New Games Workshop Website Incoming!

gw_newwebsite_placeholder So, not long after the launch of the new Warhammer World website, the main GW site is currently down for maintenance as the covers are being removed on the brand new site! See that bit on the right? That’s a sprue, which seems to be an awesome looking model available to anyone ordering over a certain amount once the new site is up and running: gw_newwebsite_sprue   And the offer itself with a pic of the finished model (which looks rather tasty I have to say): gw_newwebsite_modeloffer Look to the skies!

Orks: Coping with an Outdated Codex

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I first started playing 40k when third edition came out. Phil had convinced my Dad to get into it and I shortly followed. I made a vague attempt to collect Imperial Guard but they weren’t for me, despite the awesome old metal models. They felt too structured. Too…sensible. I fell out of love with 40k for a while after, before a couple of years ago Jeremy gave me the Ork contents of the 5th edition 40k boxset as a birthday present. Phil followed that up with a copy of the Codex. And so began my journey collecting an army with the same level of finesse and sophistication as me…As a collector of Orks I am happy to say, without any prejudice what-so-ever, that it doesn’t matter what army you collect and what species they are: I hate them.

The answer to why this is, quite simple; it is partially because its fun to hate every other army, it makes them easier to kill, but mostly down to jealousy. I’m jealous of your guns, technology, your ballistic skill, reliability and your initiative. So why bother collecting Orks? Well they are just so different. It’s not just their great background and their rules but it is the general character of the whole army. You can guarantee that even if you play the same way every time, no two games will ever play out the same.

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However, considering they are an army with such great variety, for the Orks, nothing has changed in a very long time and this is making it harder and harder for them to remain a competitive force. I know they are not the only army still waiting on a new 6th edition codex, and I know their current book is very well written (which is probably why it has survived all of the games rule changes over the years), but the fact of the matter is the Orks have not had a new codex since the 4th edition of Warhammer 40,000 way back in 2007. For the last 2 editions of the game I have seen other armies getting shiny new guns, units and some brilliantly devastating new rules and this leads me back to the whole jealousy thing.

A week or so ago I agreed to play a new member of our group using Phil’s Ultramarines, using the new Codex: Space Marines and 6th edition rules. As far as the armies in the Warhammer 40K universe go, I have always reserved my most bitter animosity for the Space Marines. I have always felt that as cool as they look and their background is, they are the 40k Universe’s equivalent of that guy we all knew at school who never put any effort in but passes every test, always wins and as well as this, somehow gets the girl… Not that the Space Marines have any desire or need for such things. They are in fact the kind of army that make me want to run full speed across the battlefield towards them, shouting at the top of my lungs, and hit them hard in the face with something quite sharp or heavy (or both). Luckily for me this has always been the most effective way of winning, especially as an Ork will usually find that even in Power Armour, if you hit them hard enough (and enough times), they are just as squishy as anyone else.

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When preparing for the battle it was plain to see that on paper, just as they always have, the two forces look completely unbalanced with the Orks seeming to be completely out matched. The Marines can shoot further and far more accurately and even their base guns will ignore most Ork Armour, so there is no point in getting into a prolonged gun battle with them. The Space Marines are also as strong and as tough as most Orks and most importantly they are far less likely to run away. This of course poses a problem as unlike most other armies, even if you beat them in combat they are not going anywhere. To remedy this I plumbed the extensive green skin archives and consulted with some of the finest Ork tacticians, to come up with an almost fool-proof plan.

The plan was an old one but a classic. Overwhelm your opponent with sheer weight of numbers and grind them down. Then combine this with getting to them fast, or better yet very fast. Revolutionary! Granted it’s not the most elegant of plans but this is Orks not Eldar, and I have always found in the 5th edition of 40K that when in doubt this has proven to be the only way to really go toe-to-toe with and stand a chance of beating Space Marines.

I took large mobs of Boyz, some fast troops like Storm Boyz, Deff Koptas  and some trucks, plus a few special troops to deal with the inevitable well armoured tanks. Killa Kans and Tank Bustas specifically. I then ensured that set up my army in a good Waargh! formation; a wide line mixing fast vehicles in amongst the mobs to make sure I could hit his line in 2 waves. It got off to a good start as I lost fewer casualties than expected to gunfire and got my first units to the Space marine lines within 2 turns, but that is where the 6th edition changes made a difference and it all went wrong.

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(Some of the currently unpainted Waargh!)

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Warbosses and Nobs are now more vulnerable than ever, as instant kills have to be double the target’s toughness, not more than double. This is a game changer, as there are a good number of strength 10 weapons a space marine force can take. When I finally made it into combat I came across the next game changer. Furious charge is no longer as effective as it used to be. And the new overwatch rule means that some of the edge has been blunted from an Ork charge. Granted hitting on 6’s does limit the risk but rapid-firing boltguns will mean on average two Ork boys will drop. Seeing as you take from the front that can make the difference between a charge being successful and not. Which makes deployment, how you move mobs through the space and how you and when you choose to attack your targets more important than ever.

Don’t get me wrong, Orks do still dish out plenty of pain but the rule changes impact noticeably. Overwatch has the potential, given enough fire power and enough luck, to render your charge impotent. Which kinda sucks considering the assault phase is my thing. Between those changes and stuff like initiative being used  to determine whether or not a defeated unit runs, and a new Space Marine Codex, means that I’m going to have to go back to the drawing board.

