Wot I Think: Space Marine

Apparently, this guy's a Space Marine. Funny, the game never mentions that.

Hello! I’ve spent my waking hours since yesterday afternoon battering my way through Relic’s Ork-mashing sci-fi action game Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine (which was released yesterday in most of the world but not until bloody Friday in the UK) and am now ready to empty the contents of my head all over you. This is only for the singleplayer campaign, however – I’m hoping to turn my attention to the multiplayer shortly… On with the word-show!

Space Marine spent around four years in development. At times, it’s difficult to conjecture exactly what all those long months went towards, at least in terms of the singleplayer campaign. I like the game – at times, I like it a lot. At other times, I was yawning my way through yet another near-identical, closed environment, fighting another vast pack of largely identical Orks who were, yet again, pointlessly shouting ‘Space Marine!’ at me every five seconds. Me? I was shouting ‘Chaos Space Marines! Not more bloody Orks! C’mon, please! I know they’re in here somewhere! Hurry up!

Space Marine front-loads most of its ideas and features, makes you love ’em, then mercilessly and mystifyingly repeats them for several hours. Those ideas and features: alternately smacking and shooting a shitload of Orks. It looks spectacular, and there’s no question to my mind that this is 40K’s grim’n’bloody universe in its most visually pleasing digital incarnation yet. In fact, the amount of ornate detail and a subtly painted look to the characters’ armour makes Space Marine the closest we’ve come yet to Games Workshop miniatures come to life.

It’s not exactly short on reverence for the source material, though alas it does ultimately turn it to a rote tale with a straightforward twist that anyone with even a passing familiarity with 40K will spot from a lightyear away. That said, if you’re of a mind to hunt down the audiologs scattered around the level, which isn’t a thrilling task in and of itself as all it involves is checking empty corners, the backstory’s much more fleshed out, adding valuable context and nuance to the growling of the core characters. The same can’t be said for the sequel-hungry cliffhanger everything wraps up around, sadly.

Back to that real problem, though – while not an especially long game (I polished it off in around 10 hours, though men of superior button-pushing are claiming 8), at least half its length is essentially repetition. The game appears to have built up its various mechanics then draped formula content around it until the final stretch, at which point Chaos enter the fray and, while you’re still not doing anything that you haven’t already been doing for hours, the stakes and ferocity of the games step up considerably. Puts me in mind of a long car journey; it’s quite exciting at the start, all rich with the possibilities of your destination, but then you end up on the same motorway for three hours at a steady speed, barely moving a muscle, and slowly zone out into a sort of reflexive fug. Suddenly, though, there’s your junction! And a pretty country road! It’s all jolly good fun again.

So, again, I’m not entirely sure how Space Marine took so long to make – at a wild, entirely speculative guess, perhaps a whole lot of stuff ended up on the drawing board, too impractical to actually realise within the game’s apparently tight brief. For this is a very simple, almost arcade affair, underneath the exaggerated gore and flair of its multifarious kill sequences. You either shoot everything to death, axe/chainsaw/hammer it death or stun it then perform an execution move to regain health. You could chuck a grenade in there too if you like, or activate the Fury power-up that makes you a wee bit stronger for a while. There isn’t a whole lot to it – however, and enormously in its favour, Space Marine’s weapon loadout and ammo availability is such that you can tailor the fight to your preferred style (which in my case is ‘carry a big bloody hammer and not a lot else’) rather than be constrained by what enemies and what guns the game chooses to give you at any one point.

Which is lovely: Deus Ex it ain’t, but I felt I was bashing Orks my way, not forced into an arbitrary sniper sequence or something similar miserable. The exception to this is mighty jump-pack, which allows for rapid traversal of the horizontal and the vertical, and the game’s single most-pleasing attack – the slam’n’stun. Alas, you never get to choose when you do or don’t have the jump-pack; it’s given very rarely and taken away again all too soon. ‘Out of fuel’, mutters Titus, shrugging it off his shoulders. Yeah, and your Bolter was out of ammo a few seconds ago, but that wasn’t a problem for long, was it?

This does mean that the jump-pack is one of the all-too-few elements of the game that doesn’t outstay its welcome. Environments occasionally change appearance, or at least colour palette, but it’s consistently running along fixed paths through industrial-looking interiors or devastated exteriors, interspersed with long lift rides. I suspect design conversations had it that Space Marines don’t do puzzles, which is probably a correct decision. I’m not sure filling all the game’s downtime with elevator journeys was a better choice, however.

There’s a key point I’m dancing around, and one that potentially explains Space Marine in a big way. It’s a game about being not a space marine, but a Space Marine, and as such its laser-focus is on making that feel good: variety and setpieces and everything else that’s so nigglingly missing doubtless became secondary concerns to that.

A Space Marine isn’t any old action hero, even aside from the fact they’re meant to be intergalactic fascists (something the game only lightly touches on, alas – playable character Captain Titus is a straight-up military hero). In 40K fiction, they’re armoured supermen, able to batter and Bolter their way through untold hordes of Xenos, and that is very much the case here. It’s not at all uncommon to stumble your way into death, where you’ll be at the sometimes cruel mercies of checkpointing, but it’s much more common to murder about 30 Orks without breaking a sweat. At times – early in the game, the first introduction of the Thunder Hammer and the ultra-napalm sprayer that is the Meltagun, the sadly few and far between jetpack sequences – this is absolutely, unabashedly joyous. No mess, no fuss, just all-out, ludicrous sci-fi violence on a grand scale. That this can be made boring is upsetting and mystifying. On and on and on and on and WHERE ARE THE CHAOS I WANT TO FIGHT SOME CHAOS NOW PLEEEEEEEEEEEEASE.

Chaos don’t get too much of a look in all-told, but at least this means they don’t get boring like the Orks do. A far more varied force, they require marginally more thoughtful fighting and provide a good excuse to battle against dark mirrors of yourself as well as daemons, grenade-lobbing traitor Guardsmen and the surprisingly deadly Heretics. Once Chaos are in the fight, you can’t rely on one favoured tactic quite so much anymore – the big, more ammo-scarce guns are that much more crucial to stay alive when you’ve got a pair of Chaos Space Marines thundering towards you. There’s a palpable sense that these are a real foe – the Orks just a warm-up.

