Previews

Warhammer 40K Space Marine: More than fantasy fan service?

Quality time with Gears of Warhammer...

Ask anybody from Relic to comment on Space Marine and we bet they'll use the phrase 'visible violent deaths'.

They're the buzzwords central to this project: a shooter-cum-chainsworder that's all about getting up close with Orks and Chaos and stamping them into giant red puddles. To a point.

We played four chunks of the game in total - purging Orks from an infested industrial complex in a mission called 'Best Laid Plans'; breaking an Ork assault on a Titan works facility in 'Factory Approach'; racing through an enemy-filled canyon in 'Under a Baleful Sky'; and clearing out an infested sewer in '... And Out The Other'.

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While there's some blood and gore, there's nothing close to the chain-sodomising action found in Epic's big hitter. Kicking an Ork results in the green goon exploding in a small puff of red: comical, yes, but violent? After hacking through more than two dozen Orks in one small room, all that was left on the floor was a smear of crimson and two limbs. Everything else had vanished into thin air.

REVERSE GEAR
Space Marine isn't as gruesome as expected, nor as Gears of War-y - the lack of lock-to-cover makes it much more frantic. When you're swarmed by sprinting Orks the shooting isn't robust enough, and because you're often attacked by gaggles of baddies at once you're frequently encouraged to switch to melée attacks.

Do so and things go a tad Dynasty Warriors. Switching between guns and melée is seamless thanks to all the sword-swinging inputs on the face buttons, but sadly enemies have no gristle to cut through: your sword glides through Orks without resistance.

Bodies drop left, right and centre with just a few swishes of your Chainsword (later replaced with the Power Axe and Thunder Hammer), making combat feel hollow and throwaway. Even close-up executions are missing any punch.

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What it currently lacks in meat, however, Space Marine makes up for in fan service. Warhammer followers will no doubt appreciate the attention to the tiniest of details, and an authentic collection of 15 weapons and 26 enemy variants are impressive.

We're just hoping Relic can inject some of the magic so plentiful in their PC titles to appeal to more than just hardcore Games Workshop fans.

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