With the release of WWE 13 just around the corner, here’s a banquet of screenshots to feast upon.
*Click the thumbnails to bring up larger versions.
Awakened by the End of Days, Death, the most feared of the legendary Four Horsemen, embarks upon a quest to restore mankind, and redeem his brother’s name. Along the way, the Horseman discovers that there are far worse things than an earthly Apocalypse, and that an ancient grudge may threaten all of Creation . . .
In the past week, the news headlines have looked pretty bad for developer/publisher THQ, collectively painting a bad future for the company that only recently (November of last year) released Saints Row The Third to critical success. The THQ president and board of directors have taken pay cuts, they are cutting more and more jobs, NASDAQ has threatened to delist THQ and they’ve also pulled out of the children’s market for games. There’s more to be found, but you get the idea.
Since the writing on the wall started forming up in big, bold letters in the last two months, various publications have been offering up their opinions on where THQ went wrong and I’m not going to really go into that other than to say that I tend to agree with the general consensus that has formed; poor management with a side of uDraw under performing sales.Personally, I consider THQ to be a big name in the gaming industry. Sure, they aren’t really on the level of say Activision or Electronic Arts but they are a name, I think at least, that most people are aware of. So with saying that, they certainly aren’t the first ‘big’ name in the industry to have suffered as a result of poor management.
Atari were probably the first company that I can think of that suffered from poor management, among other things, like say this. The Atari of modern times is certainly a different picture from back then, when not only did they develop and publish games but consoles as well. There was also Sega, though I can’t say if their failures were down to management or not, after poor performance by the Dreamcast (Sega’s last console) their focus shifted to third party software.
What can THQ do to turn around things? Well that’s hard to say. They currently have a gold mine of licenses, just waiting to for lack of a better term, be exploited. And they have what is, in my opinion, a good core of games going forward. I personally don’t like the Saints Row franchise, but it is increasingly popular.
A Saints Row 4 seems inevitable, provided THQ don’t go under and I imagine that it will perform even better than the third installment of the series. I am a massive fan however, of the Dawn of War franchise, which utilises Games Workshop’s intellectual property of Warhammer 40k. As far as RTS games go, I’d much rather sit down and play a game of Dawn of War than Starcraft 2.
There is also the WWE franchise of games (previously Smackdown vs Raw) which I imagine to be mildly successful, depending on how much the WWE license actually costs. God knows I buy them every year just about, despite having been average at best now for the past few iterations (a slew of bugs every year and little actual improvement are plaguing the series, in my opinion).
Ultimately, sitting on gold mines means nothing, if the company isn’t managed properly. So unless things turn around, we could see them either going under completely or being bought out by another company. I especially hope the former doesn’t happen, but if the latter does, I would hope that those (licensed) games that I do enjoy are treated well.
Fans of the Last Stand mode in Dawn of War II: Retribution, who have been vocal about the lack of updates compared to the multi-player section, can now rejoice as Relic revealed that the survival-style mode will be receiving a new hero. The Tau Commander will join the roster, adorning the battle suits they are famous for this October the 20th, for $9.99 on Steam. In addition to the Last Stand DLC, there are several updates for multi-player on the way as well; The Death Corps of Kreig Imperial Guard multi-player chapter pack and a multi-player chapter pack for the Chaos Word Bearers.
Will you be buying the new hero? If not, why? Let us know in the comments section below.
Before I can talk about the game, it is essential that you first know what exactly a Space Marine is. The Space Marines are genetically engineered super soldiers, created to conquer the galaxy and defend Mankind from any and all threats. They stand at 7 foot tall, are mountains of muscle, capable of crushing a normal man’s chest with a solitary punch. They have redundant organs and can put themselves into a self-induced coma to regenerate near lethal wounds. They are fearless. A single squad of Space Marines can succeed where hundreds of Guardsmen fail. Now you know.. we can begin.
