Over the past decade, nearly all Warhammer 40,000
game releases have been strategy affairs. Ever since THQ acquired the rights to the intellectual property in the early 2000s, Relic Entertainment has been churning out new iterations in the Dawn of War
series of RTS games almost on a yearly basis. Come September 6th, however, we will see the first action title in the franchise since 2003, when an apparently abhorrent FPS was released on PlayStation 2 and ported to Windows…
is a third-person action game releasing for PC, 360, and PS3 that puts you in a suit of the titular faction’s oversized and ornate power armor on a quest to defend an Imperial forge world from Ork invasion. Next week, THQ will be releasing a demo that features two truncated levels showcasing the game’s in-your-face combat, both on foot and using a jump pack. You can try it for yourself right now if you’ve pre-ordered the game, or just keep reading for my opinion of it.
Beat ‘em down or shoot ‘em up
The first level of the demo looks like it takes place during the fifth chapter of the campaign. You already have access to several weapons, including a bolt pistol, bolter, bolt rifle, and something called the Vengeance Launcher, which fires remotely-detonated mines. Of course, you also carry your trusty chainsword, which will do just as much killing as the guns. While not technically dual-wielding the two, you are able to effortlessly alternate between blasting Orks at a distance and engaging in brutal melee combat. While you’re encouraged to get up close and personal (that’s the only way to regain health quickly), it seems you could play Space Marine like a third-person shooter if you wanted. Though there is no cover system, you do have a regenerating shield and ample opportunity to replenish ammunition.
’s controls were clearly designed for a gamepad, but they work well enough with the keyboard and mouse. By default, left-click fires your selected gun and right-click is for melee, which means you have to hold left-control to zoom in for more precise shooting. It feels weird not using RMB to do that, but melee is so important in this game that it’s worth the trade-off (there’s no crouching anyway). Aiming overall is tight and responsive enough, provided you disable mouse smoothing in the options. As with most multiplatform titles these days, you can plug in an Xbox 360 controller and seamlessly transition to a gameplay experience that might as well be on a console. You know, except for the smoother framerate and higher resolution visuals.
You are accompanied by a pair of squadmates for both levels in the demo, as will likely be the case for most levels of the campaign in the full game. They’re not particularly effective in a fight, but they do tend to draw a few of the enemies’ attention away from you. As such, you will be counted on to cause the majority of the bloodshed, which is only fair for a single-player experience. The hordes of Orks I’ve seen consisted of waves of around 10-20 weaker enemies and maybe one or two stronger ones. Saving your Fury Mode for them is a good idea, otherwise you’ll get beat up pretty good in close combat. The bigger nuisances to me were the ranged Orks: if you allow them to sit back and take potshots while you scuffle with the cannon fodder, they will bring down your health rather efficiently.