The new Ork Codex can’t come soon enough and you better believe I’ll be getting it day of release and Believe me when I say I am looking forward to the new codex and I hope to be reviewing some great new rules or stat changes to level up the playing field a bit.

A Tribute to Epic Armageddon

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It’s well documented that I embarked on my adventures in wargaming at the tender age of 7 when I got a copy of Hero Quest. However, I didn’t properly understand just what I was letting myself in for until my brother got a copy of Epic: Space Marine. I’ll be honest, it took me a while to get to grips with the game. It wasn’t helped by the fact that back there and back then I generally speaking wouldn’t read. Anything. So my brother had to teach me the rules. Granted, once I had them down I was a contender despite the game being, at times a great lumbering beast that’d take all day to play.

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But we absolutely loved it and were fielding legions worth of Space Marines and a dozen or so Titans between us by the time we reached secondary school and we met people who played 40k. Even then it took a little while for us to be swayed by a game that, as far as we could tell, had less cool shit in it and demoted you from Warmaster to Captain. However, despite moving into the 30mm world Epic still remained forever in my heart as genesis not only for the hobby but for the 40k universe as a whole as it’s near limitless ambitions meant that it was forever fleshing out, expanding or explaining leaving 40k in its wake to rip off the best bits.

As time wore on 40k began to leave Epic behind, despite the release of Titan Legions and the truly mental Imperator Titan. When it eventually resurfaced much to my heart skipping delight it was in the form of Epic 40,000. If I’m honest, it was a bit shit. And not because it contained a fraction of the plastic its predecessor had in the box.

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It was a remarkably ambitious shift in rules and I totally saw what the Games Workshop was trying to do with it. It was a bold effort to strip down the long-winded infantry engagements that were often an inconvenient necessity of Epic into something more interesting, more decisive and quicker. Blast markers were, in theory, a brilliant idea. Firefights as a concept was inspired. Attack runs from flyers elegant. The Death Ray special rule…not explained and over powered but still. The reality, however, was that largely down to shoddy and poorly written rules, everything was complicated, unclear, laborious and, as a result, longer than it should have been. And unless you were Space Marines you would never ever ever win.

Epic 40,000 was a failure by any measure, but not for lack of trying on Games Workshop’s part. The models were good and the plastic scenery was amazing and highly sought after to this day. Pages of errata and FAQs followed on from the release as well as a magazine intended to make it good not shit. Desperately trying to salvage what was the crown jewel in the GW crown.

There were some gems buried amidst the unpolished turd that was Epic 40,000. For a start, flyers were far more devastating. As was anything with super heavy or Titan somewhere in its description. In fact there was no point in taking anything else. On the up side, it was also the first time we saw the current design of the Thunderhawk Gunship and Warlord Titan. Fighta Bomma’s also came screaming into the 41st millennium to harass the forces of man to the present day.

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The design of Land Raiders was moved forward and formed the basis of the current plastic kit. The design itself became a Forge World Heresy-era (ish) kit. But that hull design was, again, genesis for how Space Marine vehicles would look for the next 16 years and beyond. It also, most importantly of all gave us the mechanic that would later be revised and applied to the truly tremendous Battlefleet Gothic and by extension Epic Armageddon.

Sadly by the time Epic Armageddon was released, after years of fucking about and delays and a truly overwhelming amount of community support, the game was doomed. The tragedy is that Epic, back in the day, was just as prominent and just as important as Warhammer & Warhammer 40k. Necromunda & Mordheim were always intended to be secondary systems but Epic was core. And, if I’m honest, should have remained so. I suspect economics and space in the store had as much to do with its down grading as anything else but the fact remains that Epic, whatever its iteration, was never meant to find itself first under Fanatic and later Specialist Games. It was never meant to have the support yanked out from under it.

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Epic Armageddon, despite a phenomenally good rule set which catapulted it into the stratosphere of all time wargaming greats, it was never going to be enough because it coincided with the decision to produce the entire Epic range in metal. Making everything mind bendingly, and unsustainably expensive, even by Games Workshop standards at the time. And, as with all the Specialist Games at the time suffered from some terrible sculpts.

And the beautiful thing was that, despite its obvious ousting from its former place of glory the fans loved it. And still love it even now. More so even.

But what makes Epic so great? It’s really not just the rules, although the current rules are brilliant, it’s the sheer ambition and imagination that has always come hand in hand with Epic. As I mentioned above, it allows you to be a warmaster. To command legions of Space Marines and company upon company of armour. And because of its…ahem…epic scale, it had room for all the truly mental stuff like the Chaos Daemon engines. Stuff that we’re starting to see crop in 40k and Apocalypse now.

To this day Epic will always hold a very special place in my heart. I will never forget the feeling of excitement I got going into Games Workshop High Wycombe and handing over £5 for a Space Marine Legion or Space Marine Land Raider box. And the funny thing was that it didn’t occur to us back then not to collect all the armies. We had thousands of stands of infantry. Hundreds of tanks. Dozens of Titans. And we had them all on display. Even when Hive War came out I got the supplement and a fairly decent starting army for my birthday and I can honestly say I’ve never felt that kind of wondrous excitement since. Granted I’m a seasoned and bitter old wargamer now but I like to think that I can still be surprised and still be excited by my hobby, but Epic was and is special just for its simple, unabashed desire to live up to its name. Yes it sometimes missed the mark and yes sometimes games would take days because rules just weren’t clear enough or there was too much shit on the board, but that was fine because it was always enjoyable. And that was its real secret weapon. It was eternally fun.

