Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine

For any Airfix fans out there who are clueless to such matters: ‘Warhammer’ are small plastic and metal models which you build, paint and then battle with through a selection of complicated dice and movement rules which are carefully outlined in books which, combined, must equal the size of a rather modest forest. ‘Warhammer 40,000’ is part of that series and is set in, unsurprisingly, the year 40,000 AD in a dystopian universe where all out war has broken out. ‘Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine’ is the new video game based on that Universe being released by THQ on September 9th for your entertainment pleasure. Crash course done; now let’s try and focus on the video game aspect and start things off by checking out the official trailer and then talk about some singleplayer goodness, shall we?


You control Titus, a Space Marine and part of the human army, who’s fighting against The Orks, a race of green aliens who appear to be technologically stable but rather lacking in the intellectual department, and The Forces of Chaos, Space Marines who’ve turned evil and somehow gained the ability to summon daemon creatures in from another realm (?). You are then thrust into the… slightly behind the right shoulder perspective, handed your Bolt Gun and sent on your merry way to kill things. I’m not attempting to make the plot-line sound bland or anything, but the preview event consisted of very disjointed sections of the campaign mode so I wouldn’t want to pass any sort of guess work or judgement until the full experience is available.

Hold on, Duncan! I hear the cry of many eleven year old XBox Live gamers out there (who obviously read my words as if they were gospel). Isn’t Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine just copying Gears of War?

Okay? I’ve seen this on The Internet. In magazines. Even at the event people mentioned in hushed whispers if it would be taboo to say it reminded them of it. Warhammer 40,000 started in 1987. Through a tragic tale of woe and lack of forethought this has simply taken Games Workshop a tad too long to make. Thus, Gears of War was able to take A LOT of inspiration from the Warhammer 40K Universe and use it in their own game first. Now, no speaking of this again or I’ll tell your father not to buy you that new 18+ super-gory sexy game you want for your 12th Birthday.

Aim for the brain! (click to enlarge)

First impressions were superb. The controls were solid, the graphics were not going to melt any faces off but they suited the Warhammer setting perfectly and the enemies were filled with smooth, warm red blood which was soon splattered satisfyingly across my LCD screen. It took a while to adjust to the grenade throwing, and almost every gun which didn’t have unlimited ammo drank bullets like an Irishman with an open bar, but it had a very distinct and enjoyable feel to it. There was no cover system in place (take note eleven year olds!) which I really think was a huge boost in Space Marines’ favour. YOU were the cover. You have armour. You have technology. Why would you hide behind a two foot high pile of collapsing bricks? You wouldn’t. You don’t; and I was damn happy about that.

The biggest frustration, for me anyway, turned out to be the difficulty curve. The fact that if you are able to stun an enemy, and then pull off a Quick Time Event grapple manoeuvre (which looked beautifully brutal, by the way) then surrounding enemies can still hit you throughout the sequence. I can understand the logic, but a lot of the time you’re surrounded by a good five to ten enemies and pulling off these grapple moves is the only way to regenerate health so a lot of the time you can end up losing more than you’ve gained (especially on Hard. Dear. Lord!). It never became in tense, as in, I never felt the compulsion to throw the controller on the floor and slap every person in the face on my way out, but after dying for the 18th time trying to complete a level the QTE death did start to become a rather large annoyance to me and my mental health.

Other than that I’m left with nothing but positive things left to say about the campaign. The melee combat is perfectly implemented so flipping between running and gunning and axing your enemies into chopped Ork liver was never simpler. The three flavours of melee weapons (Chainsaw, Axe, and Hammer) were each balanced and had a real sense of weight behind them with each swing – my favourite being the hammer because not only was it powerful as all Hell, but it gave me a rather confidence boosting Thor vibe.

I really wish there was more to say but due to the limited preview laid out before me I must move on to multiplayer for the time being (but be sure to tune in to Ready Up on September 6th for our FULL REVIEW of the game! WINK!).

… Directed by MICHAEL BAY! EXPLOSIONS! BOOM! KABLAM! (click to enlarge)

UNHOLY SUPREME CUSTOMISATION BATMAN! So. Many. Options. We’ve all seen the classes/customisation multiplayer trailer, so the first thing I (along with everyone else in the room) did was leap into that glorious world filled with mismatched arm armour and bright pink chainsaws. Eventually of course it all boils down to just changing what your armour looks like and the various colours but it was so terribly addictive! We had one marine who had gone on a mission to try and fit as many difficult colours onto his armour as possible (I named him Skittles…), we had a bright pink power ranger (in fact, several) and I was kitted out in full on lime green Chaos Marine gear (I got nicknamed ‘The Hulk’, which pleased me greatly). There was way too much enjoyment taken from the customisation, is what I’m saying. The PR team actually had to wrangle us all into the lobby to get the game started.

We were treated to two multiplayer maps; ‘Annihilation’, a simple team-on-team deathmatch with a highscore of 41 kills, and ‘Seize Ground’, a King of the Hill style mode where we needed to gain and maintain the majority of the three (or four, depending on the map) control points. If I were to choose a straight out favourite I’d say it’d be Annihilation because grenade spam makes my skin itch. You’re equipped with custom loadouts, various perks available, and you can have JUMPPACKS! Not jetpacks, as it was pointed out to me on Twitter by Spinex, but jumppacks, and they’re AWESOME. They’re as irritating as a crying baby who just crapped himself in a Ford Focus when you’re against them, but when you’re one of them it is time to get your jump on!

Seriously; AWESOME! (click to enlarge)

There’s even a levelling system (circa Call of Duty and many others) which will keep you crawling towards that almighty Level 41. The brief glimpse I got of the multiplayer did show that perhaps the levelling system wouldn’t be the only thing to keep you hooked. I was actually impressed at the spawning system, which let you set either default, a capture point, or a fellow teammate as your spawn location, and the hectic class-based action did lead to quite a lot of tense moments fending off a wave of jumppack using pink power rangers while you frantically spammed the grenade button and prayed they didn’t get within melee range.

The true test of the multiplayer though won’t come through until the full version is released. What I experienced was a jolly, good-natured LAN party between games journalists who were sat two feet away from each other. Even I felt wary camping in a set spot for too long or trying to hip-fire a sniper rifle. Without a mini-map or a killcam there does seem to be a system which is ripe for abuse once it hits the online realm. I hope I’m wrong and that the experience I got with the multiplayer is the way the final product ends up, because it was good! Really good. The lack of cover system and carefully balanced maps actually got me enjoying this multiplayer more than Gears of War (you know, that game this one ISN’T ripping off?) and I’m pretty sure that’s a sentence that will likely get me beaten to death if Laura ever ends up reading this far into my article.

That's some HOT Marine on Marine action. (click to enlarge)

To go for a quick, snappy summary I would say the hype Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine has going for it so far is not unjustified. If you’re already a Warhammer fan then rest assured that your pre-order receipt is definitely a worthy investment. Otherwise, start getting excited! Download the demo on your respective platform, check out our review (which is released on the 6th! Mark it down!) and start looking for a good launch day pre-order because this one looks like it’s turning out to be one bloody good party.







2 responses to “Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine”

  1. rob avatar

    enjoyed the demo on ps3 the orks were quite overwhelming at times but i’m impressed enough to justify pre ordering the full game, i just hope that in the future the more frightening gene stealers will make a comeback.

  2. Laura avatar

    I like how you assume I have any loyalty at all. More fun than Gears you say? Sold!

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