GenCon 2011: Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine hands-on

by: Russell -
If you’re a gamer, you’ve probably heard of Warhammer 40k.  There have been a few video games and PC games, but I mostly associate Warhammer with miniatures, and that’s the one type of game I’m really not into.  I wouldn’t mind trying it out, but I’m really in no hurry, nor do I have the money to get into it right now.  However, I will try out Warhammer video games, and I had a chance to get some hands-on time with THQ’s upcoming game Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 (I played the 360 version).  I know that we did a hands-on report from E3, but since I wasn’t able to attend E3, this was my first chance at playing the game.

The first thing I saw was the loading screen that showed the controls.  What I saw were things like X, X+X, X+X+X, and X+X+X+X, and my first thought was “is this going to be Thor all over again”.  Thankfully, it’s not.  The combat with Thor was hitting X one to four times, then hit Y to end the combo.  Warhammer 40k: Space Marine is similar, but ending combos with Y actually does something useful: it can stun enemies.  This is incredibly useful as you can then perform a finishing attack to not only defeat the enemy, but also regain some health, and as quickly as I was losing health, that helped incredibly.  I like it much better than Thor because at least when you end your combos, it does something other than just damage, and the enemies can even get up before you get to them, so you have to rush over to them and perform a finishing attack (which is just hitting B) before they get up, making you stun them again, or accidentally kill them outright on accident.

The gun I used in the demo (not sure if it’s the only one or if you can pick up more) uses ammo, but it seemed like it regenerates on its own after time.  I kept seeing the message “RELOAD” on my screen, but couldn’t find a way to reload.  However, I could still fire, so it seems like it could be energy based.  If so, that’s awesome.  One of my favorite weapons in Halo was the Plasma Rifle because it basically consumed no ammo, it just had a small cool down period.  You can also hold LT to aim better and get a bit of a zoom to shoot enemies from a distance.  Add in a jetpack that allows for a bit of flight and a ground-slam attack to stun groups of enemies, and it made for an interesting experience.

There were only two things that disappointed me with the demo.  First off, shooting an enemy behind you is a bit tough.  Unless I missed a way to quickly turn around, it I had enemies behind me, I often found myself running forward a bit, turning around (which took a couple seconds to do a complete 180 it seemed), and slashing away at anything that actually kept up with me.  The second thing that disappointed me was the demo ending right as it was getting good, but that’s how demos usually are.
Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine releases on September 6th on the Xbox 360, Playststion 3, and PC.  As much as I liked the demo, this just might be the first thing I ever pick up involving Games Workshop and Warhammer.
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