Knowing the game will no longer be produced and that the current generation of young gamers, and those that follow them, will never get to play it, or even hear of it, makes me immensely sad. More so than any other of the Specialist Games we’re paying tribute to all this week. Because Warhammer 40,000 as it is now simply wouldn’t exist. The ambitious nature of Apocalypse is in response to Epic’s passing because on some level the Games Workshop understands that we all want to conquer worlds, not just city blocks.

There is an argument that Apocalypse is commercially driven and on some level that’s probably true, but I also have to believe that on another level Apocalypse exists so gamers like me can look at the Heldrake, the Lord of Skulls, Stompas and Super Heavies and be cast back to that time when we commanded those genuinely apocalyptic forces. And we can smile to our selves and think: I can remember when you could fit one of those in the palm of a child’s hand. And Super Heavies they were 3 for £5.

All that aside, nothing will ever change the contribution Epic: Space Marine, Epic: Titan Legions, Epic: 40,000 & Epic: Armageddon made to the Games Workshop hobby. Its rules, models and background continue to inspire even now. And to this day the Titan Legions rule books have some of the best fluff and rules ever written.

If we have to say good-bye at all, and if Epic Armageddon were its swan song then its melody would make grown men weep. Epic, from the bottom of my heart, I salute you.

Adeptusly Titanicus

Recently I decided to get back into playing Adeptus Titanicus. It was a decision motivated by a few factors. The first was that it was a game that just Ian, of The Chaps, and I played and although we played infrequently they are some of the best nights I’ve had in the 23 years I’ve been wargaming for. It was as much to do with the company as the game or the game outcome but there is something immensely satisfying about stalking Titans through cityscapes hunting one another. So I suppose I’d like to rekindle some of that fun and general tomfoolery.

The second motivation is I deeply and truly love the Imperial Titan models. Well, all Titan models really, but the Imperial ones especially. They are a triumph of design perfectly balancing the asethtic of each faction whilst making it perfectly clear to even the most untrained eye that they represented an unholy amount of arse-fuckery.

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The third and final factor I suppose comes from the fact that bar Hero Quest and Space Crusade, Adeptus Titanicus and Epic was the point my brother and I properly got into the hobby. We’d been playing Hero Quest and Space Crusade for over a year, writing quests/missions and ever-expanding the game with home-made files etc. But where it changed was whilst on holiday, on a balmy evening in Torquay, Cornwall. I couldn’t tell you the exact year but I suspect around 1990/1. I, rather typically, had already blown the paltry amount of pocket-money I had saved whereas my brother, ever the tight fisted frugal one, had managed to save up and had money to burn. And he came across this…

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I’m not sure if, at the time, he knew what he was buying. Or maybe he’d seen a picture or two in the couple of issues of White Dwarf I’d bought using money I’d saved that our mother gave for sweets after school. Neither of us could have known that this simple box of 6 ‘detailed’ plastic model kits would be the start of our love affair with Epic and beyond that wargaming as a whole.

I rather suspect it’s because of this seemingly innocent purchase and the later acquisition of Space Marine that I have such a fondness for ‘Epic’ scale games be they on the ground, churning through Victorian seas or in the depths of space. It may have also had something to do with the awesome artwork knocking around at the time.

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So you can imagine my excitement when Epic 40,000 came out. Especially when you consider that it was then that the new look (current) Warlord Titan came out. As I’ve written about before it is, and possibly always will be, one of my all time favourite models. Even though they’re often badly cast and are an absolute bastard to put together, I can’t help but love them. If nothing else they’re bloody great war engines that can lay waste to an entire city.

More than that though, the Warlord Titan is the natural evolution of a model that fired the imagination of an 8-year-old boy into embracing the hobby that I now couldn’t be without. And they’re bloody great war engines that can lay waste to an entire city.

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It is little wonder then that after Epic 40,000 turned out to be a complete dogs dinner, and it wasn’t financially viable for myself, or Ian, to collect an Epic Armageddon army that Adeptus Titanicus was the obvious choice. Although the rules aren’t going to win any awards it is immensely fun. And there are few things more satisfying than charging a Reaver Titan with a close combat weapon into close combat against a Phantom Titan and hacking its leg off. Granted the resulting critical caused the reactor to blow killing the Reaver along with the Phantom but it was still totally worth it.

There’s a nice symmetry to coming back to Adeptus Titanicus considering, although we never played the original rules, it was that game and those, iconic, beetle backed behemoths that got my brother and I into the hobby. I like to think that my continued excitement for the hobby still comes from that point when my brother lifted the lid and we saw the models for the first time. I try to channel the wide-eyed wonder of 8-year-old me seeing something so awesome and complex he can’t comprehend it.

I also suspect this is the reason I get so cross when wargaming companies let us down. Their job is to make each and every one of us feel as excited as an 8-year-old and more and more that gets forgotten.

