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In the grim, dark future of the 41st millennium, there is ONLY (gears of) WAR
May 30, 2011 2:06 PM   Subscribe

Start with the over-sized armor and bodybuilder physiques of the marines. When you aim a gun in Space Marine, the target reticle is huge, just like the target reticle in Gears of War. The guns are huge and they feature a chainsaw blade that can be used to slice enemies in half, execution style, similar to the “chainsaw bayonet” of the Gears soldiers... The blood spatters are also quite similar. The guns shoot in a similar fashion and the Space Marines wield a big giant hammer that resembles the blasting hammers not from Gears of War but from Microsoft’s other sci-fi franchise, Halo... The bad guys are the green Ork enemies from the Warhammer world, and they bear no resemblance to the enemies in Gears of War, except that they make loud grunts. Of course, their very name does bear resemblance to the “orcs” in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, but we’ll ignore that for now. Dean Takahashi, lead writer for GamesBeat at VentureBeat, on how Warhammer 40K: Space Marine is a big rip off of Gears of War. That would be Warhammer 40k, the first rulebook for which was released in 1987, and Gears of War, the relentlessly brown X-Box game released in 2006 to an emo-tastic advertising campaign. Oops. Dean has since backed down and said that he was only talking about gameplay aspects (he wasn't) that are similar (not particularly). Previously he was forced to retract a bad review of Mass Effect when it emerged that he had no idea how to play it. Should videogame journalists be expected to vaguely know what they are talking about, or are we just petty and vindictive for expecting that? (via)
posted by Artw (129 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Obligatory Penny arcade link
posted by Artw at 2:07 PM on May 30, 2011 [35 favorites]


Gotta love Space Orks, any race that powers its tanks, guns, rockets, and armor by force of personality is awesome.

WAAAAAGH THE ORKS, WAAAAGH!
DAKKA DAKKA DAKKA!
posted by Slackermagee at 2:12 PM on May 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


I flicked through this yesterday. His retraction is like eighty pages.
posted by tumid dahlia at 2:13 PM on May 30, 2011


That's always a good sign, a massive unpology.
posted by Artw at 2:15 PM on May 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


IN THE GRIM DARKNESS OF THE FAR FUTURE THERE IS ONLY BROWN.
posted by JHarris at 2:15 PM on May 30, 2011 [10 favorites]


Fear not Dean. There is a place for your skull on the skull throne.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:15 PM on May 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Part of this is that in the relentless pursuit of pageviews, blogs that used to have a pretty tight scope are forced to write about things out of their wheelhouse. Why, for instance, does a website focusing on the startup scene need to have video game reviews?

It's inevitable that as the grind of web writing continues and accelerates, hackery like this will become more prevalent, too.
posted by downing street memo at 2:16 PM on May 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


In the grim darkness of the future, no one knows what the hell tabletop rpg's were.
posted by dortmunder at 2:17 PM on May 30, 2011 [14 favorites]


Man, that Penny Arcade link describes pretty much how I feel whenever people born after about 1982 talk about video games.
posted by Justinian at 2:18 PM on May 30, 2011 [21 favorites]


We shouldn't expect them to know what they are talking about as journalists. Holding them accountable as journalists would be inconsistent with how we treat fox "news".
posted by varion at 2:18 PM on May 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Eh. It was clearly slapped together on deadline without bothering to do any research. It's not vindictively evil in the Daily Mail style, it's just the product of a lonely hack.
posted by jaduncan at 2:19 PM on May 30, 2011


Also: The Mad World trailer for the original was awesome and rightly won awards. The new one uses War Pigs. I dunno, it seems like using War Pigs kind of misses the point.
posted by Justinian at 2:19 PM on May 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


There should be a WH4)K trailer using Electric Funeral.
posted by Artw at 2:21 PM on May 30, 2011


H.G. Wells totally ripped off Hollow Man for The Invisible Man and Thr Matrix for The Time Machine.

