Space Marine Demo

Okay so, Space Marine demo. This is only the second non RTS title Relic have ever made, and it shows. The demo is competently executed, but I'm not hugely impressed. It certainly wasn't bad though. The melee combat works, but it begs for a block option, or defensive stance of some sort. It's nice to see the 40k world up close in something that isn't Fire Warrior, but as is usual for this generation of games it's brown. Really fucking brown. In a universe where everyone dresses like an LGBT pride march, I'd expect some bright vibrant colours, but sadly Relic has opted for the usual 'Brown is real' approach. The voice acting on the marines is nice, but it did take me several minutes to differentiate between them and the orks.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but it also needs a cover system. Here it comes, 'waaah waaah you're not playing it properly'-can it. Charging a gun line in this game will get you cut down faster than public spending. Nothing wrong with that, but it means you're in an awkward sort of shimmy left and right while you soften the enemy line before charging. A cover system would make this far less fiddly and more enjoyable.

Healing by executing enemies is a very nice idea conceptually and shows how a game’s mechanics can complement its artistic and thematic direction. And here’s the inevitable however- when enemies can keep wailing on you while you’re healing, it doesn’t really help matters. If you’re low on health, odds are you’ll die while executing the enemy- especially if there’s an ork nob in the area. I can see this working better in co op where agro control can be more easily managed, but from my experience with the demo the ability to fight in a defensive posture would be hugely beneficial.

I had far more fun with the jump pack mission, but at that point the game was so easy it was laughable. Fly up, smash down. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I think the spectacle of the game will win many people over. Hint, if you’re been thinking things like ‘but you get to cut off an ork’s balls with a chainsword’ while reading this, that means you. Spectacle though, is a pretty weak thing to hinge your entire experience on. Still, if all you want is to run around with the most over the top, impractical weapon ever devised while screaming reverence for the Emperor, then Space Marine will probably suffice.

And to be honest the spectacle does help paper over some of the cracks in the gameplay. It’s a lot easier to ignore the fact healing often means losing more health than you get back when it’s done via the medium of, well... belting an orc in the nads with a chainsword so it lifts him up of the ground and then bifurcates him.

Still, I need a little more. Spectacle gets old. Seeing the same kill moves over and over again means that no matter how cool they may be, they're going to get old. Likewise graphics give way to the next generation of technology and become dated. Good gameplay though lasts for a very long time. There's a reason Counter Strike and Star Craft are still so popular.

I’ll probably get the full game, but if I do it will be when it’s on sale.

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