Whatever the reason for me rebuilding my Titan force (having sold it during a particularly brutal period of skintness years ago) I feel that same sense of giddy anticipation that I felt when I first played Epic across my mini-snooker table and my brother convinced me that Howling Banshees were long-range troops and Dark Reapers close combat specialists.

The cost of the models and idiocy/greed of some sellers on eBay will mean that it’ll most likely be a slow burn project, but that’s okay because rest assured the God Machines of Mars will stride once more.

Mass Effect 40,000

So all indications are that Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium has been canned. Or at least canned as a MMORPG. If I’m honest, I’m quite pleased because, quite simply, there was no way on this Earth that THQ were going to recreate the 40k Universe as faithfully or as successfully as the crack team of writers at the Black Library. Even Space Marine, which was pretty good, took artistic license too far in places (lascannon as a sniper rifle anyone?), so to make the 40k Universe accessible to the masses in the form of a massively multiplayer online space, and throw in RPG elements that make sense and provide replay value, there was going to have to be soon serious fucking about with the IP.

The other good thing about its cancellation is that it breathes life into Space Marine 2, or equivalent, which had been thoroughly pissed all over by THQ’s to bod late last year. However, it could be Space Marine but not as we know it as indications are that Dark Millennium will be reborn as a third person shooter with RPG/Narrative elements included and some multiplayer thrown in for good measure. So, basically ME40k. I’ll be honest, the idea really intrigues me. As I say, Space Marine was a good game, but suffered from a story that was a little confused in places, and the fact that you were herded down linear maps inexorably hurtling towards the end of the game confident in the knowledge that you’d get the bad guy in the end. How you fought the game made bugger all difference and with games like Mass Effect kicking around you can’t get away with that any more. Gamers expect more. Especially as games like Mass Effect and Halo offer some incredible IPs that you can get nice and stuck into outside of the games themselves, just like 40k.

ME40kDM (Mass Effect 40,000: Dark Millennium), catchy no?, could mean that players get all the fun of Space Marine’s mental combat mechanics but with the kind of story we’ve come to expect from the likes of Abnett, McNeill, Swallow et al. This could be epic. Game changingly so. With a background as rich as Warhammer 40,000’s it could blow the monopoly that Mass Effect still possesses an iron grip on despite the fans misgivings about the ending of the third installment. With news of 4th, 5th and 6th instalments leaked last year now is the time for the Games Workshop and THQ to get into the game. I think that a 40k equivalent could do extremely well providing that (a) They have a solid and ambitious script, ideally written by a BL author or authors, (b) The voice actors are good and have done their reading before they do their studio session (are you listening cast of the Ultramarines movie!) and (c) that the project lead doesn’t confuse gratuitous violence for action.

A 40k narrative focussed, third person shooter with Mass Effect’s decision-making & paragon/renegade elements thrown in could be awesome. Let’s just hope they do it.
I shall leave you with the trailer for Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium, the game that shall never be. Let’s just hope it turns into something better.

Discuss it on The Shell Case forums

Spartans Vs Space Marines

Those that know me, know that I love the Halo game series. It’s awesome. The story is compelling, the characters are engaging and there’s so much cool that I swear I’ve got cooler just by playing the games. I’ve played the games, I’ve got the encyclopaedia, Halo Legends, and some of the books. I am a fanboy. The Master Chief is my hero.

Equally, I love Space Marines. I’ve been collecting Space Marine in one form or another and reading about their exploits for over 20 years. With the release of Space Marine I decided that I needed to thrash out a debate that has been raging since Halo came out 10 years ago.

Spartans verses Space Marines. Who would win?

I gotta say knowing what I do about both, it’s not as cut and dry as people think. Yes a Space Marine has a bolt gun but in a straight up and down fight, assuming both parties were armed the same, it’d get pretty interesting.

So lets break it down into sections.

Origins
Space Marines were created by the Emperor as the instrument of his will. Unstoppable legions of posthumans created to defeat His foes and unite the galaxy. After the Horus Heresy the Space Marines were broken into Chapters and scattered across the galaxy. At the close of the 41st Millennium the Space Marines are stretched to breaking point in defence of the Imperium of Man. The Space Marines are revered and feared in equal measure by even the most loyal and pious members of Imperial Society. They are death incarnate.

The Spartan program was created in answer to the rising escalation of seditionist activity in the outer colonies of humanities budding empire. Intended to be deployed to essentially crush civil uprisings, their creation represented the darkest day in humanities history. Their first couple of missions against separatists were so devastating that even UNSC Marines would think twice about serving alongside them. When the Covenant War broke out in 2525 the Spartans were re-tasked and were the only military asset that made significant inroads 28 year conflict, of which the Chief was at the forefront of. The chief was, like a Space Marine still in his teens when deployed for his first combat mission.

Psychology
Space Marines are chosen from amongst the greatest warriors of the generation from the recruiting worlds. Often the initiates are teenagers, their bodies young enough to accept the volume of augmentation. Beyond that, however, they undergo a tremendous amount of psycho-indoctrination to make them utterly loyal to the chapter and the emperor. To be unflinching in combat and utterly committed to the cause. And to know no fear.

