I just finished playing the Space Marine demo for the Xbox and I have one thing to say...this is the game we have been waiting for people! No offense to the Dawn of War games, I am a big fan of them too, but SM really puts you where all the gritty action is. THQ handled the 40K franchise very well once more with the uttermost respect and authenticity.
I wasn't very happy that I had to upgrade to Live Gold in order to download the game. I can think at least 10 different ways I could have spent these 6 quid (mainly involving food or beer or a combination of these too). Felt kinda cheated to be honest but I don't think THQ should be held responsible for this. It's probably a Microsoft money grabbing ploy. At least now I can watch some movies for free with my wife to justify that expense. Anyway, I'll stop winging now.
The game is 1,5 gigs but despite that it's very short. You get to choose between the two missions and the game options on the main menu. I don't care much about technicalities so I delved straight into the action. A few observations I made. The environments are amazing. Huge and immersive I thought they look straight out of a Dan Abnet novel. I didn't care about the smoke effect much though but that's nitpicking.
Your Space Marine feels kinda slow and very cumbersome. Every time you do a dodge roll the Xbox controller rumbles. I believe this is a good thing since it give you the impression how heavy and resilient your character is. A true force of nature. However he is not invincible at all. Even from the mindless brawls that I've participated in the demo I realised that if you don't think and plan ahead it's quite easy to die even from a dozen orks.
The controls are good I suppose but I am an FPS/third person shooter noob so it's hard for me to get used to, especially with the dual stick controls. There are no health packs in this game keep in mind. You replenish health by killing stuff, either by getting into frenzy mode or performing finishing moves. This can be a bit tricky, especially if you are in the middle of combat and you need a quick health boost. Nevertheless it puts the game apart from the other shooters out there and if forces you to be more aggressive and melee oriented with your playing.
In the first mission you have to go though a huge factorium type of construction yard and kill a bunch of orks. They come in the melee, shooty and gretchin variety and they are generally easy to kill. Nobs however are really tough and pack a hell of a punch. Still you will have to manage each of your battle with a combination of shooting, grenades, melee and finishing moves (to replenish health) or you could go down pretty fast. A bunch of bomb squigs(!) make their appearance too and they can be a very nasty surprise if you are not prepared for them.
Second mission you get a jump pack so you can move around "seamlessly" between various platforms. I first though that it's hard to control (especially the landing part) but after a few tries I was doing okay. A few tankbusters on this stage and you really don't wanna get hit by many of their rockets because they drain your life away very fast. Also, I think these orks are much more accurate than their tabletop cousins.
Overall, I am very impressed with the game. I admit it, I am a 40K fanboy and the demo was nothing but a little snippet but I am pretty sure the full game is going to rock very hard. I think non warhammer enthusiasts will like too since it feels the gap of a really fast paced melee oriented third person shooter.