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Posted on Sep 9, 2011 in Electronic Games

Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine – PC Game First Impressions

By Jim Zabek

Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine. PC Game First Impressions. Publisher: THQ. Developer: Relic. $46.99

Fans of Warhammer 40,000 have long been awaiting the arrival of Space Marine. Primarily developed for consoles, a PC version has been released and after playing a few hours I have some initial impressions.

Space Marine was developed as a console action title (as opposed to a First-Person Shooter); I was hopeful it would satisfy as a PC game but had reservations. Most action games tend to emphasize splashy graphics and action over gameplay and plot, but the best action titles bring depth along with the high-speed pace. Console titles, however, tend to bring a heaping helping of auto-aim that negates the skill hardcore PC FPS gamers are accustomed to seeing. The standard resolution on a TV these days is 1080 – nearly half the 1900 my 17" laptop enjoys, meaning that the detail on a TV is nearly half that provided on a PC and so the levels of precision aren’t the same. Great fun can be had on console games, but they typically don’t satisfy in the same way that PC action games do.

 

So I expected the feel of Space Marine to play like a console game, and I was not disappointed. What keeps me coming back is the atmosphere. The Warhammer 40,000 universe is a rich landscape of gothic space opera and Space Marine’s campaign places the player squarely in it.

Offering both a single-player campaign as well as multiplayer online action, the Day 1 release had some serious matching problems. Players could experience long delays getting into open servers, and invitations to friends were routinely met with the message “unable to connect.” By Day 2 those issues had been resolved, and now on the afternoon of Day 3 the few server problems out there are handled by the wholesale transport of a game from one host to another, mid-game.

Players seeking an over-the-top action set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe have a winner on their hands. As the player gains experience he levels up, unlocking new armor, weapons, and classes. Success in any console game comes from the successful mix of weapons, perks, and combos, and Space Marine follows that formula.

The highly anticipated pre-purchase bonuses, however, have to wait until players hit Level 4 to be enjoyed. Each pre-purchase bonus was based on where the game was purchased. For example a special Bolter was available at Wal-Mart, while the Space Wolves livery was available through pre-orders at GameStop. Substantially the game was no different between these pre-order bonuses, and presumably players will be able to purchase the skins for a nominal fee via DLC in the near future. As one might expect, while the higher level unlocks can provide players with more powerful weapons and armor, they remained no substitute for smart gameplay.

Who might not enjoy Space Marine? If you don’t enjoy fast-paced action games you might want to take a pass. Space Marine is best played after a couple of shots of recaff. On the other hand, fans of the 40,000 universe looking for non-stop Space Marine combat will find themselves right at home. With players having access from everything from lascannons to assault packs, the game is truly a three-dimensional action game. Opponents assault packs allow players to jump to extreme height and then plunge behind friendly “lines.” Players should constantly check for opponents not just ahead of them, but behind, too, as the game’s fast pace will flow all over the map and one area that seemed secure a moment ago might very well be in play the next.

I have been pleased so far with Space Marine. Despite some matching problems during highly active game times (night), when you can get into multiplayer servers Space Marine is great fun. Better than I expected from a game that is clearly a console action title, and it stands well on its own as a light, fast-paced PC action title. The single-player game has more than enough flavor in it to satisfy Warhammer 40,000 fans, and the multiplayer game has enough meat to satisfy the hungriest Ultramarine.

About the Author
Blood Claws whisper of the Wolf Lord Zabek and his 13th Company: how the Company pursued howling Chaos Demons back into the Warp. The Skjalds tell few tales of the Lost Company, though Wolf Priests know many. Despite the whispers of taint, the few living Long Fangs that remember him know the Wolf Lord to be pure of heart, and only the faithless and the lost think otherwise. And it is only the most faithless who seem to return to the Fang having thought their battle lost, only to be saved by the 13th; there andgone again as fast as Fenrisian Thunder.

7 Comments

  1. I’m not sure this will be a day one purchase for me, but I’ve heard that it lives up to the expectations of the lore. Good review.

    The Emperor protects, brother.

  2. I think you may be mistaken in your opening paragraph. For a television, 1080 refers to its vertical resolution. It has a horizontal resolution of 1920. It is unlikely (not impossible) that your 17 inch laptop exceeds this. The deciding factor in image quality is your graphics card, which on a laptop is likely not to be terribly great–giving you an image that is the equivalent or worse than what a console can output.

    • I have 2 1920 x1200 laptops. Thats higher res than my hd tv i think.

    • Actually Chris, the laptop may very likely have a resolution above 1080p. It doesn’t depend on the videocard so much as the screen’s aspect ratio. 1080p is a 16:9 widescreen, whereas many laptops, especially older ones or “business” class laptops, have 16:10 aspect ratios. That means the screen could do 1920×1080, but it would either shrink the screen vertically or have black bars on the top and bottom.

      Either way, a 17″ laptop is very capable of having a 1200p (that’s 1920×1200) display. I’ve seen some that go beyond that, though such laptops are rare because of the high cost.

    • Thanks for the clarification, Chris. I wasn’t aware that TVs had that kind of horizontal resolution.

      • I’d add Jim that the vast majority of console games display at 720p (1280×720), and the game consoles upscale them to 1080p.

      • I am aware that some business class laptops have higher resolutions, which is why I used “may,” but those computers would almost certainly be unsuitable for gaming as they would not have gaming cards (quadros do wonderful things in CAD but not so wonderful things with DirectX). If the author is able to play this game on a laptop, it’s verly likely a consumer laptop with a hefty mobile graphics card. Consoles do upscale from lower revolutions to reach a faux 1080, but the image they upscale is often rendered better with more (bells and whistles) then an image rendered by a laptop at 1080 (which sacrifices numerous effects for pixels).

        I played the demo of Space Marine on my PC (which is a gaming PC) with everything maxed out and it looked quite good. I also rented it for my Xbox (hard to plunk down 50 dollars for an 8 hour campaign) and it looks fine (though clearly not as great as on my PC).

        It’s an enjoyable slugfest but linear in the extreme. You’ll make no decisions. There’s no strategy. It doesn’t really even matter what weapons one chooses. I guess it’s true to 40K. The best course is always to charge forward into close combat (which is really a blast). I found that using a controller gave a better game than a mouse and keyboard (melee is better with a controller).

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