If there’s one thing Warhammer is famous for it’s the fact that everything takes place from above, as though your hovering over the action inside a low flying helicopter. The table top game, played with the little hand-painted models, as well as the popular Dawn of War series subscribe to this perspective wholeheartedly; allowing for strategic, tactical gameplay in which thinking a few moves ahead is essential. So, sitting and watching a seven foot tall super-soldier (read: Space Marine), clad in armour seemingly designed to fit a genetic freak made up of one part Arnie and one part Shaq, from an over-the-shoulder 3rd-person viewpoint is initially a shock to the system.
It’s a shock because it’s simultaneously original and familiar. It’s original in the sense that we’ve not seen the Warhammer universe depicted in such an intimate manner onscreen before now, and yet familiar in that it reminds you somewhat of Marcus Fenix and his days out with a certain Locust horde. In fact, if you have only a passing knowledge of Gears of War, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Warhammer 40k: Space Marine is part of the same series, or at least from the same developer. The epic locations, overwhelming fire power and enemies that turn from flesh and blood organisms to merely flesh and blood evoke strong memories of Epic Games’ shooter.
Aesthetic similarities aside though, Space Marine is a very different proposition. The story, written by a new THQ scripting team, centres around an ‘Imperial Forge World’ (a planet sized war factory) that has come under attack from an army of Orcs hell-bent on capturing the valuable military technology. It’s your job, as part of the Space Marine force sent in to halt the Orc advance, to capture certain key locations and rescue an ‘Inquisitor’, who has been developing top secret weapons, and mustn’t fall into enemy hands.