There are some great moments late in the game where it’s Orks vs Chaos vs Space Marines in enormous fights you can weave your way in and out of, but apart from a couple of relatively well-judged boss fights, that’s about as close as Space Marine gets to setpieces. There’s a tantalising moment where it seems as though you’ll take control of one of the most awesome vehicles in the Imperial armoury – my 13-year-old self took total control of my brain at the mere idea of it – but then it all plays out in a cutscene and you’re back to the cyclic batter’n’Bolter action for a couple more hours.

It’s become almost de rigeur for RPS judgements to worry about revealing mechanical spoilers, but in this case there’s so very little to spoil in that regard. If you’ve played the demo – and you really should – it’s basically that stretched out over 10 hours, for both good and ill. I like it, and I kept playing through to the end for this write-up despite being pretty damned sure I’d already seen everything it had to offer, but I almost wish I hadn’t played it – and instead had preserved the giddy buzz the demo gave me. That said, the groundwork here, the raw and excellent Space Marineiness, is something that could be built upon in wonderful ways, whether that’s in DLC (some manner of co-op is already planned) or the sequel it so crassly angles for.

Despite growing tired of its relentless sameness, I also kind of miss it now I’m not playing it anymore – it’s immensely satisfying to hammer and Lascannon your way through a small army then proudly pan an absurdly blood-splattered Titus around the now-empty room it all happened in. Those four years built a solid foundation for sure; a shame Space Marine doesn’t go much further than that.


  1. CMaster says:

    I wonder if a more “typical” gamer, playing it over the course of a week or so ratehr than one long, epic session, would find the repetetiveness less of a problem.

    Also, a game for everyone who enjoys God of War alikes, or a game for the 40k faithful?

    • sneetch says:

      Very good question…. I find repetition to be less of a problem in games because of precisely that reason I suspect.

    • Alec Meer says:

      I am conscious of that; it’s a perennial reviewing problem. I think in this instance you’re more likely to lose interest and forget to come back, at least during the middle stretch, but potentially attacking it chunk by chunk will stave off some of the ennui. It is worth battling through until the later, Chaos stages, but it’s not like God of War in that there aren’t crazy OTT setpieces or evolving powers to spice up the journey there.

    • Casimir Effect says:

      It’s all in the playstyle and mindset. The original AssCreed always got shouted at by a lot of people for being repetitive but I never had that problem with it, being incapable as I am of sitting and playing a high-octane game like that (or this, I imagine) for more than 3 hours without feeling burnt out and needing a break.

      Now, a good RPG or something like Kings Bounty is all too able to eat hour after hour of my life, regardless of how samey everything is.

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      I think game reviewers are extremely dedicated games players – I mean, it’s their entire life, so repetition is slower to sink in, and it balances out that they have to play massive onslaught periods of a game. If anything in fact I think that repetition sinks in faster for more than most reviewers, by comparison to their reviews.

    • Tyshalle says:

      I’ll tell you this much, as a fairly typical gamer (I maybe log 5 hours or so a week normally, but I did dump 35 hours into 6 days for Deus Ex), Space Marine felt extremely tedious within the first 30 minutes. And after the first hour or so, I had to stop because I was so bored.

      The mechanics and everything are fairly solid, and it seems like it has the foundation to be a very entertaining, if very shallow game, but unfortunately between the way, way, way too numerous cut scenes and the fact that it starts getting repetitive mere minutes in makes me wonder how the hell they even got away charging $50 for this game when it’s worth not a cent over $15.

    • Danarchist says:

      I think your onto something there really. Most games I have had people tell me were “boring, tedious, samey” like shogun 2 ended up not being so for me. I know I am in no way more patient than the next guy so I always figured it was just the fact I get about 1.5 hrs of game time most days (the time between when I get off work and my girlfriend does hehe). I try not to play the same game twice in a row if I have more than 1 installed at the moment. I think this keeps me from getting burned out on games that could easily do that. I have played the demo about 4 times through and never really got bored of it. I imagine if I sat down and played it for 3+ hours that would be a totally different experience.
      Damn DXHR for ruining my no repeat system!

      Ya know whats funny? I seem to still play puzzle quest about 3 times a week somehow. That game is basic and brainless but has some staying power!

      (suffering from run-on-sentence itis today)

    • Neoviper says:

      Repetitiveness is definitely in the eye of the beholder. I remember one of the primary gripes about Dawn of War 2, incidentally, being it’s missions not having much variety, and it’s definitely true that they don’t, but I played through it 3 full times, and at least once more partially. The gameplay provided such a simple release for me that it didn’t bother me that much that it was essentially doing the same thing over and over again. I suspect space marine will be similar for me, I don’t really ever get tired of hacking orks/chaos/whatever to pieces.

    • ffordesoon says:

      So my impression of the demo was correct, then? It’s essentially the best Dynasty Warriors game anyone’s ever made, for good and ill?

    • studenteternal says:

      Repetition is a really tough one to judge, because it is going to vary so much from person to person, heck my wife buys, plays, and apparently enjoys games that are absolutely nothing but repetition with perhaps a thin veneer of new mechanics (the various and assorted diner dash and zooma progeny)

      With all due respect to Tyshalle and Alec, I played in two fairly large multi hour sessions and did not even begin to get bored of killing greenskins and wandering through the grimdark wreckage until shortly before chaos made its heavily predictable appearance. (which might have been helped if about half the promotional art had not featured chaos dudes so prominently) I even found there was a nice bit of vary-up in its handouts of new weapon, upgrading your fury attack, and what nots.

      now in the interests of full disclosure, I have not finished the game yet, and I am a huge 40k nerd, so that may factor in :)

      P.S. I am glada to here you don’t go running off with that ultimate weapon, there is a whole lot of lore in thier operation and I would hate to retconn that three space marines can run *very slight spoiler*

      a titan.

