Sep 072011

The rather special Collector’s Edition of Space Marine, including soundtrack cd, art book, cards & purity seal… Ah, pay day is only 22 days away now…


Editor’s progress:

Well, I’ve managed to complete one of the levels on the downloaded demo; the Inquisitor level. This level sees your Space Marines planet-side on the invaded Forge World. Captain Titus, voiced by Mark Strong, discovers a servo-skull (a floating mechanical skull) trying to relay a message in vain to fallen Imperial Guardsmen (gruesomely strewn about). On scanning the marines, the skull shows its secrets… Inquisitor Drogan is under siege somewhere within the manufactorum, where the marines have landed handily, and he needs help. He has a secret weapon that he doesn’t want to fall into the hands of the Ork invaders.

So on we go with some thick n’ fast action: Titus and his two colleagues must plough through the Ork hordes to try and find surviving Imperial Guard and the inquisitor. Not much to it – but by ‘eck is it fun. The action is superb. The marines’ weapons have been lovingly recreated for the game (plus some new varieties) – and the chainsword in particular is an absolute hoot to use. If you stun an opponent first (the triangle button) then follow through with an execute move (circle button) your Captain Titus performs a super-gory kill on his opponent, varying from stabbing an Ork through the head, to gutting him from waist to head, to simply stamping on the unfortunate Ork’s head. The blood is plentiful! I’m not usually one for gore but here it works and works well. And these execution moves do serve an extra purpose in that they refill your health gauge. A great idea. You can’t always do execution moves though as they do take a lot longer to perform, lovingly animated in slow-mo, than the average kill.

The combat is fierce and unrelenting. There is one sequence when the marines are waiting for a lift to arrive and wave after wave of Orks are charging at you. I found varying my weapons helped a bit; the heavier weapons weren’t too effective but chucking the odd grenade stirs things up, plus whipping out your bolter (a big rifle) worked a treat for the initially faraway onrushing hordes, then switching back to the satisfyingly choppy chainsword for all the close combat. No need for guns when the Orks get in close…

I like this game very much. I’m a big fan and collector of Space Marines (four armies on the go and counting) and to see them faithfully recreated in a videogame is a thrill.

Next up is the jump pack mission…

Andy ‘The Emperor Protects’ Jamieson, Editor

Space Marine is out, on PS3, XBox 360 and Pc, in the UK on Friday 9th September. 

Aug 242011

Developer: Supergiant Games
Publisher: Warner Bros.
Designer: Amir Rao
Platform: Windows, XBLA

In recent times video game narratives have become increasingly complex, crafted not solely by writers, but rather by close collaboration between artists, designers and musicians in harmony with the actions of the player. Experiences like Limbo and Machinarium mirror the style of Pixar’s Luxo, in which a story unravels without uttering a word. Unlike film, however, they embrace the interactive qualities of the medium, allowing the player to control the experience. Yet for all the innovation in interactive story telling, narration, remains for the most part static and predictable. Often times stories are delivered in scripted sequences as control is yanked from the player. While many developers have made efforts to avoid this construct, none have done so in such an enchanting fashion as Bastion.

The player controls the actions of the Kid, a baby faced warrior, uprooted by The Calamity. Before the Kid stirs for the first time a suitably coarse voice begins to speak. The voice, immaculately spoken by Logan Cunningham, then proceeds to punctuate the Kids every move with thoughtful narrative. It’s almost three thousand lines of dialogue, not insignificance for an eight hour experience, speaks for everyone and everything. It speaks the Kids mind, justifies his actions and relays his feelings. The voice weaves history into present actions and embellishes the world with stories of what its mere platforms once represented.

The narration, however, plays just one part of the experience, supported by Jen Zee’s beautifully illustrated world and acoustic frontier trip-hop soundtrack by Darren Korb, Bastion feels complete. In contrast, its regions are fractured, torn apart by the Calamity. As the Kid walks they are rebuilt underfoot one detail at a time from a deep void. The void surrounds the newly formed platforms as the sea surrounds an island, providing a sense of vastness and an inspired alternative to walls. Falling from the platforms costs a little health, but the Kid soon drops back to ground as if in a work by Escher to continue on his adventure. He slashes and plunders his way from region to region, surrounded by gleaming crystals, lush jungles and falling embers. Visiting each only once, which adds gravity to the choices he faces. Periodically he checks into Bastions’ name sake to upgrade weapons and manipulate bonuses. This sanctuary also holds it’s own secrets and some of the most challenging encounters in the game.

For all this, Bastion is at its core a humble action adventure title. A story of distraction and redemption in a post apocalyptic fantasy world. Only that it has been crafted with such care by it’s designer Amir Rao, it’s a joy to experience. It’s innovation deserves praise, but perhaps it is Supergiant’s passion that is most important.

Now available on Steam, with its native 1080p image, improved load times and three customisable control schemes.

– Bjorn Rust Geekzine Game Reviewer