God totally ripped off Cool Hand Luke for the Gospel of Mark.
posted by infinitewindow at 2:22 PM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


/begins work on list of things that ripped off Avatar.
posted by Artw at 2:24 PM on May 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


I agree with the linked Joystick Division article. Yeah he made a mistake, but it doesn't really matter that Warhammer is older if it wasn't a videogame. Now that it's a shooter, it's treading the same ground as a game that was released years back and played by a large number of gamers. You can still get a sense of "been there, done that" from a Warhammer video game that was released well after a popular Gears of War game inspired by Warhammer.
posted by Hoopo at 2:25 PM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would really love to draw a line in the sand on the phrase "video game journalist." It smacks of a respectability that really hasn't been earned. With the exception of some technology writers and a handful of game designers who have turned to writing, most of these people are just aficionados with low-paying jobs writing game reviews. Those who do have some formal training are just reviewers or critics. "Journalism" implies both formal training (rarely the case for most of these people) and the reporting of news (which is never the case).

I realize I'm being curmudgeonly here, but I like to think that words have meaning.
posted by kernel_sander at 2:29 PM on May 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Meh, they're all Hexen clones.

Which is worse: a game "journalist" who has no idea what the fuck he's talking about or a game "journalist" so deeply entwined in the blowjobs and promotional hype from every game company that they write exactly what the publisher wants them to?
posted by Nelson at 2:31 PM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I honestly know very little about the lore of Warhammer."

It shows
posted by Blasdelb at 2:32 PM on May 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hoppo: The fighting parts of the game were done way back in (I think) 2003 in an RTS fashion with Dawn of War. Melee combat with chainswords, melta guns, plasma weapons, and giant rifles.

So it's treading the same ground as was trodden by an FPS inspired by the table top game with borrow elements from an RTS.

Or its just taking the 40k franchise down an FPS turn... not very convinced that SM play style is going to be as similar to GoW as the author claims.
posted by Slackermagee at 2:34 PM on May 30, 2011


Epic Games has a history of being "inspired" by 40k. Unreal Tournament's final "boss" Xan was clearly styled based off the Space Marine design. Then there's Starcraft, where the Terran/Zerg/Protoss races are pretty darn similar to the Space Marines/Tyranid/Eldar. 40k is a rich fictional universe that has been quietly adapted by other media for some time.
posted by mnemonic at 2:35 PM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Epic Games has a history of being "inspired" by 40k.

40K has a history of being inspired by Robert Heinlein. Everyone is inspired by someone else.
posted by JHarris at 2:37 PM on May 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Which is worse: a game "journalist" who has no idea what the fuck he's talking about or a game "journalist" so deeply entwined in the blowjobs and promotional hype from every game company that they write exactly what the publisher wants them to?"

AN OPEN MIND IS LIKE A FORTRESS WITH ITS GATES UNBARRED AND UNGUARDED
posted by Blasdelb at 2:37 PM on May 30, 2011 [12 favorites]


Something something Tim Rogers.
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:41 PM on May 30, 2011


kernel_sander: According to Wikipedia, "A journalist collects and disseminates information about current events, people, trends, and issues." Or, according to Google, a journalist is "A person who writes for newspapers or magazines or prepares news to be broadcast on radio or television."

If you're covering the games industry, it's at least reasonably likely you'll be writing news, albeit specialist, industry news: everything from new game announcements to company mergers and profit reports.

But even if you're not, and you're something more resembling a critic, I'm not sure the word "journalist" should be enshrined. There are good journalists and bad journalists. There are good writers and bad writers about videogames, and "videogame journalist" is as good a word as any to denote the mixture of reporting/criticism they'll likely perform. Videogame journalists - or whatever - went through the same doubt over the use of the word a few years back, before everyone got tired and decided it didn't matter.

Disclaimer: I am a videogame journalist.
posted by Gonnas at 2:41 PM on May 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


it doesn't really matter that Warhammer is older if it wasn't a videogame.

The first 40k videogame came out in the early 90s. They had a FPS in the early 2000s but I never played it; it looked shit.

Warhammer was such a fun, goofily serious thing. Orks that could make their vehicles go faster by painting them red, a nigh unobtainable issue of White Dwarf that had rules for The Legion of the Damned that a friend had (and lost), an army of Squats kept in an old tackle box, and those massive tomes filled with death metal art and rules we would only remember when it benefited our stupidly expensive armies.