    • sinbad269 says:

      I played the demo on PS3. Imagine God of War meets Gears of War. Like I said on an impression article I wrote on a forum, “Godly Gears of Warhammer”, pretty much sums it up

  2. Wilson says:

    I was disappointed by the demo. Maybe I wasn’t very good at the game, but I really didn’t feel very superhuman. The guns were not as impressive as I expected them to be, and I never felt especially in control of a battle. Part of this might have been the fact I didn’t learn the controls through playing the game, I only picked them up from the loading screens, which really made it more work than perhaps it should have been.

    I had been really excited for this, but I didn’t feel like a Space Marine when I played the demo.

    • Gnoupi says:

      True that in melee, you may be strong, but you are far from invincible, especially against a large crowd.
      I was expecting more a Darksiders feeling.

      But I guess it makes sense, in the future, there is only War.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I felt like an almost invincible killing machine. Stomping on one orks head, then cutting the next ork in half. I think it’s about getting into the flow of doing executions at the right time and place.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      Sounds like you were playing it wrong. Play it right and it’s nigh on impossible to die in that demo and yes, you do indeed feel very superhuman. Play it wrong and well, you feel like an idiot, but that’s a plyer problem, the game is fine.

    • Setroc says:

      I don’t think that it was a game problem or a player problem – but a demo problem. It dropped you in the middle of the missions and had to balance the shooting with the melee combos, stuns, and executions, all while managing your health correctly. Usually games ease you into these elements but the demo plonked you right in and didn’t explain any of it. It became second nature during the course of the demo, and once that had happened I felt satisfyingly super-powered.

    • zoombapup says:

      Have to say I agree here. I tried the demo and got mashed so many times I just felt frustrated rather than “yeah, gimme more”. Part of the problem I think was that I was missing some unseen tactic that I guess everyone else hit upon. So unless I can somehow figure that tactic out (and the demo didnt help itself there, because it didnt spot I was dying and didnt give me any hints about how to fix it) then the game isnt worth buying.

      Thats a big problem, the constant failure because even when you try and adapt, you still hit the same vague notion that you’re doing something wrong, but being swarmed by enemies doesnt give you much chance to think tactically.

      So out of interest, what is the winning tactic I missed? I know you can kill for health. But I seemed to be getting constantly sniped or something. Is there a block button?

    • Maktaka says:

      True, but most demos make the opposite mistake of just putting you into the tutorial and first mission, before you can do anything cool. Some offset this by giving you abilities from later in the game, which then hoses the balance and challenge, leaving the demo feeling pointless. I think SM’s demo is the best way to handle things short of providing a specially crafted demo that encompasses both tutorial and in-depth combat areas (a la Half Life 2’s demo).

      @zoombapup The thing you may have been missing was the strike-stun combo. Strike-strike-strike-stun is an aoe stun that bowls over orks in a 360 blast. Hitting the stun earlier in the combo reduces the spread but increases the effectiveness. My enjoyment of the demo definitely increased once I realized I could mix up the attacks like that.

  3. Laurentius says:

    I loved demo and I know that game will be demo stretched to 8-10 hours but I don’t get that repetition grudge here, some games are about repetition, that’s their strength because its mechanic is fun and yes, you wan to repeat it to get this fun: Tetris, Bejeweled. So here instead of matching same colored stones I will be chainsawing orcs, will it get old and boring at some moment, oh yes it will, but definitely not after 10 hours.

    • Hallgrim says:

      I can understand wishing there was more to it, but it seems odd to see people focusing on the negative. Good Warhammer 40k game, wonderful feel to the combat, solid PC version. Check, check, check.

      Yeah its a tunnel-of-doom style RPG, but its fun as hell.

    • Echo Black says:

      How is this game anything near a RPG?

  4. jti says:

    Without those Warhammer glasses most of the people here seem to have this game looks all surface and not much game.

    • Danarchist says:

      The only way to truly appease rabid WAR fanbois like me would be a true rpg space marine experience. Actually that would be really tough though, I mean travel to planet–>exterminate xenos–travel to next planet….wait…Mass Effect???

      I have always wanted to play an rpg where you are either an inquisitor or Imperial Assasin hunting down heretics. It could easily be done as an open world sandbox rpg and you could use existing game mechanics and do it pretty well.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      There’s plenty of game, it just seems some people are not satisfied with their being only war in the grim darkness of the far future and want spreadsheets and stats twiddling.

    • Bonedwarf says:

      Danarchist: Love that hunting down heretics idea. I adore the WH40K universe, but the whole “purge the heretic” ethos is my favourite part.

      Basically a video game version of the “Inquisitor” game.

    • Starky says:

      TB, that isn’t true – okay it might be for some idiots, but it is far from the common opinion.

      Most people I know didn’t want stats, and spreadsheets – just more combo’s, better enemy variety, and a better pacing to the game (which goes EXCITING… boring, fun, boring, fun, boring EXCITING… boring, boring… fun exciting, fun).

      The game is a solid 8/10, but with a bit more work could have been amazing if it had a wider array of moves, weapon combo’s (even semi-scripted ones), finishers, executions, and maim attacks it would have been amazing.

  5. Calneon says:

    It sounds like a shame the Chaos didn’t get much of a look in, they seem far more interesting than Orks. I’m still looking forward to it, and even if the SP gets a bit dull there’s still MP :).

  6. Gnoupi says:

    From this WIT, it seems I could apply this XKCD logic, and just play the demo over and over again, for the same experience?

  7. airtekh says:

    “If you’ve played the demo – and you really should – it’s basically that stretched out over 10 hours”

    That’s good enough for me, even without the multiplayer. I won’t be getting it just yet though, I’m broke after buying Human Revolution. (Worth every penny though).

  8. Schiraman says:

    I love me a bit of 40k, and both DoW and DoW2 were great (although in slightly different ways) – but TBH I found even the demo for Space Marine a bit shallow and repetitive.

    Oh well, maybe the inevitable sequel will be worth getting ;)

  9. kadeton says:

    The Warhammer nerd in me is howling “Jump packs can’t run out of fuel, they run off the same compact reactors that power the rest of the armour!”

