So let’s talk about what’s cool. Specifically, let’s talk about Space Marine. Or better yet, let’s watch the bloody, bloody trailer…
With the exception of Soulstorm and Fire Warrior, THQ has done a fine job of translating the table top game into the PC world. Soulstorm came at the butt end of a growing list of Dawn of War expansions shortly before Dawn of War 2, and seemed to lack the innovation and quality they put into the other expansions. Meanwhile, Fire Warrior felt like it just rehashed the Red Faction game engine without tweaking or improving it.
Yes, it’s true that both these games got solid reviews, but I’m also used to other 40k fan boys pumping up the ratings far more than they deserve. You can see it on Amazon when you look up the reviews of new Black Library books. And while most of the novels the Black Library publishes are good quality, some have fallen short of my expectations.
But I’ve seen little about Space Marine thus far that is cause for alarm. The graphics look tight, they’ve invested some effort in developing at least a decent story from the cut scenes. The varieties of weapons to use and enemies to kill are solid.
I get a touch confused because the game seems more focused on melee over ranged combat, but the list of available ranged weapons seems larger than the close combat choices. What’s worse is that I’m actually not sure what weapons will be available and what won’t be. For example, the online site gives us this small list of weapons. But one trailer gave us a brief glimpse of the autocannon, while another shows a laser cannon, a heavy bolter and a power axe. I have not seen a flamer, power fist nor a missile launcher. At least not yet.
I suspect that the developers are probably having a long, last minute debate over what will be put in the game and what will be held back to either purchase later or thrown into expansions. From the start, earlier trailers seemed to have a different vision for the game involving a team of mixed combat styles. Something obviously changed between now and then.
One cause of concern for me is going to be game play variety. So far, about 95% of what I’ve seen consisted of hacking, slashing and shooting through huge mobs of Orks or mowing down Chaos Marines. The other 5% consisted of some sort of vehicular mid air shoot out.
The environment is so spectacular, even Captain Titus has to pause in awe of it.
Combat is wonderful, but most gamers these days need more. A tight combat system makes the game a lot of fun, as it did for God of War. But Kratos’ tale was also mixed with puzzle solving on the side to work the mind and not just the fingers. I’m not exactly sure that puzzles would really fit into a game like this. However, I also fear that the game will suffer from this pattern:
- Notice large mob of bad guys coming over to kindly make your acquaintance. And then kill you.
- Engage said group of green gentlemen, smashing buttons to find some combination of moves that relieves them of their lives.
- Proceed to next area before the stench of the fresh cadavers’ relaxed bowels becomes overpowering.
Maybe there is some variety mixed in there. Perhaps driving vehicles. Or skulking about as a scout, planting bombs, sniping, knifing and keeping out of sight. Still, a lot of details have been held back. So it’s really wait and see at this point.
But I find myself really looking forward to the multiplayer. THQ decided to give us the option of being either Space Marines or Chaos Marines, and unbelievable customization options to boot. Here’s a parting video for you to see:
Sadly, I suspect there will be no sandvich.