Good times.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 2:46 PM on May 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I guess what I'm saying is that it's possible to feel that another giant-muscles-space-marines-with-crazy-chainsaw-guns game is a bit familiar at this point despite the fact Warhammer may have been the originator of the genre. Gears of War seems to be Takahashi's point of reference as to why he feels he's been here before, but yes, he makes the mistake of saying it rips off Gears of War. I'd probably be similarly guilty, if I saw a JRPG with a spiky-haired giant-sword protagonist I'd probably say "this seems like a Final Fantasy ripoff" without really knowing if Final Fantasy was actually the first to do that sort of thing.
posted by Hoopo at 2:47 PM on May 30, 2011


Sounds like they pretty much took the Gears of War engine and reskinned it with 40K enemies and themes. To me, that's a rip off, no matter how long ago you played 40K on tabletop.
posted by sophist at 2:55 PM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, c'mon Gonnas. If your defense starts with "according to wikipedia" you're doing it wrong.

The problem with a significant portion of 'games journalists' is that they're paid per post. They have no incentive to put out anything useful, or even new. Which is why Kotaku has 50 posts a day, linking to trailers, quoting press releases verbatim, and supplying pictures of Japanese idols for some reason.

Takahashi has done good work. This is not good work. He's taking a shotgun approach there using the word ripoff. This is from Gears of War, this is from Halo, this is from Lord of the Rings. The main argument against "this is just a Gears of War clone" is that Space Marine has no cover mechanic.
posted by graventy at 2:59 PM on May 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'd probably be similarly guilty, if I saw a JRPG with a spiky-haired giant-sword protagonist I'd probably say "this seems like a Final Fantasy ripoff" without really knowing if Final Fantasy was actually the first to do that sort of thing.

Well, you'd probably get more of a pass on that if you didn't prooclaim yourself a website's lead writer on the subject. Or if you even vaguely backed down when called on it.
posted by Artw at 2:59 PM on May 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Wow, his "retraction" is a joke. "This post is not research-backed journalism"? That's his excuse for being a game reviewer who doesn't know what Warhammer 40K is? For fuck's sake, WH40K: Dawn of War came out two years before Gears of War did, was chock-full of Orks and Space Marines with power armor, muscles, giant guns, and chainswords, and should be familiar to anyone reviewing games, because it was quite popular and influential. That's entirely ignoring the tabletop game... to say nothing of Googling the subject you're writing about before deciding that it must be derivative.

If what he'd meant to say was "the look and feel are similar", it would have been very easy to do so without concentrating on points of Gears of War's look and feel which came from Warhammer 40K first. Gameplay mechanics, for instance, would have been something worth commenting on... assuming there are major similarities, and that these major similarities don't exist in pretty much every other modern third-person shooter. Too bad he barely mentions mechanics in favor of (entirely ignorant) commentary on what the characters and weapons look like.
posted by vorfeed at 3:01 PM on May 30, 2011 [9 favorites]


H.G. Wells totally ripped off Hollow Man for The Invisible Man and Thr Matrix for The Time Machine.

God totally ripped off Cool Hand Luke for the Gospel of Mark.


A friend of mine pooped all over Lord of the Rings because (among other things) he thought Aragorn was a ripoff of Lan from Wheel of Time. I started to explain that LotR came first, and pretty quickly gave up.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 3:02 PM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd probably be similarly guilty, if I saw a JRPG with a spiky-haired giant-sword protagonist I'd probably say "this seems like a Final Fantasy ripoff" without really knowing if Final Fantasy was actually the first to do that sort of thing.

Yeah, but (at a guess) unlike Takahashi you're not getting paid to write terrible articles about it. Here's "Mass Defect", the Mass Effect review (the Mercury News site won't load for me). It's not very good.

And despite the Joystickdivision article, one reason people get annoyed by terrible games criticism is that via Metacritic it can have a concrete effect on what games get made. I'm not sure if Takahashi's review is on Metacritic, but plenty of others just as bad certainly are.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 3:07 PM on May 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


God totally ripped off Cool Hand Luke for the Gospel of Mark.