    • Schelome says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one.
      Also, you do not dump a holy machine like that when you are “done” with it…

    • Syra says:

      Preach it brother!

    • DrazharLn says:

      I was scandalized at the disrespect shown to that Titan plasma cannon. The Mechanicus would have been furious.

  10. node says:

    I wonder why, between this and the recent movie, it’s all about Ultramarines? Basically the most boring of the countless Chapters.

    Why not Spare Wolves, Dark Angels, Blood Angels… or even an Inquisitor please! Not to mention that Orks and Chaos are the most played out enemy in the entire setting. Still can’t wait for this, the demo was wonderfully brutal and made me giggle like a maniac, but I hope it gets a sequel that is more varied both in gameplay (from the sounds of it) and races.

    • Squirrelfanatic says:

      I think it has been stated somewhere, here on RPS, that Ultras are the least fucked-up guys of the whole bunch of idiots. Space-Furries and other chapters just wouldn’t be as accessible to the standard earth citizen. And in all honesty, bashing Orkz is what being a Spezmerin is all about.

    • SF Legend says:

      An inquisitor RPG is top of my list of Warhammer 40k video games I’d like to see.

    • node says:

      Fair comment that Ultras are the most accessible, but in my view that also still makes them the most boring. Variety defeats stagnation – there’s only so much they can do with them (though to Relic’s credit, they did make a new Chapter for the DoW games). My point is as much about exploring more than the central three races too, but I can see the marketing challenges of selling something like an Eldar Exarch game, given that even Space Marine isn’t a guaranteed success yet.

    • Grot_Punter says:

      I guess it should be said that, in a rather silly, unsurprising twist near the end, there’s a bit involving the Blood Ravens. Tis a game made by Relic after all.

    • Daiv says:

      They tried “Let’s not go for the obvious and boring protagonists” and we got Fire Warrior.

    • Quizboy says:

      Fire Warrior was the weirdest damn thing. Make an FPS starring the Tau – a race whose entire hat is driving stinking great high-tech mechanised suits into combat and scoping out targets for their massed gunners, while running away screaming if anything sharper than a butter knife comes within fifty feet. And then parp out a Halo clone with 1. no battlesuits, 2. no drones, 3. no sneaking around and laying markerlights and 4. no parking pairs of Devilfish end-on-end. I think there’s real potential for a Tau game, but that wasn’t at all how to do it.

      Actually I’ve realised what I want even more than any of this stuff is a Ciaphas Cain game. It’d be three parts running away, and one part coming up with a plausible excuse.

  11. Tei says:

    A dog byte the postmaster, and he died of a infection. And the city give him a medal, and is now a hero of delivering postcards in time.

    But a SPACE MARINE liberate a whole planet, where used to live 9 billions of empire citizens, and his just another day, because that is the life of a SPACE MARINE.

    I don’t expect normal people to understand this.

  12. Ace McAwesome says:

    Im probably about halfway through it. Its pretty repetitive but the things you’re being asked to repeat are fun and cool to look at, so that helps. Its simple and smashy and actually quite refreshing after a stealth playthrough of ultra tactical Deus Ex, because there isn’t a whole ton of thought involved. The problem Space Marine is going to run into, if it runs into any, is the 60 buck price point (USD ). If they charged 40 for this game I think 90% of people would be satisfied with their purchase.

  13. Cinnamon says:

    From the demo my impressions was that visually the violence was nice but it needed something extra and small things like the other two marines just sort of standing around while I was dancing around the arena felt off. The strategy gamer in me wanted to play as the leader of the Orks directing the action if they even do that instead of just shouting and rushing in.

  14. Nallen says:

    I think I may be a complete idiot, but I can’t find the demo for love nor money. Going via the site, claiming the code and then trying to activate it on steam as instructed just gives me a message saying I already have it activated on my account.

    Which I don’t. :(

  15. Daz says:

    Definitely going to pick this up at some point, but I just wanted to give a thumbs up to Relic for making a proper pc version of the title. Great pc options, supports aspect ratios I had never heard of, and you can disable the windows key <3

    It's a sad day when we have to point out these things, but Relic did a very nice job here. Only criticism I can level is that the crosshair kind of sticks out with a "Look, I'm a multiplatform game!" flag, but that really is splitting hairs.

    • ceriphim says:

      @Daz I have some pretty serious issues with the game as a whole, but your comments about the PC version made this a good place to discuss-

      PC-Specific Issues
      -Terrible, terrible (terrible) texture resolutions. I played on 1920×1080 and while the locations and scenery were good at setting the tone, the terribly low-res textures on the marines and characters really ruined a lot of the enjoyment for me. Every bit of the armor detail was blurry, jagged, or just plain painted-on looking. When your game is called *SPACE MARINE* at least make them look good, eh?
      -Checkpoints/Unskippable Cutscenes – What is this I don’t even? Maybe it’s just made worse coming from 50 hours of DXHR but the lack of ability to save at reasonable points and being forced to wade through the same shitty cutscene 40x due to the asymptotically uneven difficulty levels is inexcusable (I was literally mashing my Das Keyboard trying to skip through the last boss fight cutscene, to the point where my gf came in from the other room to see what was going on).
      -Last Bossfight – Where the hell did the QTE bossfight ending come from??? I have literally only played 10 minutes of God of War 3 because i couldn’t hand the terrible mechanics, and this game ENDS with 5 minutes of them? I was shocked at how goddamn terrible and out of place the ending was.
      *******************************END SPOILER*******************************

      -Overall the writing was terrible (this coming from a guy who has over 50 Black Library books and every piece of Space Marine fluff out there). You have people like Dan Abnett, Graham McNeill, ADB, etc out there but THIS is the story we get? WTFHAX?
      -The pacing of the story & difficulty were both terrible (that’s already been mentioned)
      -Along with the story complaints, HOW MANY TIMES do I have to go push this button, that button, ride the lift up, or down, to push another button, etc? This was most evident during the Titan sequence, at what point do you say f**k it and just blast down the bay doors with your skyscraper-sized guns???
      -My biggest story complaint is that I didn’t really feel the difference between an Astartes and some dude from Gears of War. The storyline didn’t help flesh out WHY and HOW Captain Titus is different from your ordinary badass generic “space marines”. Against orks, who are themselves superhuman, it was hard to understand just how far above “mortals” I was supposed to be. The Dan Abnett book “Brothers of the Snake” or ADB’s Night Lords series do a great job of giving us the little gritty details about life as a Space Marine, while this shows us nothing of that, rendering the Boys in Blue even more generically Smurf-like than usual.

