Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine
When It Comes to far off futures, there can't be many as bleak than the one predicted by the warped minds at Games Workshop. On the often squalid, at best austere planets of the Imperium, humanity fights to control the threat from the Warp where gods and demons feed on the fear and distrust between men, ratlings, stunties and all the other races transposed from Warhammer's pseudo-medieval fantasy realm.
Thankfully, to protect humanity from the creatures of the Warp and other aliens like the Orks and Eldar, there are the Space Marines. Genetically altered humans, dressed in power armour, these are the Emperor's own special forces, and in Space Marine we'll be able to take direct control of them for the first time in a third-person action game.
Developed by the studio behind the Dawn of War series, we can expect to be able to direct the efforts of a squad as they fight to capture a forge word recently attacked by Orks. Relic have yet to reveal a full list of enemies and weapons, but we can certainly expect to be able to jump into ranks of enemy troops and remove a few limbs with chainswords. Standard-issue bolters and Devastator weaponry will able be available, with new equipment becoming unlocked as the campaign progresses.
There's no news on what the multiplayer options will be. In fact we've only recently had it confirmed the game is coming to PC. Le't's hope Relic give it the necessary shine that PC gamers hope for and expect when it becomes available early next year.
Download Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine
We All Know that videogames are about escapism and wish fulfilment. But for a frightening moment of introspection, think about where we gamers seem to want to escape to and what wishes we usually want to fulfil.
Our chosen destinations are usually either barren, war-torn environments or, worse still, blasted post-apocalyptic wastelands where everybody on the planet is dead or horribly mutated. As for wish fulfilment, it seems the person most gamers want to be is a snarling muscle-bound space marine who sweats testosterone, eats his enemies' firstborn and shits cast iron girders. I bet psychiatrists order a second Ferrari when they hear they've got a gamer in the waiting room. But if you want to satisfy those urges, Relic's new shooter ticks all those boxes, hell, it's even called Space Marine.
Set in the Warhammer40,000 universe, the game takes place on an enormous Imperial Forge Planet which has been comprehensively ruined by an invading army of Orks. In order to claim back this sensitive corner of the Empire, the Ultramarines are sent in - a group of super-pious space knights, bred to be the universe's elite fighting force.
Essentially, you play as a seven foot tall genetically engineered man-tank, whose job it is to pile into the battlefield and crack some skulls. Warhammer's space marines are the most feared warriors around, so if you see one clomping around in that distinctive metal armour, revving a chainsword, you're advised to leg it before the limbs start flying.
The Forge World itself is impressively realised, with huge Gothic architecture dominating many of the areas. Warhammer's universe is all about the kind of scale that an extra 38,000 or so years of technological advancement would allow human beings to achieve, so these are the towering constructions that you'll be touring in the game. While Space Marine doesn't appear to be the most visually sumptuous shooter around, the sheer enormity of the levels and how dwarfed you feel by your surroundings more than makes up for a drab colour scheme.
Being in the enormous metal wellies of a space marine already looks like being a satisfying experience. For the most part you'll be playing from an over-the-shoulder perspective, popping enemies with recognisable weapons from the board games. The Bolter, for example, is the marine's standard shooter, a chunky pistol that fires explosive slugs. From what we can tell, the weapon handling looks crisp and responsive, with a zoom option for even more precision aiming.
Where things get really interesting is with the addition of true melee combat. Rather than just offering you the chance to clonk someone on the head with your weapon or elbow if they stray too close to your hulking physical form, as soon as you hit the melee button Space Marine shifts gears. Your guy whips out a chainsword - predictably a brutal splicing of a sword and a chainsaw -and the camera instantly pulls back to a wider, nearly static shot, allowing you to flail around slicing enemies into tiny chunks without getting confused as to where you'll be waving the sword next. Essentially it swaps between Gears of War to Devil May Cry in an instant. And squeeze the trigger on a gun and the camera snaps instantly back to the shoulder. They move fast for big lads, these space marines.
World Made Real
The only niggling concern in all of this is Relic's back catalogue. They don't have a great deal of experience in the way of action shooters, their only one was poor compared to the huge selection of RTS and strategy titles that have cemented the developer as one of the darlings of PC development.
What's heartening is that if there's any developer who can do the Warhammer universe justice, it's this one. The Dawn of War series shows Relic knows the franchise inside out, and it's highly unlikely that authenticity will be compromised in Space Marine.
Besides, this offers a perspective on a much-loved sci-fi universe that has never been seen before. Most people who immerse themselves in the 40,000 lore have to do so by painting tiny model armies and gathering around a bit of MDF with plastic trees stuck to it. Space Marine will allow them to live it and see the fruits of three decades of vivid imagination realised as an actual, 3D world.
If Relic can blend that with a satisfying core mechanic, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine could well be an essential buy, for Warhammer and shooter fans alike.