Warhammer 40K: Space Marine ImpressionsS

I woke up today with one mission in mind: get to THQ's booth, and check out Warhammer 40K: Space Marine. Mission. Accomplished.

While I couldn't get my hands on the game - it's still early, early days - I did get to check out an extended showreel of in-game action, some of it featured in the game's first trailer, most of it not.

The game is an action RPG for the 360 & PS3. And it looks like the emphasis is on action. There were several scenes featuring dozens of enemies on-screen at once, with small squads of Space Marines (you of course being one of them) fighting them off with a combination of ranged and melee attacks.

I saw Marine layouts being customised (you can add stuff like jetpacks), finishing moves performed as part of combos, and special attacks that could wipe out 10-15 Orks at a time.

While the footage only showed Space Marines and Orks going at it, and were the only races in the game confirmed to us by Relic, a larger battle montage towards the end of the clip showed glimpses of Tyranids, so don't be surprised to see them in the final game too.

Oh, and as well as Tyranids, there was also a Titan lumbering around blowing stuff up. Which should excite the 40K fanboys in the house.

Two things really stood out to me by the time we were done: one being the amount of action on display, and the other the amount of pomp and ceremony the license was being treated to. While the Dawn of War games could only briefly go for cinematic thrills in their intro sequences, this game looks packed with moments of real gravitas, epic scores and brooding cinematics punctuating the action and helping bring a little of the universe's storied colour and character to the game.

While there's still lingering doubts as to how the combat will actually feel - after all, it's not like Relic are that experiences in the Action/RPG field - from what I saw today, the game definitely looks on track to deliver a Warhammer 40K title that shows humanity's endless war from a more intimate perspective than strategy games can manage.