      Lastly, I DON’T GET TO WEAR TERMINATOR ARMOR??? At all? What a waste of an opportunity. Is anyone at Relic a fan of the WH40k universe? I find it hard to believe.

    • Velvetmeds says:

      “Unskippable Cutscenes”

      Press “Enter”. Voila! Magical, isn’t it?

      I’m loving the game btw.

    • Brise Bonbons says:

      Good rant, Ceriphim.

      As good as the shooty and smashy mechanics feel in this game, these alone aren’t enough to capture the feeling of being a capital S capital M Space Marine in the 40K universe.

      It seems to me that Relic has sort of lost the plot, in an effort to… I don’t even know what. I guess go more mass-market? But it’s just silly on its face. First they give us DoW2, with its tiny squads running around like headless chickens on a huge, empty map – eschewing many of the most flavorful ideas and aspects of tabletop, while focusing on running away effectively and Warcraft III style hero units. Next they give us Space Marine, which seems to be a Hollywood war movie shoehorned into the 40K setting.

      I can imagine the next game now: WH40K: Inquisitor: You run around on a planet protecting civilians, and eventually must rescue your love interest from heresy by curing her of the Chaos taint. It’ll be totally accessible!

    • ceriphim says:

      @Brise Bonbons That’s exactly it, the IP is so watered-down in every incarnation and without good reason why. The only thing I can think of is that it’s GW’s iron-handed control. What I really want (and I suspect will never get) is a good explanation from GW why they won’t just make a goddamn digital version of the tabletop game. I *know* they’re afraid of ruining their cash-cow miniatures business but look – I’m never going to buy and play WH40k tabletop. Never. I can’t paint for shit, don’t have friends where I live now, and lack the time necessary to build & manage an army.


    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      a goddamn digital version of the tabletop game

      There must be a dodgy fan version of it somewhere, surely. Like the computer M:TG stuff that’s existed for ages and ages. It’s not really a difficult game to write if you don’t particularly care about graphics.

      If you just copy the numbers but change the names, you can probably get away with it legally too.

      Warhammer nerds, stop painting your miniatures and let us know what’s out there. I can’t come up with good search terms for this.

  16. Heliocentric says:

    I couldnt give less of a damn after playing the demo, but is the coop/multiplayer anytrhing to be excirted about?

    If not I’m tuning this game out until Warhammer 40,000: War Boss or alternatively War’ama 40k: Da Boss

    • Grot_Punter says:

      The co-op isn’t out for roughly another month, so speculation is a go for that. The Multiplayer however, is a terrifying cacophony of Bolter fire, where death is a certainty. If you’re not dodging the hail of death being vomited by a well positioned Devastator/Havoc on one side of the map, you’re standing on a capture point scanning the routes to it, both ground and air, for incoming Tacticals and Assaults/Raptors, the latter of which will most assuredly plummet from on high to pulp your head against the ground. The various perks also add an interesting, if not original, layer to the game, with things like Tacticals carrying around teleport beacons that other players can spawn on, or Assaults dealing AOE damage on take off from launch exhaust.

    • iniudan says:

      I suggest Warhammer 40k: Pirate and Hat Simulator, that way I am pretty sure we will get to play Kaptin Bluddflagg.

  17. Tyshalle says:

    This was seriously the most regrettable $50 purchase I’ve made this year. Within 30 minutes I was already feeling the weight of tedium. And one thing this article does not point out (as far as I remember, anyway) was that you seriously walk 5 feet, hit a cut scene, walk 5 feet more, hit another cut scene. And none of it is story pertinent. I remember rounding a corner and seeing some kind of digger vehicle pop out of the ground, and instantly it did a cut scene showing the Orcs charging out of it, then it let me fight them. Like, really? Is it necessary to make that a cutscene? Can’t you just let me use my eyes to see it?

    This might sound like a minor complaint, but there are seriously two dozen or more cutscenes in the first hour alone. It was abysmally implemented and really ground all of my interest out of this game.

    Hearing that it gets better toward the end makes me marginally interested in trying to get to that, but hearing that I’d first have to grind my way through another several hours of this crap really turns me off from the whole thing.

    • mondomau says:

      Really? That’s annoying – the unskippable cutscenes in the demo were my only gripe (Seriously, when are developers going to realise unskippable cutscenes are right up there with QTEs as ‘shit only developers seem to like in a game’).

      Oh well, I will get this anyway – I’d like more plot and variety but I’m fairly sure 10 hours of bashing Orks will keep me entertained.

    • sneetch says:

      No, it’s not a minor complaint, I completely agree, I hate, hate, hate the amount of games that think it’s ok to wrestle the controls from you every couple of minutes to show something the devs think is so awesome before allowing you to carry on with the game. If something is hugely impressive, draw the players attention to it by all means but don’t take control away from them all the time, the execution animations were bad enough (in the demo).

      The worst I’ve come across was FF XIII, worst game ever because of the cut-scene/flashback every 10 steps. Make a movie if you want to make a movie, but games should be playable.

      Oh well, my copy will arrive when I’m away on holidays so I’ll have to wait to see if it’s as bad for me.

    • Garret says:

      You can skip cutscenes by pressing the enter key. I would agree that they should have set that to the spacebar or something more obvious, but they didn’t.

    • nrvsNRG says:

      reading this is enough to dissuade me from buying.
      even if all these cutscenes are skippable,the immersion is already broken, and first time thru the game i wont know how pointless or important the cutscene is going to be.

  18. galaxion says:

    so is there no ‘campaign’ co-op?

