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Warhammer 40K: Space Marine: The Demo

Posted by Asif on September 6th, 2011

This is actually pretty tame.

The menu screen of the Space Marine demo shows a space marine shooting and maiming orcs in a seamless loop. This is a pretty good description of the actual game. It’s an ultra-violence feedback loop – moments of calm, punctuated with an intense battle with dozens of enemies, where ripping off an orc’s face in the most disturbing way possible is not only encouraged but rewarded. Then it starts again from the top. Sure, orcs are living creatures with families and mortgages, but they also spew blood in firework-like displays of gore. The second factor is more important if you’re in a brigade of all-white space marines fighting the green-skinned menace. They’re taking our jobs or something. I don’t know. I didn’t follow the plot at all, but these orcs probably deserve it, as usual.

I’ve had a pretty rigid stance against orcs in games, mostly because every goddamn game has orcs in it. It turns out that my problem had less to do with orcs and more to do with being tired of hitting orcs with swords, unless that sword is also a chainsaw. That’s one of your weapons in Space Marine: a chainsaw sword. As far as violence against orcs goes, this is some disturbing violence I can get behind. Between that and filling their horrible heads full of bullets, then watching the arterial spray cover my space marine’s comically large body armor, I can’t remember why I hated orcs in the first place. I mean, I remember, but it’s hard to continue hating an orc once you’ve separated his torso from his legs, as well as the torsos of his four drinking buddies, with a single swipe of a chainsaw sword. I guess it’s a love-hate relationship.

The abundant violence is satisfying because it’s ridiculous, each stroke of your chainsaw sword rewarded with a joyous celebration of explosive gore. Each kill also fills up your “fury” meter. Rather than fill up a rage meter by taking damage, Space Marine rewards you for not sucking. The subtext here seems to be that killing orcs makes you angrier, until you get so angry you want to kill orcs even harder. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but if it means killing more orcs, I guess I’m cool with it.

The full game is out today. I’m not sure if the ultra-violence feedback loop will hold up over the course of several hours, but for twenty-five minutes it holds up great. The demo is absolutely worth the non-purchase. I recommend it if you like orcs or hate orcs. The game builds bridges between both groups through incredible violence. It’s the kind of peace-making any dictator can get behind.

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