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Warhammer 40K Space Marine: Multiplayer hands-on

Overpowered, unbalanced - and we love it

The multiplayer in Warhammer 40K: Space Marine is a bit busted.

We spent some time getting hands-on with its 8 v 8 game modes and found a few overly-powerful weapons, a melee mechanic that usually leaves you on the sharp end of your target's blade, and a class that stands head and shoulders above the rest in terms of power.

And you know what? We thought it was ace.

After all, some of the most memorable multiplayer shooters of all time are by today's standards broken and incredibly unbalanced. We're willing to bet Quake wouldn't be nearly as fun without the Quad Damage power up, our Counter-Strike skills wouldn't be nearly as deadly without a few AWPs in the wild keeping us on our toes, and who can forget the destructive power of the Redeemer in Unreal Tournament?

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With so many cookie-cutter shooters designed to fit a popular mold out there we're well overdue for one that plays by its own rules. Space Marine may just be it.

WITH GREAT POWER...
Warhammer's Space Marines are the embodiment of strength, bravery and valor. Whether it's a single Ork or an army of Chaos these defenders of mankind favour attacking their enemy head-on over cowering and taking pot-shots. The core gameplay in Space Marine is designed to preserve these qualities, shying away from popular mechanics such as blind fire and snap-to cover in favour of powerful weaponry and robust melee abilities.

As it goes in the process Relic is putting together a multiplayer experience that has a distinctly classic feel to it. Compared to its contemporaries Space Marine is a simpler, more transparent affair, opting to represent health through the good old energy bar instead of the often confusing, always distracting 'fading damage' used by Gears of War and Call of Duty.

It might not be as fast as the likes of UT or Quake, but Space Marine still places emphasis on getting the upper hand through smart, calculated positioning and movement over twitchy aiming and relying on classes that are tooled up to the teeth with weapons and perks for every scenario. If you want to take cover you'll have to hide behind whatever in the environment is large enough to fit your character model behind it.

TOP OF THE CLASS
At the base level the mechanics are as you'd expect: aim with the crosshair and pull the trigger to fire, stay on your toes to minimise damage from return fire, hit the aim button to switch to an over-the-shoulder view for a little more accuracy and chuck in a grenade or two when you can to flush out enemies or do more damage.

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The player is able to pick between three classes; the Tactical, which wields Bolters and is particularly proficient at short range combat, able to quickly dish out light and heavy melee attacks with a variety of swords, and the best all around class. The Devastator plays the role of tank, a walking bullet sponge that carries heavy weapons and delivers massive damage to all caught in his path.

The third, Assault, is a melee oriented class that has a significant advantage over the others thanks to a jetpack that allows it to rocket into the skies to escape, hide in nooks and crannies, close gaps and add some unpredictability and power to its already devastating melee blows.

With a very small cool down period and the ability to modify the direction of the dash on command, the Assault class is almost unstoppable and we fully expect its traits to be abused online come release. In our play session anyone who wasn't an Assault was almost always getting beaten to death by someone who was.

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