Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Now, I am Become Death : Space Marine Demo

For many months now, my Xbox has been languishing in it's own private hell slowly gathering dust and occasionally plagued by by our moggy Merlin hoping that the heating has been turned back on at nap site #360.

There had been no games to tempt me to retrieve my controller from the corner where it had come to rest, following the throwing incident brought about by my billionth failed attempt at Halo Reach's "If they came to hear me beg" achievement.

This was good for my hobby activities, not so good for my wife, at least she saw me when sat on the sofa in front of the console.

So it was with some relief to all parties concerned that the demo download for THQ's third person shooter Space Marine became available last week.

I've now played through the two single player levels provided in the demo and first impressions are...

It looks the business, the Forge World is suitably industrial, having grand vistas similar in scope to Bungies Halo series (although perhaps not quite as stunning and AI populated); giant arcane looking machinery {check} dark brooding corridors {check} mutilated Imperial Guardsmen {check} oh and skulls lots of skulls! {check}

The Marines (three of them in this case, you and two AI Battle Brothers) are the hulking armoured killing machines you always imagined they should be, the ground rumbles at your footfall, power armour clanks with each evasive roll and Bolters thunder with the sound of the Emperors wrath.

The guys who produced the Ultramarines Movie should take note, this is what the Angels of Death are all about.

Lets not forget the Orks, the protagonists in these two short demo missions, they're mean, green and suitably well spoken 'WAAAGH!' They come in various flavours, from waves of Boyz wiv Choppas or Shootas with the odd Stikkbomb thrown for good measure; to what look like Tankbustas and a few Nobz that can ruin even an Astartes day. There are also a few Gretchin mobz and Squig bombs (I was so pleased to see them included, they almost blew me back to Ultramar the first time I encountered them).

Gameplay is fairly straight forward with basic shooting and close combat provided by a Bolt Pistol with infinite reloads and the trusty chainsword. Switching between the two is seamless and both provide satisfyingly brutal carnage; so much so I had to force myself to try out the rest of the arsenal (more of that in a moment).

Your armour has a limited but rechargeable energy bar (I'm thinking Conversion Field or something similar) which appears to stand up to projectile weapons better than melee, which would fit the field guess.

Your health is replenished in two ways, the first is to perform stun and execution moves in close combat which I thought was an interesting concept; encouraging you to close with your enemies. I found this a little difficult to master at first and even when you do, if you pick a bad moment to heal up as you perform the slow mo execution, other opponents can be kicking what little life you have left out of you. Marines are only functionally immortal and this game will remind you of that if you don't play a bit tactically.

The second is to fill up a special ability gauge by amassing kills, when full and activated you gain a brief period of 'The Emperors Protects' for want of a better word, your health is topped up and you can go all Furious Charge on your foe.

Weapon options are accessed by the D Pad and included a Bolter, Stalker Bolter and Vengence Launcher (think plasma 'sticky' grenades fired from a launcher and remotely detonated). Ammo for which can be found in various caches around the game area.

There was also a hidden Power Axe which was all kinds of awesome to go whaling on the Orks with.

Ancillary equipment comes in the form of a Jump Pack on one level and once again THQ have got it spot on, the pack allows you to make 'fairly' controlled hops across platforms and clang back down to Terra Firma with all the grace of the Gene bred tank you are.

This has all the makings of a great game that should satisfy the established 40k fanbase and has great potential to push the Universe of the Dark Millennium further into the main stream. Will it win any awards...? Perhaps not, I don't think from what I've seen that it breaks new ground; but it ticked all the right boxes for me and I'll be happily sacrificing a few painting hours to get re acquainted with my Xbox and deal death to the enemies of the Imperium.

For the Emperor!


The Inner Geek said...

This game is a serious temptation. I decided to go back to school this semester and I have zero free time. However, I might have to miss some sleep for this game... soon.

Bix said...

I've read some other less than flattering reviews of the demo but I'm still fairly upbeat about this one & will also be sacrificing face time with the God Morpheus once I get back & pick up a copy. It's the only way life & hobby will be able to coexist with it.

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