The campaign sees us in control of Captain Titus of the Ultramarines, the poster pin-up boys of all Space Marine Chapters, accompanied by Sergeant Sidonius and Leandros. This solitary squad of Ultramarines are dispatched to Forge World Graia (Forge Worlds are worlds specifically designed for mass industrial production of tools of war for the Imperium) to secure a Titan (a massive war machine), from the clutches of a massive Ork invasion that has occurred on the planet.
The Orks have largely overrun the planetary defences by the time the Ultramarines arrive on the scene and so Captain Titus and co must use unconventional methods when they arrive in the middle of a space battle between Graia’s defence fleet and the Ork ships. This is where you, the player, take control of Captain Titus who elects to jump pack out of their Thunderbird onto an Ork ship below, encountering one of the main nemesis’ while down there.
From as soon as you land on that Ork Ship and the hordes bear down on you, you get to experience perhaps the best aspect of this game (for me anyway) that it has to offer. Warhammer 40k: Space Marine conveys the sense of being a Space Marine superbly well. By this, I mean you literally feel like you are a Space Marine as you play the game. Powerful, fearless and uncompromising, you butcher hordes of lesser Orks like it is just combat training for a veteran like Captain Titus. As the campaign progresses, it only reinforces this feeling even more as the Ultramarines display their aptitude for completing their objective no matter what is thrown their way.
Then there are the scattered encounters with Imperial Guard remnants on the planet as you go from mission to mission. The way they treat the Ultramarines with such reverence and awe, going so far as to refer to them as “lords”. Or standing next to them and truly grasping how a Space Marine in power armour measures up to the smaller guardsmen. And they look fragile in comparison. It is probably because of this feeling that the game imparts, that leads to my next point.
Your companions appear mighty useless in comparison and seem only to be along for the ride as plot devices. There aren’t too many occasions where you really wish that they could fight better but when you do hit those spots, you’ll be cursing the Emperor under your breath (you’d be a heretic otherwise!). Of course, that potentially creates scenarios where you could progress without lifting a finger through some missions but hey, I want my finely tuned battle brothers to be competent too (just not as competent as me, naturally!).
In terms of the environment and landscape, I generally liked the majority that I traversed through (and this translates to multi-player) but I feel like they lacked a bit of the ‘oomph’ factor. A little too ‘cartoony’ and it generally felt painted on with the lack of destructible objects etc (there were a few here and there). In terms of length when talking about the game, it is about as long as what you’d expect these days from a game that is perhaps intended to be multi-player focused (such as First Person Shooters and well, this game). You can probably chug through the campaign in about 6 to 8 hours, maybe allowing more time on higher difficulty settings.
And with a campaign that short, the story suffers just as much. It’s a fairly bare bones affair if you just power through the hordes of Orks and other foes unrelentingly. And if you have played some of Relic’s other titles using the Warhammer 40k IP then perhaps you’ll be a little bit disappointed by that. I liked the story itself and thought it had a lot of potential to build off though. There are servo skulls scattered throughout the stages though, that contain short voice recordings from various characters, which help to give you a better picture of the story and how things have played out in other places where the Ultramarines are not.
The Blood Ravens, the Space Marine chapter focused on in Relic’s Dawn of War series, make a cameo appearance as well as the Black Templars – who are probably one of my favourite Space Marine chapters – at some point in the campaign, as well. I think that ultimately the campaign can be described as a training exercise for those who want to take the game further into the multi-player realms. Which is where we head next.
Now that you’ve graduated Space Marine academy, it’s time for you to move onto the real fight and deliver the Emperor’s Fury unto thy enemy. One of the first things I noticed about the multi-player of Space Marine while playing it, was just how balanced it came off. You play as either a Space Marine or a Chaos Space Marine, which have no meaningful (in the context of balance) differences between the two sides, except the modelling and armour customisation and the classes have different names.