  19. Lagwolf says:

    Played the demo, which ran terribly on my machine (DX ran flawlessly), and found it incredibly boring & unresponsive. Alas, this seems to be another “rush to multiplayer” game that has solo play as an afterthought. W40K nuts will love it, but other than that I can’t really see any attraction.

    • Syra says:

      well ofc, dx looks a little bit like a game from three years ago…

    • Starky says:

      Erm, so does Space Marine – in fact it’s console limited graphics are worse than some games (even console games) from 3 years ago.

      Don’t get me wrong, they’re fine, functional and the designs and setting of the 40k universe make them stand out at times, but in terms of game graphics technology they are very much average console fare.

  20. Brumisator says:

    This is exactly what I expected from playing the demo (and freaking loving every second of it).

    It’s destined to be my game I play for a couple hours, then set down for a week or so, then return to the carnage, refreshed.

  21. aircool says:

    Tech demo for 40K MMO?

    Anyway, if it’s like GoW but without the annoying cover mechanic and anal boss battle, it sounds allright. Ok, if it wasn’t SPACE MARINE then I probably wouldn’t be interested, although I think I’m more interested with the goodies in the CE (only £55 on Amazon).

    Whatever its faults, I’ll just blame them on the X360 and PS3. Stick on some of your fave, upbeat tunes and go kill some bad guys. There’s still room for games with simple mechanics that are fun to play for half an hour or so whilst the gf makes dinner ¬_¬

  22. sybrid says:

    Advice to anyone who has played Dynasty Warriors: This is basically Dynasty Warriors set in the 40k universe with guns. Orks are the new chinese peasants. So, if you’re like me and you find that you enjoy two-button melee combat, you’ll probably enjoy the game. If you don’t like Dynasty Warriors, you’re going to need some serious lust for 40k to get you through the game – the comments about empty corridors, lengthy elevator rides, and overabundance of orks have so far been completely accurate to me. From that perspective, I’d say my biggest complaint so far is that the melee weapons play very similarly (at least, so far). The combat knife was mainly differentiated from the chainsword by the fact that it sucked and the chainsword didn’t, and the power axe doesn’t seem to play all that differently from the chainsword, other than it seems to do more damage (which has left me confused every time the game has offered to let me swap from the power axe to the chainsword again). Unlike in a DW game where the weapons often play differently to an extent, the melee weapons in SM so far seem to pretty much all do the same thing, just better than the previous one.

    Anyways, if you know how to play Dynasty Warriors, you basically know how to melee in Space Marine – you have two buttons, one of which can be combo’d up to four times, and one of which can be added at any point in the combo for a heavier attack, ending the combo chain. If you’ve played a third person shooter in the last four or five years, you know how to do the shooting – for all the adverts about how SPACE MARINES DON’T NEED COVER, I’ve found that standing in rocket fire is a sure way to find out Space Marines sometimes really do need cover, which admittedly is probably less exciting ad copy.

    Multiplayer is fun but a bit counter-intuitive. Tacitcal marines seem to trump no one (I think they’re supposed to counter devastators, but so far I’ve found they don’t do any better against them than anyone else), Assault Marines trump Tacticals (once they get into melee), and Devestators trump Assault Marines (even in melee) – you’d sort of expect that to be backwards (like, the guy with the long ranged big gun should be EASIER to kill in melee, maybe?) Perhaps I’m just doing it wrong, but I find it very easy with the assault marine to kill tacticals and very difficult, even when I attack them from behind with surprise, to kill devastators, while when playing devastators I find that my only weakness is being dogpiled or running out of ammo because all the guys I killed were way over there and I’m over here. Tactical with the sniper-bolter seems to be a crapshoot against devastators (sometimes I get them, sometimes they get me), and not as awfully lopsided as devastator versus assault.

    I’ve only played multiplayer for maybe 3 hours so far, though, so maybe when I get higher level (I’m only level 10) assault marines start to make sense for fighting devastators.

    As a side note, one thing I wish they’d actually make clearer that I had to work out on my own is that stunned nobz can’t be executed – or if they can, it’s not made obvious how. I struggled for the first few fights against them trying to stun and execute them only to be hit with their counter attack. The correct, more boring strategy is to instead normal-normal-normal-heavy, over and over again, so that you keep the nob in a constant state of stunned. For some reason, even if you mash execute as soon as the stun hits, as far as I can tell the nob counterattacks if you try execute them during a stun.

    • Napalm Sushi says:

      When you hit “execute” on a stunned nob, you immediately enter into a quicktime event that’s somewhat poorly telegraphed by a small “LMB” prompt that you’re probably missing near the bottom of the screen. In it, you have to quickly mash the left mouse button to push back against his counterattack. If you succeed, you’ll shove him away and then drive your chainsword down his throat.

    • cosmicolor says:

      Stunned nobz can be executed, at least in the demo. However, if you’re not in fury mode when you do it you have to mash M1 or whatever equivalent button. It took me a few tries before I noticed that the QTE was there.

      And beaten.

  23. DK says:

    What did the 4 years go to you ask?

    Space Marine for PC – you play one of a 4-man team of Space Marines (1 Devestator, one Jumppack, one Tactical and your playable Commander), all members gain experience and have skill trees and you can give them orders. Basically, third person shooter that’s also a small scale RTT.

    Development: to the point where they could show off the interface and talk about it in presentations.

    Space Marine for Consoles and PC – you play one Space Marine, in a fully coop (4 player) capable campaign. You get experience and can upgrade all your weapons with various gobbins with said experience.

    Development: see above

    Space Marine for Consoles and PC – you play one Space Marine in a pure singleplayer campaign with no RPG mechanics whatsoever. Multiplayer is tacked on, without dedicated servers or even a push to talk function (it’s always on so you better start enjoying breathing sounds)

    That last one is what stuck after 4 years.

    • Vinraith says:

      Wow, that first one is actually a game I would have bought. Pity.

    • jomz says:

      i actually agree with this. the small niggles are seriously bothersome; i would think that we’re lucky here in the Philippines: Space Marine retails for about $30 thereabouts after taxes (we get 4 DLC cards as part of a small pre-order scheme), I can definitely feel for the people who shelled out $50 for this.