The Spartan II program, of which John-117 (the Master Chief) was a part, was conducted in secret, 150 children were taken from their homes and replaced with fast-growth clones. The children were then subjected to gruelling physical training and relentless lessons in wargames, tactics, lateral thinking and problem solving. By the end of the training on 33 survived, so invasive and traumatic the augmentations but the result was that Spartans were utterly fearless and incapable of walking away from fight. The primary objective was to win, no matter the personal cost. Duty, and honour was the driving force behind the Spartans. Sound familiar?

There are some striking similarities between Spartans and Space Marines at this point. Both taken from the life they knew and reconditioned into instruments of war, both with a level of emotional immaturity that could lead to disaster should the conditioning ever become unstuck.

Physical Augmentation
Both Space Marines and Spartans undergo physical augmentation. Space Marines have 19 implants, Spartans just 5.
Space Marines are blessed with the ability to filter sound, see over incredible distances, increased muscle density and ossification of the bones. They also boast a second stomach, a third lung (greedy) and the ability to halt any bleeding. A fully augmented Space Marine stands at over 7ft. More so fully clad in Power Armour. Although not all augmentations are list here, because that’s not the pont of the post, a Space Marine can sustain a tremendous amount of damage before it proves fatal. However, it is worth pointing out that severe trauma to the head and/or hearts will still do the job just as it would on anything else.

This image came from the Relic Forums and is just for illustration purposes.

Spartans, although not so heavily altered are still adapted to a formidable level. Spartans have carbdie ceramics overlayed onto their bone structure so although not having a solid ribcage, Spartan bones are all but unbreakable. Muscle density is also considerably increased. The result of these two not only increases the Spartan’s height to 7ft but doubles their mass and weight. These augmentations also allows an un-armoured Spartan to lift three times its own body weight and run at an average of 35mph. In MJOLNIR mark V armour the Master Chief was clocked at 65mph. Cerebral implants also allows a Spartan to react 300% faster than a regular human.

There’s no denying the Space Marines apparent physical superiority but the Spartans ability to lift three times its own body weight, combined with a blistering reaction time still makes the Spartan an impressive foe. Space Marines are fast of course, an in novels are found to be able to match Eldar blow for blow but it’s also something that a Space Marine can’t keep up for long and it is often a Space Marines ferocity and sheer bloody mindedness that wins out rather than his agility.

Amour
Phsyical prowess will only get you so far once the bullets start flying. Space Marine power armour is a layers of ceramite which would be utterly unusable were it not for a series of servos and artificial muscle bundles that not only helps move the armour but further enhances the Space Marines strength and speed. Big, bulky, ornate and designed to withstand staggering amounts of fire, power armour is as much a tool of psychological warfare as it is about protection. Space Marine power armour also grants the wearer autosenses including reactive lenses that will dull in the event of explosions to prevent a Space Marine become disoriented in combat. Power Armour is at its best at long-range/against ranged weapons. It’s layered and curved design makes it adept at turning aside bullets and the ceramite can absorb a great deal of heat whilst protecting its wearer. However in combat the armour, according to canon, suffers a little more. Because of its modular design (for ease of repair) parts of the armour can be torn away by stronger foes and, like MJOLNIR armour does have weak points, although not as many.

Similarly, the MJOLNIR armour is as much about intimidation as it is about keeping the wearer safe, the gold visored helmets making the Spartans faceless and uncaring. In addition to armour plating designed to turn aside bullets and energy weapon blasts, MJOLNIR armour also boasts a rechargeable energy shield capable of absorb repeated bullet and/or energy impacts before collapse. It can also be projected around the hand to make a first strike even more powerful with the potential to overload electrical systems, albeit at the cost of shield collapse. In addition the suit has a gel layer that, when the amour goes into lockdown, stiffens to the point that it is possible for a Spartan to survive a surface impact following a free fall descent with no parachute, from low orbit. Like power armour, MJOLNIR armour enhances speed and physical strength. It also boasts a HUD including health status, weapon ammo levels and a motion tracker. Although there is no denying that Space Marine armour is far more durable than even mark VI MJOLNIR armour, the suit not only increases reaction time but also further enhances strength. A punch from a Spartan in MJOLNIR armour will delivered with 2 tonnes of force which even the most die-hard Space Marine fan must admit, would put a serious dent in power armour.

Combat Performance
Space Marines are not subtle warriors. But at almost 8ft when armoured, there’d be little point in trying to be. One of the main advantages they have against their foe is their size. A Space Marine will charge head long into withering hails of fire. On the surface it would appear that Space Marines are insane but they are driven by faith and a genuine hatred for their foes. A Space Marine does not give up. Once in combat that ferocity is given form. A master at arms with decades, if not centuries, of experience, every movement has purpose and lethality. It is documented a Space Marine can match even the Eldar’s speed but never for prolonged periods of time, a Space Marine having to go for a quick and violent kill to ensure victory. Using the Space Marine game as a guide (which is GW approved and fair as Halo is a video game franchise) a Space Marine’s turn of speed is comparable to a Spartans but I doubt if the speed can be matched consistently. I think, similarly, a Space Marine would need an immediate kill or a Spartan could out manoeuvre him.