You’ve got your Tactical Marines, who are the jack of all trades but master of none. Assault marines, Space Marines who specialise in melee and come standard with jump packs so they can jet around the battlefield and close the distance between them and their enemies. And finally Devastators, Space Marines who excel at range and have access to some powerful heavy weaponry. For the forces of Chaos, nothing changes as I mentioned. Raptors are your Assault Marine class for example. Where applicable, the weapons are a little different between the two sides too, example being the Stalker Bolter (for Space Marines) and the Demon Eye Bolter (for Chaos Space Marines).
As is becoming a rather common theme amongst a lot of multi-player oriented games, such as first person shooters and third person action like Space Marine, you will gain experience for doing various things online like winning or completing challenges. And every time you level up, you will unlock more options for your classes that will enable to customise your load outs more. But perhaps the coolest thing about multi-player in Space Marine is that you can customise your model, swapping various armour pieces and changing the colour to create your own chapters or war bands. There are quite a few options available and as you level up, you’ll unlock more pieces to play with.
Space Marine shipped with two modes for online multi-player, Seize the Ground (A domination-style game mode where teams have to capture and hold points on the map to gain points. The first to the designated value, wins) and secondly the obligatory team death match mode. Although I spent a fair bit of time checking out team death match, I wasn’t entirely interested in it – I mean, who hasn’t played team death match before, am I right? So I played Seize the Ground more. I really, really wanted to see how those 3 classes would play out in the objective style mode.
As I mentioned before, I felt like the game was fairly well-balanced – there didn’t seem to be any clear winners in the general sense once you got the fairly easy to learn mechanics down pat. And the armour customisation was awesome. Unfortunately, the multi-player just didn’t hold up in lasting appeal to me. Between the two modes and a small selection of maps, there was only really enough to keep the level grinders interested over pro-longed periods. The inclusion of the Orks as a multi-player option might have been nice (with abundance of modelling already done due to the campaign) and could have thrown up some interesting three-way battles and the inclusion of more game modes in particular wouldn’t have gone astray.
One thing I was hoping for and I think the developers missed the beat on for launch, was the inclusion of a survival mode perhaps similar to Last Stand mode that features in later games of the Dawn of War series. There will be a mode called ‘Exterminatus’ coming out sometime next month that is along those lines, as it wasn’t in the launch version, I cannot really give kudos (or otherwise) for its inclusion until well.. it’s included!
This ain’t no Gears of War. It doesn’t play like Gears of War. The only similarity between this and Gears of War is that the game uses a third person camera. Captain Titus would beat the living snot out of Marcus Fenix without breaking a sweat. If you don’t understand the reference, its okay. At some point, some folks decided to make a statement saying that Space Marine was a Gears of War clone (among other ridiculous things). Moving along…
Space Marine is an enjoyable experience. Although it didn’t hold my interest for as long as I hoped it would, the experiences it gave me were generally positive. It is a game that is bristling with unrealised potential, particularly in the multi-player arena. Given that the Warhammer 40k universe is one of the more rich Sci-fi themes out there, the campaign could have been a lot better also.
Warhammer 40k: Space Marine was on display like so many other games as expected at E3 2011 and although we’ve seen a fair bit of chainsword Ork slaughtering, this was our first taste of some varied gameplay showing off one feature in particular, bullet time. We also catch a glimpse of the chainsword, bolter and plasma gun in action – staples of any respected Space Marine’s arsenal of Ork slaughtering weapons. The hordes of Orks the Ultramarine has to face at the start look rather bland and same same (getting really technical there) but there’s plenty of blood being spilt to forgive it. At least in this instance.
We also get a look at the HUD, with weapon ammo down in the bottom right corner and an Ultramarines symbol in the left. As you carve your way through enemies, the Ultramarines symbol will fill up, allowing the Space Marine to unleash bullet time which slows down time, giving you a chance to accurately place shots in what is otherwise a hectic combat scenario.