Was Mark's gospel inspired by the Messiah tabletop game, or do you mean Mark ripped off Cool Hand Luke?

Yeah, but (at a guess) unlike Takahashi you're not getting paid to write terrible articles about it

Apparently I could though. My credentials are that I've sucked at video games since I first laid hands on on Intellivision controller, and I like to complain. Watch out, Takahashi!
posted by Hoopo at 3:18 PM on May 30, 2011


40k was a blast, used to play crazy 36 hour marathons in high school. As much as I want to jump all over the guy, and some of his points are pretty dumb, I just can't bring myself tom do it. Sure 40k was there first with space marines, but why not take the opportunity to do Harlequins or Squats. Why another space marine game especially if the gameplay is going to feel similar to GoW.40k is begging for a new gameplay style I am going to call Macro/Micro or maybe Strategic/Tactical or maybe just Stratical. An RTS, where you zoom in and play out each skirmish FPS style. Make it happen game developers.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:20 PM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, judged only from the screenshots, Space Marine appears to have followed GoW's lead in having one, but only one, living woman appear in the entire game --- an NPC (*) officer ally, in uniform but with vaguely normal proportions to give emphasis to the massive, purportedly virile bulk of the male, playable characters, and to give the male player something to fight for, 'back at home'.

Right down to having a headset no doubt used throughout the game to advance the lazy narrative by wireless, à la CSI and, yes, the Gears of War games (although in Space Marine's case, the headset actually looks like it's from 1987!).

And they are named Mira and Anya. Obviously Space Marine has completely ripped off Gears of War. Debate settled.

* To be fair, Gears' only-woman-in-the-universe will apparently be up-armoured and playable in the next game.
** And yes, I recognize that this is a nearly ubiquitous video game / sci fi / action movie trope/exploitation that Space Marines is just the latest dumb participant in.

posted by waterunderground at 3:21 PM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


You mean like Archon?
posted by LogicalDash at 3:21 PM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


graventy: From the Oxford English Dictionary, then, journalism is "the activity or profession of writing for newspapers or magazines or of broadcasting news on radio or television." I wanted to illustrate that there's nothing about the word "journalism" that implies inherent quality.

I'm not defending this piece by Takahashi. The article doesn't place the game in its proper cultural context. I think the scolding he's received is overkill, though. Gears of War didn't originate those ideas and it was folly to imply it did, but the point of the article is accurate: most gamers have played things very similar to Space Marine already.

Yes, a portion of games journalists are paid by the post, or maybe sometimes by how widely-read a post is. Kotaku work that way and are enormously popular and awful and post irrelevant drivel to chase hits, and they damage the entire industry by doing so. I'm not sure who else works this way, though.

A larger problem is that a significant portion - as in, the vast majority - of games journalists are just generally poorly paid. That means that they have to write a lot to make a living (normally as freelancers, whether writing for the web or print) and can't spend a vast amount of time on each piece. More troublingly, it means that eventually writers hit 30, decide they'd like a mortgage, kids, a life, and they and their experience leave to make more money elsewhere. Most often as PR or community managers, but really anywhere else other than games journalism.
posted by Gonnas at 3:22 PM on May 30, 2011


Warhammer was such a fun, goofily serious thing. Orks that could make their vehicles go faster by painting them red

It's one of my favorite worlds that never seems to get the respect it really, really deserves. It's dark, bleak, to the point that if it was real, we'd all go insane, and that would create an evil chaos god. But, and this is important, it's downright hilarious too, like the ork thing you mentioned. So many of the games that ripped it off just lack that awesome flavor. I love Blizzard, but both Starcraft and Warcraft just really copied the art and renamed it, and lost a lot of the flair of the Warhammer universe. It's just a shame they did the computer version better at first, and Warhammer Online didn't measure up. :(

I'd probably be similarly guilty, if I saw a JRPG with a spiky-haired giant-sword protagonist I'd probably say "this seems like a Final Fantasy ripoff" without really knowing if Final Fantasy was actually the first to do that sort of thing.

