Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine – E3 Preview

There’s been a running joke that the shooter genre has become saturated with the various types of marines from space, so when Relic announced Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine it certainly caused a few smiles, for irony’s sake at least. Stepping into the E3 booth of THQ, who are publishing the title, I find myself dodging out of the way of two life size Space Marines and into an actual drop pod to take the newest instalment in the Warhammer franchise for a spin.

Jumping into Space Marine, the first thing you’ll notice is the movement of your character, Captain Titus, and if you’re used to the run and gun style gameplay most modern shooters seem to practice, then you’ll experience the equivalent of running head first into a brick wall. That’s not to say that Space Marine isn’t fast paced, because it is, but what you can expect is a slightly cumbersome character which, when you look at it, has got ten tons of armour strapped to his back, so having jump around like some sort of Unreal Tournament player just wouldn’t fit.

Pace aside, there’s just something about the movement that is really striking, with the best way to describe it being that it’s very Warhammer, from how it feels to the way it looks – not forgetting the audio – all of which go a long way to establishing that your character is a Space Marine. The game’s better off for it – it has identity.

Death from above!

The level on display featured combat against some Orks, and was your simple ‘A to B’ affair with nothing too exciting occurring; it was simply a case of making your way to the end of the level, obliterating any green skin that happened to cross your path. Refreshingly, Orks behave in much the way you’d expect them to: charging at you in numbers while the big bastards sit at the back shooting the shit out of you with a large gun… all while their smaller brethren put some space between you both. Combat was extremely fluid and the ability to swap and change from ranged to melee was not only seamless, but such good fun that you’ll end up (if you’re anything like me, anyway) wanting to try it again and again. Cutting down waves of Orks and then finishing up the remaining few with a couple of sweeps of a chain sword is something you could do time after time, and likely will, because at the end of the day, if there’s an Ork to decapitate, it may as well be you that does it. It’s brutal, gory and a whole lot of fun.

The melee-ranged weapon hybrid combat system is at the core of the title and from it spurts gameplay that, in a nutshell, is exceptionally good fun. The melee did feel slightly sluggish which detracted slightly from the enjoyment, but with a fair bit of development time still left before its September release, one can hope that by then any niggling issues are ironed out.

Graphically the game will slip into this generation without much to complain about. It’s not to say that it’s a bad looking game – it’s not – but likewise it won’t be pushing the boundaries of what the current level of technology is capable of achieving. That said, the game itself does have a number of elements which really add to the atmospheric feeling. Taking the level on display as an example, which was set in a factory/industrial style area, all the standard features were in place, with crates and shipping containers aplenty.

It’s the decoration, the little touches which really help the game to stand out, and as long as these continue throughout its entirety then I don’t believe there’ll be anything to worry about in the graphics department. It’s pretty much ‘does as it says on the tin stuff’; job done if you will.

Perhaps the greatest accomplishment for Space Marine is that it is very much a Warhammer game, with the trademarks of the franchise seeming deeply embedded. This should come as no surprise, as the developers, Relic Entertainment, have vast amounts of experience within the Warhammer 40,000 universe, with the Dawn of War series achieving critical acclaim worldwide. Everything from the animations to the audio just screams Warhammer and it’s at this point that I realised that Space Marine could be the real deal; that it may be something just different enough to stand out in one of the most competitive genres the industry has to offer.

Fans of Warhammer will hopefully be ecstatic, but from the evidence shown there is no reason why it can’t appeal to gamers who have yet to sample the delights of the Emperor’s finest. It may be just another shooter with marines from space, but it has its own personality and identity.

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine is set to launch on September 6th 2011 across PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.

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  1. Rokco says:

    You forgot the most important part! No cover system! This really differentiates it from other Third Person Shooters like Gears.

    I am excited for this game.

  2. Knikitta says:

    Well if I showed no interest in this game before now, I am certainly intrigued now!

  3. Lorna Lorna says:

    The special ed. box sets that we saw on display at the show looked very tasty!

  4. Stu Stu says:

    I’ve had my eye on this since it was first announced. Had it on pre-order for ages too, I cannot wait for its release and glad that, judging from this write up, it’s looking to be shaping up very well indeed. Yay!

  5. Samuel Samuel says:

    A slower paced console shooter is just what the doctor ordered. I can’t keep up with the squeaky teens on Halo! I wasn’t too sure about this before E3, but I really like what I’m seeing now, think I might have to try and set some cash aside to get it.

    Good write up Ben.

  6. Edward Edward says:

    As much as I could never get into Warhammer, I really enjoyed Dawn of War and I’m looking forward to this, as it’s going to differentiate from the norm in a way that’ll make it a pleasure to try out. However, I wasn’t even slightly interested in it before this preview, so congratulations on another great job Ben :)

    I do however have one question: does it need more dakka? ;)

  7. Dave [TeldurUK] says:

    Very excited for this title. Does help that I’m a big Warhammer geek.

    Can’t wait for Kill Team (that xbla/psn download)

  8. Mark Mark_S says:

    Another game I can’t wait for. Huge warhammer geek, awesome to see a third person shooter that gets rid of the cover system, which makes perfect sense. When you read into what a Space Marine in the 40k universe actually is you will understand why.

    Excited, awesome write up Ben, you have out done yourself again.

  9. Ben Ben says:

    @Dave [TeldurUK] – I managed to take a brief look at Killing Floor but couldn’t really get enough time on it to draft up opinions of preview length. It did look very nice though. Reminded me a bit of Zombie apocalypse but with a Warhammer theme. I think it’ll be a nice addition to XBLA and PSN when its released, bit of a stepping stone into the Warhammer universe if you will.

  10. Kat says:

    I shall forward this to Steve, he’s into all that Warhammer malarky. I do love the little Orky fellas, they’re cute :D

  11. Rainns says:

    I preordered this weeks ago, and im dying to play it!! but ill have to wait untill summer is over…. SUCKS

  12. Jon says:

    I bought the Pre-order for PC for this, and im so planning to get the Limited edition copy for My PS3 as one can never have enough of good things.

    I hope this has a good storyline that defines the WH40K genre, and if possible, have another game featuring the Blood Angels! Who wouldnt want to play something that swoops down from the sky clad in red and gold ceremite plate, embossed in pinion wings of white, and fights with the most passion and dedication for the Emperor?

  13. Ben Ben says:

    @ Jon – They had the collectors edition at E3, sadly it was behind glass so no touchy feely. It looks lovely and the purity seal is especially very nice looking.

    I think they’ve just announced a new Dawn of War game so expect we’ll see some more Blood Raven action in that, hope so anyway.

  14. Captain Wazzakus says:

    For The Emperor.

    - Captain Wazzakus.

  15. [...] GamingLives.com got to try out the Space Marine demo at E3 and you can read how they got on with it with their preview here. [...]

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