Hands-on game demo. For the Emperor!
San Diego Comic-Con coverage brought to you by Tonner, Collectibles Insurance, and Big Bad Toy Store.
I've liked the look of Games Workshop's Warhammer 40,000 as far back as the late '80s, but it hasn't been until more recently, after reading the intense action-packed novels, that I have fallen absolutely in love with it. This is dark science fiction at its best, a dystopian future where mankind's survival primarily rests in the hands of massively powerful super soldiers called the Space Marines. The Warhammer 40K universe is very layered and complex, filled with rich history and exotic characters, but one thing is always a constant: War.
Now the next evolution of Warhammer 40k is underway as Relic Entertainment and THQ prepare to launch Space Marine, a third-person action game slated for release September 6, 2011. While a Warhammer 40k video game is nothing new, Space Marine breaks the real-time strategy mold of past releases by placing the player directly in the power armor of the Emperor's finest - the Adeptus Astartes. Playing as Captain Titus of the legendary Ultramarines Chapter, your mission is to defend an Imperial planet from a savage Ork invasion (pictured above), as well as the Imperium of Man's greatest threat, the Forces of Chaos.
THQ gave us the special opportunity at Comic-Con to demo Space Marine right after our behind-the-scenes look at Darksiders II (see our story HERE). Where Darksiders II was still in early devlopment, Space Marine was nearly complete and our hands-on gameplay experience was nothing short of awesome. The first thing we noticed was that Space Marine is not your typical shooter. For starters, there's way more to the game than simply firing a gun: Combat seamlessly blends in over-the-top melee attacks. Flipping between the two is fast and flawless, though we often found ourselves performing the latter out of sheer pleasure. Tearing through hordes of Orks with a Chainsword or Power Axe was beyond satisfying. There is no cover system in Space Marine, the game fully conveying the incredible power you possess as the most advanced solider in the universe. Lets just say a Space Marine could crush Master Chief in a heartbeat (Read: FAST. Space Marine's have TWO hearts).
Your ever-present default weapon is the Bolt Pistol. This standard sidearm (which in W40K is more like a canon - Bolt weapons fire explosive rounds) is great for plucking off enemies without worrying about wasting ammo - it never runs out. The Bolt Pistol is a good turn-to weapon, but more often you'll be using heavy pieces of artillery, such as the more damaging Bolter (rifle-sized version of the Bolt Pistol) or Vengeance Launcher (like a trigger-activated grenade launcher). These heavy weapons require constant reloads, however, and when an Ork swarm surrounds you (which is often) you'll find yourself switching to brutal hand-to-hand melee combat in the blink of an eye. Where ranged weapons are easily selected by the D-pad (you can hold three firearms in addition to your Bolt Pistol), melee action is performed on the fly via use of the X and Y controller buttons.
Combo moves are not only encouraged, but are practically manditory as you engage tougher enemies. Eradicating the xenos scum is not only your job, but the way you acquire health. Dispatching Orks as quickly and efficiently as possible is a must for your survival. A combo move we quickly mastered was a shoulder dash (X,X,Y) that stuns the enemy. Once weakened, an enemy can be "executed" by tapping the B button. Performing this move spells instant death for your foe and rewards you with numerous unique animations of you ripping the Ork's head off or splitting the greenskin in two. To get you through the toughest of times, a devastating power up move can be used for bloody crowd dispersal. When your meter - fueled by kills - is at full capacity, press in both joysticks to unleash the Emperor's fury; unbridled carnage at its finest.
Our time playing Space Marine was immensely enjoyable. Gameplay was smooth, the graphics were slick, and the action was extremely intense. Fans of shooters are going to find plenty to love about Space Marine's diverse combat system. Run and gun or hack and slash, there is no right or wrong way to play as long as you reach your objective. In a separate campaign demo, we even acquired a jet pack that elevated combat to a new level with destructive ground pounds and the ability to reach tactical sniping spots. THQ promises Space Marine will offer much more than what we saw in our brief hands-on demo, including fully customizable Space Marine versus Chaos Space Marine multiplayer matches. Space Marine drops on September 6, 2011 and is available for the PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 systems. Check out the official website spacemarine.com and Space Marine's on Facebook for further details.
Special thanks to THQ for the amazing hands-on demo. The Emperor protects!