Because they lack the same level of protection as a Space Marine, a Spartan must be more cautious but is still capable, when the time is right, to make that daring charge into the fray. This can be assisted by a variety of technology such as bubble shields which is a bit of a cheat but handy none-the-less. With reaction times 600% higher than normal, when in MJOLNIR armour, combined with ample physical enhancement I don’t doubt that a Spartan could harm, if not kill, a Space Marine. Plus with a Spartan possesses a similar singular mindedness which would make him, like a Space Marine, utterly determined to win. More so in the MKIII Spartans who were bred to be psychotic and wouldn’t think twice about spending their lives if it meant victory. I’m taking walk into a room with a nuke strapped to their chest kind of crazy.

Conclusion
I think blow for a blow, in a stand up fight, like a boxing match, a Space Marine would kill a Spartan. Their ferocity and strength would be overwhelming. And although the MJOLNIR armour is, in many ways, more advanced than Power Amour, it doesn’t have the resilience of Power Armour.

However in a combat situation over a warzone I think the playing field would be levelled. A Spartan’s greater agility, especially over rough terrain – remember a Space Marine can hardly stalk through the rubble – coupled with motion trackers and a turn of speed could give a Spartan a certain edge. But I think a Spartan would have to rely on the element of surprise as the Space Marine’s raw power and aggression would be staggering.

So, to conclude; in a fair fight within a cityscape etc, I think the Master Chief could win because it’s the chief and there’s a lot to be said for luck. Plus it’s fair to say the MKII Spartans were pragmatic in the extreme and although were determined to win at all costs they wouldn’t throw their lives away blithely, but were utterly prepared to die if it meant victory. That said, any other Spartan would most likely lose. A MKIII Spartan could probably beat a Space Marine despite being inferior to a MKII in just about every way, mainly because he’d happily blow himself, the Space Marine and everything else up with him.

But at the end of the day, this is all just a bit of fun and more about comparing two future heroes that I love. As the fact is, if a Space Marine and a Spartan ever found themselves face to face they’d recognise a kindred spirit. Plus if we were to lay the time lines over one another, the Spartans could well be the Space Marine’s forebears.

Space Marine – The Full Review

Following my first look review a couple of weeks ago, I thought it best to write a follow-up now I finally have my grubby little mits on the full game. Now, I’m going to break from my usual ramblings and try to do this in a structured fashion to give you, my loyal readers, a balanced opinion. I’ll break it down in to 40kishness, Gameplay & Graphics.

40kishness
To explain; I’ve been doing the Games Workshop hobby for 22 years and for about 20 of them have been immersed in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. And 8 years of that I have been collecting Ultramarines. I have two full companies in fact. Not that I’m obsessive or anything.

So ’40kishness’ is a very important to me as there’s been a few Warhammer 40,000 titles over the years and although they’ve had various levels of success – the most successful up to this point being the Dawn of War series – and for me they’ve never quite got the 40kishness right. They’ve come pretty damn close, but it never felt right.

Space Marine had some pretty high expectations to meet. Not just for the look of the Space Marines, to how they moved, the weapons, the buildings. Pretty much everything. And, all things considered Relic did a pretty good job. The Space Marines especially look awesome. The world they created is very loyal to the Warhammer 40,000 universe. My problem with Dawn of War was that the environments always felt a little improvised. An after thought almost. But in Space Marine the environments are well thought out and massive. The sense of scale is there in spades. High vaulted ceilings, cathedral-like chambers and massive open spaces. The other thing that really impressed me was the little details. Elements of the plastic scenery kits popping up on walls and consoles. The door controls match those on the kits too. The aquila stamped on everything is a nice touch too.

The plot is suitably 40kish too. Forgeworld comes under Ork invasion, 3 Space Marines are dispatched. Between them much stuff is broken. I really liked the fact that only 3 marines were initially sent seeing as a battle company could reclaim a star system. It felt like the person holding the pen really understood the universe he or she was writing about. And I’m grateful for that fact. They also managed to capture the menace of both the Orks and the Chaos factions. And neither one felt comical, something Dawn of War can’t claim.

There’s a couple of conventions don’t quite work for me. How you get new weapons is daft as, as the game goes on, discarded weapons are scattered about to allow you to re-arm. One or the other if you please Mr Games Developer. Also the ability to carry 4 weapons s a perculiar departure from the current 2 weapon convention of just about every shooter around. It allows you to have a variety of weapons to choose from, but as weapons are scattered about the levels there’s really no point in forcing players to make a choice because there will never be a part of the game that a bolter won’t get you through it, let alone a plasma gun or lascannon.

Gameplay
As you’re hopefully aware Space Marine is a third person shooter, a first for a Games Workshop game. And it works rather well, allowing the player to view the entire landscape. I will say, though, that the camera isn’t always a team player and its angle will mean that sometimes you get stuck on the tiniest piece of rubble that you can’t quite see or, when the combat gets really nasty, the camera will focus on Captain Titus’ chest. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a terribly heroic and manly chest but I’d much rather see the thing trying to cave my skull in.

One of the biggest draws of this game was the boast that the flow between ranged and melee combat was seamless. And it is. Wonderfully, brutally, violently so. In fact, whether by design or by accident, the gameplay captures the nature of war in the Warhammer 40,000 universe perfectly. It’s an exhilarating thing; standing your ground whilst hordes of Orks rush you. If you’re lucky you’ll manage to empty 2 clips into those green-skinned bastards before they’re amongst you and then it’s down to your wits and how hard you can hammer the X button. Which is awesome.