Dawn of War 2: Retribution is a stand-alone expansion to Dawn of War 2, and like the previous games, is set in Games Workshop’s fictional scifi universe, Warhammer 40k. Retribution heralds in some pretty big (in my opinion) changes over it’s predecessors in Dawn of War 2 and Dawn of War 2 Chaos Rising. The game is powered by the Essence Engine, which is also developed by Relic Entertainment, originally for the Company of Heroes series.
Dawn of War 2: Retribution, is set 10 years after the events of Chaos Rising, when the Blood Ravens under Gabriel Angelos’ command slew the demon Ulkair. One could be forgiven for thinking that the sub-sector Aurelia’s problems were over after that final battle but in reality, the problems were only just beginning. More and more chaos incursions continued to plague the sub-sector, secretly master minded by Blood Raven’s Chapter Master, Azariah Kyras. The Imperial Guard were sent to reinforce the region but even their efforts were in vain. Many themselves turning to the forces of Chaos over the years.
To make matters worse, the Ork known as Kaptain Bluddflagg and his Ork pirates the Freebooterz are pillaging the sub-sector. Eldar of the Craftworld led by Autarch Kayleth are present seeking a prophecy. The remants of the Hive fleet Leviathan that plagued the sub-sector prior to events of Chaos Rising are rebuilding in an attempt to contact the Hive Mind and consume the worlds once and for all. Blood Ravens loyal only to their corrupt Chapter Master Azariah Kyras are making their presence known and finally, Eliphas the Inheritor has returned, to make good on his promise to Abaddon the Despoiler to finally annihilate the Blood Ravens.
There is only one response now that the Holy Inquisition can take to deal with the Sub-sector. Exterminatus. The complete and utter destruction of every world in the sub-sector, taking every life, loyalist, Xenos or other in the process. To this end, the fleet of Holy Inquisition under the leadership of Inquisitor Adrastia and supported by Lord General Castor and the 8th Cadian Regiment have arrived to perform the Exterminatus.
This is where the player comes in. Unlike the previous incarnations of Dawn of War 2, there are multiple single player campaigns, one for each of the races. Each campaign has a set goal to perform before the Exterminatus can be completed by the Inquisition. The Tyranids, led by a Hive Lord are seeking to reconnect with the Hive Mind and consume the sub-sector. The chaos campaign centers around Eliphas the Inheritor trying to destroy the Blood Ravens once and for all. Captain Diomedes is front and center for the Space Marine campaign, as he tries to halt the Exterminatus and (begrudgingly at the start) expose and defeat his corrupted Chapter Master, Azariah Kyras.
[one_half last=”no”][gameinfo title=”Game Info” game_name=”Dawn of War 2: Retribution” developers=”Relic Entertainment” publishers=”THQ” platforms=”PC” genres=”Real time strategy” release_date=”March 1st, 2011″][/one_half]
The orks, under the command of Kaptain Bluddflagg are motived by the prospect of fighting and strangely enough, the hat of Inquisitor Adrastia. The Imperial Guard campaign sees you in control of Lord General Castor and the Inquisitor herself, in an attempt to bring about an end to the conflict that does not result in complete exterminatus. Autarch Kayleth’s primary directive was to prevent the destruction of an ancient craftworld but things change. Ultimately, the campaigns do share a basic enough story and each and everyone starts on the same location and will finish on the same location as the others.
The campaign mixes elements of RTS and RPG as Dawn of War has done in the past. That is to say, while it is largely an RTS in the sense the word, the RPG elements come into play with your hero characters. Leveling them up and acquiring, then equipping them with war gear. This is not a bad thing though, it feels vaguely familiar having done one or two campaigns of the Warhammer 40k tabletop game in my time. As I mentioned, the campaigns tend to follow the same basic story and as such, you’ll be visiting many of the same stages (particularly in the advancement of the main plot) with few changes (the faction you fight may differ but this is not always the case).
