I’m a sucker for a good power move. I’m not just talking about one-handed cartwheeling while firing a gun or Assassin’s Creed-style dexterity, but the single, meaty movements signal to the player that you’re in control of a hero who isn’t messing around; The kind who drinks their black coffee and doesn’t wear long clothes in winter. I wrote a while ago about the old cinematic platformer Blackthorne, and how even today the hero’s no-look-back shot is still one of the most badass moves in gaming, but having just seen the Space Marine 2 trailer, I think Blackthorne might just have it and top it off. Everyone’s favorite Ultramarine, Captain Titus.
The movement in question is actually quite subtle, and you can easily miss it in the action-packed trailer. We watch Titus bolt take down a swarm of Tyranids, before dodging a big, dual-wielding boy (forgive my lack of proper Warhammer 40K language), then delivering a raised fist to send them flying backwards. Yet, so the Space Marine. Then, Titus follows this up by shooting the stunned beast, but in the middle of this, a smaller Tyranid of the swarm leaps straight into Titus’ head. With the grid firmly set on another enemy, you’ll need more twitchy reflexes to switch to the new attacker, and you’ll basically be screwed in that moment if you’re on a controller.
But that’s not a problem for Titus, who at the last nanosecond catches a Tyranid’s leap when it’s right in front of his face as if it were a plush thrown by a rambunctious kid, slammed into the ground, and then stomped on with a giant Marine boot. .
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movement quite like it – so simple yet incredibly metallic. I’ve played plenty of games where you’re the aggressor, lunging forward to grab enemies and finish them off in a brutal melee attack (DOOM, God of War, Wolfenstein, to name a few), but this defensive move fantasy works functionally like some kind of block. I can see from the trailer that you can do regular blockers and dashes too, but this air grab adds an extra layer of grit to the usual selection of defensive moves.
Seeing this move now, I’m kind of surprised we haven’t seen similar things implemented in some of the games above, which characterize the types of heavy-hitting Demigod heroes they’d be able to pull off. That’s part of it, too: You need a big fat bastard for such a move to look and feel right, and Titus is as fat and washed-up as they come.
Space Marine 2 looks predictably great. Stunning backgrounds showing thousands of Tyranid-dactyls (apologies for the lack of 40K language #2) flying around the ruins of a gothic industrial city, massive amounts of enemies to shoot and stomp at any time, and linear, no-nonsense action. The original Space Marine was an unexpected treat back in 2011, but this time around my expectations were way too high. We hope it also has a co-op mode to make it truly worthy of Emperor.
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