Space Marine also features execution moves which are utterly spectacular and a key part of the way the game is played. As you take damage, and you will, you can perform executions, by stunning your opponent then kicking seven shades of shit out of him, to regain your health. The intention being to force you into brutal melee. The only other way is to unleash your ‘fury’ which is essentially like a combo-metre and filled by killing things. Once activated you become faster and more devastating than just about anything. It also regenerates your health. I did find, though, that it’s so rarely needed and I find myself reluctant to use it unless absolutely necessary just in case something bigger than me rocked up. But when it happens it is an insane amount of fun. I managed to take on 3 Nobz at once whilst under the influence of fury. I actually felt bad for them. The last one to fall I actually managed to stun then pin it to the flow with my power axe then twist its head off its neck. I shit you not, I’ve been playing video games for 27 years and that was the single greatest moment of gaming I’ve ever had.

The toys that Space Marine brings to the party gives you plenty to smile about, including a jump pack that allows you to deliver a ground shattering drop attack, and a thunder hammer. And yes it is as awesome as you imagine it is. The choice of ranged weapons will also get most 40k players hot and hard; from the trusty bolter to the meltagun, which literally evaporates things. The heavy bolter and autocannon are also a silly amount of fun. I now know what ‘drunk with power’ means. Plus there’s no shortage of enemies to point them at. But this actually brings me to my first irritation. The damage mechanic when it comes to ranged combat seems a little broken. Now this is either down to the developers trying to make the game challenging or having not read the Ork codex. Ranged fire does an alarming amount of damage to your plucky Space Marine which is strange for a game that encourages you to run head long into the fray because by the time you get there you’re often in no fit state to do anything. The reality is standing your ground, often times behind the huge amounts of cover (considering it isn’t a cover based shooter) trying to pick off the ranged fuckers leaving you clear to get stuck in. Which actually gets kinda dull, and if it weren’t for the plot moving things forward the game would get old very quickly.

Considering this is a game for fans the ranged combat lets it down a little bit. For example, you can take an Ork Boy down with two bolt rounds to the head. A Tank Busta, which is no different to a regular Ork other than its armament , can take half a magazine to drop. I could forgive the game if it applies to just ‘Ard Boyz but it doesn’t. And considering the frequency of the Tank Bustas and the number of rockets they fire, it’s a pain in the arse. I was also eagerly awaiting the use of the lascannon in the hope that I’d get the opportunity to blow up vehicles and the like but it’s used primarily as a sniper rifle which is as stupid as it is disappointing. That’s not to say I haven’t used it repeatedly during play but it’s an easy option and, because of its power, you find yourself taking it over the other weapons available.

To be fair the weapons, generally are really satisfying to use. The tremendous amounts of blood produced by a bolt shell going through someones head is quite rewarding in a depraved sort of way but you can’t help but thrive on it. The sheer amount of destruction you can unleash on your foes is intoxicating. And because of the execution moves you can perform giving you those often game saving health boosts you feel as invincible as you should as a Space Marine and something so important to capture to make this game a success. A Space Marine can sustain huge amounts of damage to their bodies before they die. Add a fucking massive suit of power armour over the top of that and you have a post human that can put their fist through tank armour. If you’re going to go striding through a war-torn world with a fire arm that fires mass reactive ammunition you need to feel like a double hard bastard. And Space Marine really delivers on that expectation.

Where it does fall a bit flat is the aforementioned glitchy engine so you will get stuck on the seemingly harmless bits of detritus or the area of effect for the cover you’re standing behind will extend past it so your precious lascannon shot hits a solid wall of nothing instead of the target the scope is telling you is under the cross hairs. I discarded a spent heavy bolter and it became an immovable, impassable object but a fellow Space Marine was able to walk right through a solid metal container. And that’s the real disappointment of the game. You have two Space Marines follow you around for the duration of the game. In theory they are just as fast, just as skilled and just as deadly as you. But they’re not. They’re rubbish. I could live with the fact that they kill nothing, ever, if only they’d use themselves as human shields because they’re immune to every single form of damage. And you can’t help but be resentful of that. Every time a grenade gets tossed at your feet you have to run in the opposite direction like a little bitch (and it will happen a lot) but your sub-ordinates stand there and take it like men, staring gormlessly at you. Presumably wondering how the hell you made it to captain.

Graphics
In a word? Beautiful. Pretty much everything that moves and shoots has been so loving created. The Space Marines themselves look incredible. If I’m honest, Space Marine is how the Ultramarines movie should have looked. The attention to detail on the armour, the faces, how they move, how they hold their gun when they sprint has all been so carefully considered and translates through to the gameplay. You feel as massive and as powerful as you should.

Similarly, the Orks are loping, brutal beasts and they, in fairness steal the show. Orks in previous Games Workshop games looked rubbish. Exaggerated jaws, spikey teeth that looked like they’d been drawn by children. In Space Marine the Orks look real. Relic has really thought about how these creatures, based on the Games Workshop’s realisation of them, would move and fight. But their features are amazingly animated.

