As a non-PC gamer, I don’t know a whole lot about Warhammer and its universe. All I know is that people in REALLY big armor fight against Orcs with big guns and chainsaw-swords. Even with such a small library of knowledge to go with, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine always seemed interesting to me. It’s obvious that the game was inspired by Gears of War, but I wanted to see if it was just a clone, or if it was something original.
The good news is that Space Marine is most definitely original. Instead of borrowing the story from Gears of War, the developers have crafted a story that works seamlessly with the pre-established canon, and it feels unique. Long story short, the Orcs have found something they shouldn’t have, and your squad has to go in and stop them from using it. It sounds basic, but the introduction of third parties manages to keep it from being cliché.
Gameplay was certainly inspired by Gears of War, but that doesn’t mean that Space Marine is a clone. The greatest proof of this was explained to me the instant the demo started: “There is no cover, so don’t play this game like Gears of War.” Space Marine is all about getting into the thick of the action, annihilating hordes of enemies, and is NOT about taking cover and being cautious. This notion of being-up-to-your-knees-in-Orcs is helped along by the seamless transition between gun- and swordplay. It feels good to storm into battle, switching from swords to guns to special techniques to finishers to mopping up survivors. It all adds up to feeling like you control the way the fight plays out, instead of relying on preset, scripted moments.
The graphics hold up just as well. Most impressive is the game’s performance; everything runs smoothly, even in the thick of combat with hordes of enemies on all sides. The art style, although initially created in order to identify units in a real-time strategy games, is a strong contributor to the game’s strong overall presentation. It’s original, and the big, bulky art style and strong color palette really work well together. I really believe that, if the game had gone for something more traditional, it would just look generic and drab. Thankfully, Space Marine looks great.
Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine was my first pleasant surprise of E3. The game is a very visceral, in-your-face, satisfying sort of game, and one that manages to stand out from the crowd of other, generic third person shooters. Hopefully, this games gets the press it deserves, because it’s certainly a breath of fresh air.