    • John Magnum says:

      That first one sounds a lot like Dawn of War II.
      I’ve basically enjoyed Space Marine, and it’s pretty gorgeous, and I really hope that it gets traditional Relic post-release support. Patches would be great, but an expansion along the lines of Dark Crusade or Retribution that adds a metagame and a ton of stuff to do and a bunch of races would be phenomenal.

    • Tei says:

      In the games I have played in multiplayer, literally everybody was open so I was unintentionally stalking everyone (the maybe 20 players?). It was like facebook, but with voice. The weird thing is that these people don’t notice that everyone can hear then. Waiting for the next game to start, I have heard a lot of french talking with mothers and girlfriends, spanish talking with mothers, a german here and there (I don’t understand germans, so these people are safe from me). I know is more or less normal for consoles, but after this experience, I consider that the lack of push to talk make voip useless.

    • sneetch says:

      The first one is similar to a game I’ve wanted for a long time, that game Band of Brothers with Arms or whatever it was called with Space Marines would be glorious.

      You’d play Captain Jackofalltradius the all purpose captain that you can equip however you want and play through a lengthy campaign where you’d encounter and take temporary command of various squads (including commandeering some guardsmen) here and there on your journey to the Citadel of Evilness and the showdown with Traitorious Maximus the big… traitor… the names may need some work but the game is a solid one.

    • Dave L. says:

      I’m pretty sure that since it’s a Steamworks game you can just change your Steam voice settings to ‘Use a push-to-talk key to transmit voice’ instead of ‘Automatically transmit my voice whenever I speak.’ That very few people actually do this isn’t the fault of the game.

  24. Fitzmogwai says:

    Oh well. I loved the demo, but money’s too tight to mention these days, so this is going to be a first sale sale for me, I think.

  25. wodin says:

    If it was a new IP…and no one knew about WH40K…this game would be passed by…the only reason people enjoy it is because they love WH40k.

  26. taldira says:

    WH40K is begging for a Mass Effect-like RPG about Inquisition.

    • John Magnum says:

      Yes yes yes yes yes.

    • Solskin says:

      I want that

    • 7Seas says:

      They are indeed. Especially because much of the work has been done for them already.

      Fantasy Flight Games publishes a superb RPG focusing on the Inquisition in 40k: Dark Heresy
      link to fantasyflightgames.com

      They also publish an RPG, with compatible rules for Deathwatch Space Marines link to fantasyflightgames.com, Rogue Traders link to fantasyflightgames.com , and Chaos link to fantasyflightgames.com

      I’ve played a lot of it, and it is all superb. Play everything from an inquisitor to a space marine to a vindicare assassin to a imperial guardsman to a chaos marine to a grey knight to a rogue trader captain to a sister of battle to a supremely powerful psyker.

      Awesome game.

      Also, Space Marine is terrific, like all relic games. That is all. Anyone getting excessively bored with the combat is not playing on Hard or has ADD. The elevator fetish was absurd though, relic do like to shoot themselves in the foot with things like that and their precious unskippable cutscenes.

      Also complaining about repetition in light of Deus Ex which was the MOST repetetive game in history. Like 20 sets back to back to stealth through, drove me nuts. Ended up just going murder town the last few sets and getting to the end only to find their idea of a game fileld with choice was to have an ending vending machine at the end lol.

    • 7Seas says:

      Oh and I should point out that there is a really pretty amazing piece of free software that lets you play all the 40k RPG games over the internet and supports virtually the entirety of the rule system, so for example combat can be highly automated.

      That plus skype allows everyone to connect to a digital tabletop and game remotely almost easier than in person.

      The software is a framework that runs on Maptool (link to rptools.net)

      Check it out here: link to forums.rptools.net

  27. iniudan says:

    Been a man of superior button-pushing skill I completed the game on hard in 7 hours on my blind run.

    Now has any good hat based simulator I must earn my right to use different different armor in the power armor simulation section of the game.

    In the latest news: Mann Co. Forge World Planetary Governor Saxton Hale, who has been of a most welcome Zealotry in the application of the Imperial decree on power armor simulator, is now under investigation by the Ordo Hereticus, for the Traitor Legion were seen using the same power armor simulator technology then the one produced under Saxton Hale authority.

  28. RichardFairbrass says:

    So, good game or not, how moddable is it? I can imagine some sort of co-op Space Hulk type mod being a winner. L4D meets WH40K.

    • Solskin says:

      I want that too

    • ceriphim says:

      Which begs the question, why the hell not just do an awesome remake of Space Hulk? That game almost writes itself, especially opposed to the cliche-ridden crapfest script they gave us for this game.

    • RichardFairbrass says:

      Hmmm not sure, but I get the feeling that Space Hulk isn’t a big part of Games Workshop’s current focus. I rarely hear anything about it compared to all the main table top stuff.

      It could be very cool, although I wonder if playing terminators would just result in you feeling a bit slow and fat more than anything else.

      I’d love a titan simulator too, and a dreadnought simulator and Eisenhorn: the film and well everything really.

  29. The Sombrero Kid says:

    They should’ve been brave enough to make it 3 hours long.

  30. reticulate says:

    If you’re wondering why it took 4 years, it’s because the studio that pitched the initial concept (THQ Studio Australia) eventually had it taken off them and handed to Relic.

    This is hearsay, but there were ‘creative differences’ between the Studio Australia management and Games Workshop. In that, they were buggerising the canon and GW are not the sort of people to let that fly. Thus, Relic was considered a good place to get the whole thing going again; I’m not sure how much of the original game actually resides in the released title, if any.

  31. Lazaruso says:

    I’m gonna go with TotalBiscuit and say it’s probably the best third-person-shooter I’ve ever played in my life.

    • Starky says:

      While I love 40k as much as the next man (except maybe hardcore neckbeard’ish grognards)…

      Seriously, It’s not even the best 3rd person shooter of the past 12 months.

      It’s a good game, and I appreciate it is a game we’ve all been waiting for a long time, and it tickles the nerd fanboy bones – but lets not get carried away – if not for the 40k licence this would be an entirely forgettable (but fun) shooter, nothing more.