Nothing that moves in this game will disappoint you. Even the wisps of sand caught in the wind look lovely. To be fair, the buildings, rubble, debris, sand, pipes, Roks, etc are all beautifully realised, it’s an incredible environment to behold and encourages you to explore, which is just as well as you’ll never find all the Servo Skulls if you don’t.

In the interests of balance, there’s a couple of little bits that disappoint, like the Adeptus Mechanicus seal on the walls just being a graphic rather than a 3-dimensional polygon structure. It’s a small niggle but it’s just a shame when things look better from a distance. Generally though, the world looks as it should. Knackered. Everything is broken, torn down, burnt, crumbling or in a state of decay and it looks brilliant. Especially when it constrasts to clear skies and the sun shining in the sky. It’s a slightly twisted contrast but it works and works really really well.

In Conclusion
Space Marine really is an excellent game. Yes it has a few niggles and you can often find your arrogant sense of immortality challenged by a shoota boy but not, strangely, by a Chaos Havoc with a plasma cannon, but what Space Marine is an enormous amount of fun and the first game that has successfully captured the incredible universe that the Games Workshop has created around the Warhmmer 40,000 game.

The combat is fast, visceral and enough of a challenge that you’ll thrive on your successes. Especially when you take on two dozen Orks at once and come out the other side drenched in blood and a little battered but utterly unbowed. I’d actually go so far as to say that Space Marine is quite a special game because it represents a massive leap forward not just for gaming by for Games Workshop’s evolution and its video game projects in the future. This will be the benchmark.

It’s not perfect. The little glitches can irritate and I’m not yet convinced of the replay value as finding all the servo skulls isn’t enough to make you slug your way through that war-torn world all over again. However, the totally bonkers level of action and combat will.

Were I the kind of person to give a game a score I’d give it a solid 8 out of 10 and I’ll end to say this; if you love 40k buy this game. If you don’t love 40k buy this game anyway because you won’t find a more action packed gaming experience anywhere else.

Space Marine – A Review

Well, it’s finally here. After months and months of waiting, Space Marine is about to be released to an unsuspecting world. I have to speak in such generalities because only something like 1 in 90 people play or are in some way involved in the Games Workshop hobby. When you think about it, that’s actually quite a lot of people. But still leaves a shed load of folk that don’t really understand, let alone appreciate what Space Marines are.

Obviously, over the years there have been various things that have been called ‘Space Marines’ mainly because they’re marines. In Space. But, like it or loathe it, the Games Workshop conceived the original and definitive Space Marine. And no the Master Chief isn’t a Space Marine and that’s a debate for an entirely different day.

Now, the plot of Space Marine is almost incidental. Orks/Chaos have invaded a world and the Ultramarines are sent to thwart their general evilness. Yes it’s a word. The fact is that the hype around Space Marine has been built up around two things – the brutal, unrelenting combat and the sheer mind binding level of violence that ensures during said combat.

I’ve only played the demo which was released today on Xbox Live, but I can vouch for both the brutal combat and the mind bending violence. Had I not spent the last 22 years immersed in this grim and dark universe it’s entirely possible I’d be sat in the corner of my living room, rocking backwards & forwards like a trauma victim.

Graphically the game is rich, detailed and ‘feels’ like a Warhammer 40,000 game, although there’s still an abundance of cover for a game that isn’t cover based. Although, strictly speaking, your character and fellow Ultramarines can make ‘use’ of the cover it’s more of an obstacle than a help.

Which brings me on to combat. The fine (if disturbed) minds behind Space Marine have boasted that there are more ways to kill enemies in Space Marine than any other game. This I can believe. The combat is smooth as silk be it ranged or up close and switching between the two is instantaneous. You feel as fast as a Space Marine should. The feeling of power, not to mention that sense of utter Chaos thanks to the hordes of targets you can be presented with, is quite intoxicating.

I’m also kind of on board with health only being regenerated through ‘Fury’ – a state of primal battle lust that’s achieved through killing folk – or through performing executions. However it can get a little unstuck as to survive the attentions of rampaging Nobz (it’s short for Nobles so stop giggling at the back of the class) you have to unleash your fury. Which is all well and good but it means that you can find yourself saving up your Fury like an overly anxious child in a toy store too worried to spend his pocket-money in case they find a better toy.

But, considering the developers deliberately shied away from cover based combat and the fact the power armour is staggeringly resilient, it feels a little too easy to take damage. Set on normal it took me four attempts to survive the big scrap at the end of the first demo level. And no, it’s not because I suck.

Granted it means you rely on a combined strategy of grenade throws, carefully placed shots, indiscriminate fire and the good old-fashioned hack’n’slash approach. It works well. The grenade launcher, if your aim is good, is highly effective at stalling an assault, giving you and your team enough time to get into position. The close combat is as chaotic as one would expect although I sometimes felt that strikes on both parties weren’t making contact yet damage was still being inflicted.

I can say with absolute confidence that Space Marine is really quite special because it makes no excuses. It doesn’t attempt to hide or tone down the violence. It doesn’t try to justify itself by saying the Orks are bad so they have it coming. It doesn’t need to because their barbaric appearance and nature makes it clear enough. This game simply says ‘I am War’ and it never fails to remind you of the fact. This game, when it hits the shelves in a couple of weeks time is going to be stellar. Plain and simple.