing. Space Marine was pure angry satisfaction; enemies attack in huge numbers and cutting them down with your guns before savaging the stragglers with the chain-sword’s vicious execution brought big smile to players as well as those watching.

Graphics and animation looked good at this stage, but so close to release there were a couple of animation glitches that snapped the player out of the heat of the battle and jarred against an otherwise polished experience.

The demonstration was too short to really get any sense of the story as yet, but any game set in such a detailed and established universe needs to deliver on this front. We will have to wait until release to find out. On that note, the demonstration level did an excellent job highlighting the blood-thirsty and strategic combat but was noticeably lacking in the sort of set pieces that have marked Mass Effect 3, Tomb Raider and Bioshock Infinite as the stand out games of the show. With those games seemingly raising the bar to heretofore never achieved levels, Space Marine might have a hard job really standing out in the jam-packed Autumn game schedule.

That said…chain-sword, pretty effing cool!

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Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine is set for an August 2011 release, for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.