Warhammer 40K: Space Marine - 'We want to express 40k as an action blockbuster'

Pt. 1 - We chat to Relic game director Raphael van Lierop

At the end of this summer Relic Entertainment will release Warhammer 40K: Space Marine, a game which its publisher, THQ, has had no trouble calling a "Gears of War-killer"

Space Marine takes traditional third-person action gameplay but gives adds a Warhammer 40K spin, making the hulking characters favour close-quarters combat over hiding behind cover and drawing from numerous years worth of lore.

A few weeks ago Relic revealed that players will be going up against the devious Chaos race in the game. We sat down for a chat with Space Marine game director Raphael van Lierop for an update on the project and what the Chaos will bring to the game.

We haven't seen Space Marine for a while, can you update us on your progress with it?

We're coming in on Alpha right now, around three weeks ago we had a hands on event with press where we showed the pre-alpha build of Space Marine, the game is coming along really well, it's looking and playing great, we're in the middle of some heavy playtesting right now so we're bringing in all the resources we have in the studio and down at THQ, including their playtesting lab to handle Space Marine and make sure we're putting out as polished a game as possible.

The game is already looking good and running really well on all platforms so we're in good shape. It's coming down to the point where it's about tuning the game and polishing it to make sure the experience feels tight. That's where we are right now, feeling solid and heading into focusing on polish and tuning.

What major features of the game have you got left to show off?

We haven't spoken much about the multiplayer side of things yet and that is coming down the pipe soon. Obviously right now the focus is on the fact that we have Chaos - that is a big reveal that we haven't spoken about before and is something that we think will really excite the fans of the game.

We know people have been wondering what tricks we have up our sleeves in terms of other enemies in the game, we've already established with our RTS side of 40K that it's about fighting more than one enemy and I think that with Space Marine we've focused on talking about the Orks so far and how they're very useful for us in communicating our gameplay. They create a very cool combat experience because they're a horde and they attack you en masse which lets the player take advantage of the melee and shooting and blend it.

With Chaos we're able to add a new twist to the game for players, giving them an enemy that is much more devious, much more dangerous in small numbers and one that is going to force the player to be think, be a little quicker on their toes and just provide a fresh challenge for them in the game.

Orks and Space Marines are familiar concepts to gamers whereas Chaos might only be familiar to Warhammer fans. Can you explain what their introduction means to Space Marine?

Of course, In terms of the enemy races the Orks are the brutal, animalistic, attacking in hordes type. They attack you with 20 or 30 enemies at a time to try and get in as close as possible, there's a combination of ranged and melee specialists so we can layer all kinds of interesting combinations of enemy types in encounters to keep players interested and add variety. There are specialist units as well such as very heavy, big, almost boss-like units that you have to really give attention to when they walk onto the battlefield because they can be a big threat.

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