There is only war…

In the 41st millennium, there is only war.

For years I have heard these words and prepared myself for some of the best gaming experiences of my life. Sure, I may be a little biased; my love of the Warhammer universe is probably the reason I love just about every Games Workshop game that has come out in the last ten years. From Warhammer: Shadow of the Horned Rat on the PS1 to the award winning Dawn of War series, I have played and enjoyed every one.

Games Workshop, the owner of the Warhammer IP has been lending their universe to game developers since the early 90s. The first game that really got me into the whole idea of the universe was the PS1 game Shadow of the Horned Rat. This was a real time strategy title that allowed the player to deploy their forces and command large squads of detailed (at the time) units. Between battles, loses in your units would have to be replaced with gold earned or found during a mission and this, mixed with a branching mission system, made it one of my favorite games as a kid. Don’t get me wrong, it was a tough game, but there is nothing better than having your cavalry charge the rear of an Orc horde, only to have them scatter to the wind. Shadow of the Horned Rat set me up for games like Rome: Total War and Command and Conquer, some of the best strategy titles in the history of gaming.

You could be forgiven for thinking that the whole Warhammer tabletop strategy game could really only translate into a strategy video release. There have, however, been a few more ‘action orientated’ titles built around the IP; Fire Warrior, released in 2003 for the PS2, for example, was a first person shooter in which the player took the role of a Tau warrior – the Tau being a new race released for the tabletop game a few years before. Fire Warrior played like many other FPS titles of the time; sure, it was a little clunky, but what games weren’t way back then.  Unfortunately there have not really been many FPS Warhammer titles since Fire Warrior, but the next few months will see the release of Space Marine, the first third person shooter to use the IP.

Despite the foray into other genres, the Warhammer IP, be it Fantasy or 40K, is a table-top strategy game. Some of the best real time strategy games I have played have been based in the Warhammer lore, from games like Mark of Chaos, to the award winning and, in my opinion, one of the best RTSRPG games ever, Dawn of War 2. With Dawn of War 2, Relic stripped back the classic RTS format; with no more base building or resource collecting and, instead, turned the game into a stunning RPG telling the story of a band of warriors who become the last line of defense against a terrible enemy. The game allowed the player to collect loot and upgrade their squads, while still keeping the cover and combat system from Company of Heroes

Space Marine promises fast paced violence as you blast and cut your way through the Orc horde with bolt gun and power sword. As one of the Emperor’s angels of death, you won’t have to worry about ducking Gears of War style behind waist high walls while the big scary enemy has you pinned down. Equipped with your powered armour, you will simply be able to charge through the cover and whatever hides behind it. From what we have seen so far, the game promises some fantastic combat and cinematic moments that should appeal to players who may not even be fans of the IP.

Looking beyond Space Marine, Vigil games is currently developing Warhammer 40k Dark Millennium, an MMORPG based around the 40k universe. Details are limited for now, but the game promises some next generation gameplay in the MMO genre. Just take a look at the video, there’s a hundred foot titan stomping around. That’s something I’ve not seen before. The question of whether or not it will it be able to compete with games like World of Warcraft, and the soon to be released – hopefully – Star Wars: The Old Republic, will have to be answered later.

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  1. Lee says:

    I had no idea there were that many Warhammer games – I’d heard of Dawn of War but that was it and I just watched a trailer for space marine, looks pretty sweet.

  2. Stu stu says:

    One of my best friends has been a life-long Warhammer 40K fan, he’s dabbled into a few of the other Games Workshop offerings too and was the one responsible for pulling me into the old pen & paper Dungeons and Dragons scene.

    My first brush with W40K was Space Hulk on the PC, many moons ago. I didn’t like it as it was a…let’s say borrowed copy…and I had no manual and couldn’t work out how to get anywhere without being massacred. As I went through the 90′s I drifted out of the table-top scene, irritatingly just before I had a decent starter High Elf army for classic Warhammer amassed and painted. It wasn’t until Dawn of War that I rekindled my love for the genre, despite having still pretty much been playing it via the Warcraft games (but we won’t go into that ;p ).

    Since announcement I’ve been eagerly awaiting the Space Marine game, I have pretty high hopes for it and do date Relic have not disappointed in their offerings, I really hope the trend continues.

  3. Ste says:

    I’ve never really been that into the warhammer games. I was aware that there were so many however I only own the Dawn of War games which I enjoyed alot but never completed. Might have to rectify that oversight when I get time. :)

  4. Chris Toffer says:

    Awesome stuff. I dabbled in a bit of Warhammer 40K when I was younger. The Dawn Of War games have really been the cornerstone of my RTS time since their release. Love them!

  5. Lorna Lorna says:

    I also had no idea that they had managed to port a massively successful tabletop game to the consoles etc. I know that D&D has pretty much been done and now has an online game that is free to play, but wasn’t aware of Warhammer. With the right budget, I imagine some really impressive titles could be made based on that universe. Maybe not something quite like Mass Effect, but there is, surely, so much potential.

  6. Mark Marks says:

    Thanks for the comments folks.

    It is suprising how many games there have been based on the Games Workshop IP’s

    I have only touched on a few of the games in the article. Its one of those British gaming legacies that we should be proud of as British gamers. That a little table top game a couple of guys probably in someones basement made, has spawned a vast amount of titles that are popular all over the world.

    Im really excited about Space Marine and even the 40k MMO, something i know alot of gamers have wanted for a while. In the 40k MMO they are (at least im guessing they will from the video) include things like flying vehicles that you can fly and fight with, 100 foot tall battle mechs, Titans, that you will have to fight around (not sure if you get to pilot them). Stuff that has not been seen since games like Planetside.

    So yeah, more war to come and i’ll be on the front line.


  7. Edward Edward says:

    I played Dawn of War before, but I found it a bit easy because for some reason the games I’ve played with a unit cap are the easiest ones to horde the opponent. I just ended up having such insane amounts of units attacking that by the time the stragglers at the back had got to the intended destination everything was already dead.

    Good read though :)

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