    • Lazaruso says:

      I’m guessing you’ve played some different third-person shooters.

    • wodin says:

      With Starky on this one…there is nothing to this game at all. Doesn’t even look good, extremely reptitive gameplay…and hordes of enemies with no AI. Relic must have been made up as they Ork thing ment they didn’t need to program one. So much could be done with WH40K and it hasn’t been here. Such a shame. Though the developers made it pretty clear in the development vids that the focus was melee combat with hords of enemies and not much else. Fun for an hour at the most.

      The graphics a mediocre console port. The textures on the Marines look awful…low res. Infact in the demo I honestly thoguht I had missed some graphic options to beef up the visuals…but no i hadn’t…infact what video settings?

  32. captain fitz says:

    You’re playing it wrong. This isn’t an arcade action game, it’s a hardcore space marine simulation. You kill that many orcs in real life it would get boring too, and you’d be waiting for some chaos to liven things up.

  33. Eynonz says:

    Well I for one wouldn’t mind beating on Orks for an eternity….

  34. FRIENDLYUNIT says:

    “some manner of co-op is already planned”? Why yes, and announced, as many in the comments have said inexplicitly. I’m not sure RPS has mentioned it, so here’s the linkage

    link to spacemarine.com

    (If the PtP bits work it sounds utterly grand)

  35. wazups2x says:

    Too bad there’s no multiplayer. A short singleplayer game isn’t worth $50. I’ll wait for a sale.

  36. wodin says:

    Remake of Chaos Gate…that will do me….just give it a lovely facial, stick to turn based or maybe WEGO, give them loads of lovely animations, add abit more to the combat mechanics along the lines of JA2 or Silent Storm, even add a SpaceHulk or two…add some more campaigns and maybe say three chapters, with more in DLC packs!!

  37. fuggles says:

    I found the combat really unsatisfying in this, sadly (well, the demo anyway). I couldn’t decide if I was playing it wrong, as I was not using guns as I thought the focus was on melee. I found the melee swings really slow and cumbersome and in dire need of at least a block, but preferably quick and slow swings (not counting stun, that can also exist). Whenever I tried to do a stomp or execution I seemed to get badly ganked by people surrounding me, which sucked. I also never worked out how to make the grenades from the launcher explode, which wasn’t helped by the controls not being visible in game (thanks game).

    I can only really compare it to Darksiders owing to my 3rd person slasher experiences, but in Darksiders I felt powerful as everything was quick and brutal – In space marine you are a slow blue man who rolls around on the floor a lot. Heroic.

    Now, in theory if they expanded it to include Eldar, where stun/shooting could be linked to a headset and worked into a combo then that would be awesome. Also, Kill Team please?

  38. Amun says:

    We need an army of modders to come streaking down from their orbiting base and save us from mediocre games. Space Marine should be their first target.

  39. FractalChaos says:

    I have no idea why anyone who enjoys action, mayhem, frenzied dismemberment and stunning cinematic carnage wouldn’t give this game a 10+. It’s quite simply a lovingly crafted distillate of Warhammer 40,000 and Michal Bey’s blood, expertly blended together and poured into a bottle labeled “Epic Awesomesauce!!!”
    But seriously…the demo does not do it justice, this game. None of the reviews I’ve read or watched have mentioned anything about the loving attention to detail. Little touches, like the air across an entire battlefield just lifting and filling with dust from the shockwave of a planetary gun firing miles away…or the sheer amount of explosions, bolter rounds, fire balls and BLOOD that simply bathe the screen with visual overload while the orchestral soundtrack does a great job of dragging you into the Warhammer universe. All of it with silky smooth frame rates and performance.
    I am playing on a PC hooked up to a 46” plasma TV with 5.1 surround sound….and to echo one TotalBiscuit’s sentiments during his demo go-through, I have never ever felt so invested in a game, and that’s saying something. There was a moment- and I am only in chapter 2 of the campaign –where I was running through some gorgeously rendered ruins, and Captain Titus was speaking with a certain woman. The music swelled, and I was actually *insulted* that the Orks were here, defiling this Forge World.
    Ignore all the little ADD-afflicted whiners and their “It’s too much like/not enough like God of/Gears of War, FAIL”. If you enjoy gaming, action, and yes, GORE…you owe it to yourself to get this.

  40. Nim says:

    I ran through this game in roughly seven hours and while I understood the plot I could not for the life of me understand why there were only three marines on the whole planet (IT FELT THAT WAY!!!). A tactical, a sergeant? and a captain?!? A space marine captain is in charge of a whole company if I remember correctly and not mucking about at his own leisure. Should not he be directing attacks, leading his company, communicating with imperial guardsmen battalions and similar.

    And what is it with recent relic games breaking squad cohesion! A space marine squad is 10 members which can be broken down into 5-man combat squads. Not 3 as in Space Marine, not 4 as in Dow2 but 5 damnit! I don’t know why this detail makes my blood boil but seriously 5 marines minimum! Any lower and the squad is under-strength. Particularly Ultramarines should adhere to these rules as they are set by the codex.

    Some bigger battles with more squads and maybe some vehicles in the next game please. And wear those helmets already.

  41. Juiceman says:

    Never played a Warhammer game, but I did enjoy Space Marine a lot. The only complaint I have is they don’t really fill you in on the who, what, and why of the various characters and groups. It would have been nice if they explained more of the Warhammer universe for those of us who don’t know it. Like why are there space orcs with comical British accents?

  42. Moni says:

    What the hell? Why would they take a classic top-down strategy game and make it a third person slash ’em up. Fucking idiots.

  43. Will762 says:

    The verdict sounds much like that of Hard Reset: good core gameplay, in need of some crucial re-thinking in certain areas. In this case it sounds like its in dire need of some variety.

  44. evilhippo says:

    I do not disagree with the general gist of this review but for me the worst part of the game *by far* was the preposterous ‘free fall’ final boss fight.

    The whole idea was nonsensical and to drop a fight completely different in form from everything else right at the end of the game had me thinking “WTF were the devs THINKING?”