Tuesday, 23 August 2011

[Impressions] For The Emperor!

Tonight I sat down and played through the first part of the Space Marine demo. The mission I accepted was called 'The Inquistor'. What did I think?

Now...I'm going to try and not be too biased, as after all, I'm a massive fan of Warhammer 40,000. I've got lots and lots of Warhammer models dotted around, including Orks and Space Marines.

The development of Space Marine (SM) was a different step for the videogame studio Relic, of whom have spawned some fantastic stradegy games in the past (Company of Heroes, Homeworld and of course the Warhammer 40K Dawn of War games). This is because SM has you, the player, controlling a single marine from a third person perspective. Essentially, think Gears of War but with 40K stylings and characters.

Although it's going to be compared with Gears of War in many areas, it does try to set itself apart by choosing different approaches to gameplay. Take for example cover. Traditionally, and not just in GoW, you can dip into cover to protect yourself from incoming gunfire. Not so in this title though! You just smash through it.

Not including a covering system means your constantly on the move, blasting away enemies with your various assortment of range weapons or taking the fight closer with your chainsword. You've got to keep fighting back the waves of enemies that can spawn at various points during the gameplay. Pause for a moment, and you'll get over-run and will find yourself cutting through too many Orks than you can handle.

It's at this stage of this write-up that I'll mention its difficulty. The menu before the demo level kicks off asks me which difficulty I'd like to go for, which as per most games I went with your run-of-the-mill Normal setting, ignoring the easy and hard options. Now the level was a...moderate...length for a demo, however I did find myself dying no fewer than 4 times. This surprised me...I don't think I was expecting to die so many times in what I though was going to be a straight-forward hack and slash kind-of game.

Its easy to get yourself to involve in a big group of Orks, and while they chip away at your health you'll be happy to know you've got options to counter-act this. Pressing the Y button on your 360 controller stuns a normal Ork, which then displays a B icon above his head. Tapping B when this happens cuts to a special move which usually involves your chainsword meeting a part of the nasty Ork before being kicked in the face by your boot. Not only is this visually nice, it also gives you a bit of health back. This is great, as you won't find any health packs floating around anywhere. I put my many deaths down to not stunning and recovering enough health...

Combat is pretty fluid. As mentioned Y stuns normal Orks, although not the bigger ('arder) Ork Nobz. If your surrounded by the blighters Y will cause a slight area of effect damage, giving you a little more breathing space. X is your standard melee attack, which causes your chainsword to slice around in front of you, turning into a combo of swathes if you tap X a couple of times. When you've killed enough enemies the Ultramarines logo in the bottom left corner glows which allows you to press both thumb sticks, causing your character to activate Fury which deals a good amount of damage to creatures around you and beefing up your attacks for the next few seconds.

The left and right triggers, like many games of this genre, are your Aim and Fire controls. The D-Pad lets you switch between the weapons your currently holding (in the demo these are the ever faithful Bolt Pistol, the Bolter, a Bolter with a scope and a Vengeance Launcher - sticky grenades!). The right bumper button reloads your weapon and its fellow bumper button throws a grenade. Holding in the left thumb stick makes your character run.

Visually it looks good. This game isn't for those who don't like seeing blood in their videogames, as this one has plenty! The level was well thought out, if a bit too linear for my liking. Textures, lighting and architecture were all faithful to the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Playing as a bulky marine felt right, with the screen bobbing around when you ran to give you even more feeling that your a walking mini-mech. With many demos I did encounter some glitches, including one which cause an Ork to disappear in front of me and reappear behind me. None of them were game breaking, however I hope the full retail release smooths out the little niggly issues.

So...all and all...I enjoyed my time spent on Space Marine. I have got the 2nd playable mission to try out, which is a level involving jump packs, but that can wait for another evening.

I hope they smooth out some of the magical disappearing Orks while making sure the game does ship with Co-op multiplayer (which is rumoured to be dropped). I also hope you can unlock/use different melee combos, as I could imagine switching between the takedown and general melee attack throughout the whole game getting a little boring.

Then again, I'll buy this anyway...

The demo for Space Marine is available to download now via Xbox Live and Steam, with PSN coming soon.

1 comment:

Jason said...

the combat/stunning maechanic seems cool. Didn't know this was in the game