As has been the case in the past, optional side missions will become available as you progress that while not necessary to the overall plot, does add opportunities for more war gear and unit upgrades, as well as interesting plot additions. Upon completing a mission now, you are given a choice of one of three upgrades you want to acquire in addition to anything else you obtained during the mission, a small feature albeit one I like. As with most stories, there a few plot holes, here and there but nothing too offending. For me, one of the best things about the campaigns however, is the dialog. Relic Entertainment having been working with the Warhammer 40k theme for some time now and it shows. The Orks are particularly amusing and the experience overall feels authentic.
Unfortunately, Dawn of War 2: Retribution doesn’t add any new multiplayer game types to the mix, but it still offers several improvements over Chaos Rising. Perhaps the most notable addition is the inclusion of the Imperial Guard faction in skirmish modes. Basic Imperial Guardsman infantry squads, while fragile, are extremely useful units because they can fix allied vehicles, as well as create their own heavy cover and construct automated turrets. Each of the Guard’s hero units can deploy bunkers that, in addition to sheltering troops, may be upgraded to heal nearby vehicles or infantry.
Additionally, the bunkers may be booby-trapped, just in case the enemy captures them. While these bonuses make the Imperial Guard excellent at locking down an area, they have also been blessed with awesome tanks like the Baneblade, which is a behemoth adorned with at least a half-dozen turrets. Thus, the Imperial Guard faction is incredibly useful in team games; it’s capable of both holding strategic points in the early game and contributing awesome firepower once it’s time to crush the enemy under gigantic tank tracks.
Additional improvements, and perhaps my most favourite, is the scuttling of the Games for Windows Live service (which annoyed me to no end in Chaos Rising being a console player as well) in favour of Steam alone. Furthermore, all six factions and 30-plus skirmish maps are playable regardless of whether you own Dawn of War 2 or Chaos Rising, an enticing point for those who skipped over the previous two games. Last stand mode comes with a new and more difficult map, as well as the inclusion of an Imperial Guard hero (The Lord General). You are able to port over your character progress from Chaos Rising. Last Stand is probably my favourite multi-player mode so far, however I do wish that Relic would have included more variations in hero choice between the factions. Personally if I had the choice, the Imperial Guard hero would of been the Inquisitor and not the Lord General.
Cooperative campaigns have also been improved by allowing both players to build new units during levels and rewarding you with special war gear for helping a friend through the campaign.
Retribution remains as visually stunning as its predecessors. The environments are still largely destructible, and watching your tanks demolish an enemy’s cover never gets old. Individual units have excellent animations, and the sight of a Space Marine turning an Ork’s head into a fine red paste with a giant warhammer is truly beautiful. The maps sometimes get a little repetitive because they have a tendency to be littered with the ruins of destroyed tanks, craters, and burned-out buildings. Maps set on the pristine jungle planet Typhon really stand out in comparison, with its waterfalls, rivers, and lush canopies showing the potential beauty to be found in Retribution. Unfortunately, it did require me to have a play on my friend’s gaming PC to get the best experience as my PC can only run it on the lowest settings and even then, it has a little trouble every now and again.
In recent times, I think there have been generally some poor expansions that haven’t represented much in the way of value for money. Each campaign offers anywhere between 5 and 10 hours worth of game play (dependent on whether you do the optional missions) plus the multi-player aspects. Every faction is available to you both in single and multi-player, the attention to detail is great, the voice acting and scripts are wonderful (except maybe the Space Marines that were.. typically a little on the bland side, I suppose) among other things overshadow it’s few failings. The Orks (and I’ve never been a big fan of the greenskins) are a particular highlight. This isn’t just a stand-alone expansion, it’s a great entry point into the series for new players and the best iteration yet. See over page two for the minimum and recommended system requirements.
The over the top, arcade WWE wrestling game is set to hit the store shelves soon but who is in it? Let’s find out.
That’s all we know for now, there’s still 8 spots in the roster to be revealed. Think you know who it is? Why not let us know your guesses?
Be sure to check back for when we reveal the remaining 8.