To me it would be closer if you claimed it was rip off of a later jrpg. Closer would be ignoring all influence D&D had on games, and then claiming FF was the first to come up with them.
posted by usagizero at 3:22 PM on May 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


But the Web are going to Save Journalisming! Isn't they? To find out more, we asked this cat.
posted by Mike Smith at 3:23 PM on May 30, 2011 [19 favorites]


I kind of have a feeling of meh for this one. Here's the thing. Yes, a lot of people have copied Warhammer (insert pointed stare at Blizzard here). But I can't understand the folks who are upset that someone copied them, seeing that the makers of Warhammer fantasy and 40k are not, to put it mildly, very original.

First was Warhammer fantasy, which was largely a steal from Tolkien and D&D, complete with elves and orcs. No, adding wackiness and Cockney accents to your orcs does not make them original creations. Then they went to 40K, by taking the Tolkien species and putting them in the future. And we got Elves....In...Spaaaaace! Then they added some elements from other scifi novels such as the omniscient God Emperor of Dune the Imperium, and mixed in stereotypical soldier units based unpleasant historical precedents, such as the Stalinist based Imperial Guard with their Commissars, or the sometimes uncomfortably Germanic Space Marines. Add some Grim Futuristic Darkness of Chaotic Bloody Darkness of the Future, and you've got a backstory.

Don't misunderstand me. The Warhammer games are enjoyable, and the universe they're in serves it's purpose of facilitating the games. But the settings are not original at all, making it a bit ironic when people talk about others copying them.
posted by unreason at 3:24 PM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just think of all the ad impressions this generated. His editor's going to give him a raise and say "do that again, just not too often and not too obviously." Ka-ching!
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:27 PM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


You mean like Archon?

Yeah, I guess that is stractical, chess with 1v1 combat. I'm thinking it is time to revisit that, Starcraft with GoW inside it.

I found all my Harlequins, I even have a Harlequin Rhino painted crazy circus colors around somewhere. You can't tell me nobody wants to play a Death Jester in an FPS
posted by Ad hominem at 3:34 PM on May 30, 2011


Something something Tim Rogers.

It was Tim Rogers' glowing review of GoW and analysis of it's mechanics that sold me on it. Haven't played it yet, but it's next.

I thought Space Marine was a brawler? I'm not a 40K fan but I might get it for me 'mindless action' fix. My little bro is a huge 40K fan, and I do like the aesthetic.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:34 PM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, I'm pretty sure Warhammer rips off EVERYTHING. It might have got Lovecraft Bro into Lovecraft
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:35 PM on May 30, 2011


I totally gonna make my own Lancer btw. Start with a Nerf Longshot, cut a bunch of the sticky-outy stuff off, paint it grimdarkfuture (it's a colour, honest), and then duct tape one of these bitches to it.
posted by tumid dahlia at 3:45 PM on May 30, 2011


Haven't played it yet, but it's next.

GoW is great, the cover system and even grenade mechanics were totally seamless. I'm not particularly good at cover based shooters, my skills seem to have peaked at Quake III Arena, so it was a relief after failing so hard at hyper-realistic Tom Clancy type games.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:45 PM on May 30, 2011


It's almost as if game journalists are incompetent fuckwits.

This isn't even the worst. Last year the great game Nier got panned because a journo got stuck on a fishing minigame that was clearly marked on the mini-map.

As for everyone claiming the game is a rip off, I'm pretty sure a brawler isn't the same as a cover-based shooter.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:47 PM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


...Gears of War, the relentlessly brown X-Box game...

Also I'm sorry but it's relentlessly grey. And you call yourself a "front page poster".
posted by tumid dahlia at 3:47 PM on May 30, 2011 [3 favorites]




Also, I'm pretty sure Warhammer rips off EVERYTHING.

In space no one can hear you scream. Except the Genestealers.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 3:52 PM on May 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Was Mark's gospel inspired by the Messiah tabletop game, or do you mean Mark ripped off Cool Hand Luke?"

THE MAN WHO HAS NOTHING CAN STILL HAVE FAITH

for

BLESSED IS THE MIND TO SMALL FOR DOUBT

posted by Blasdelb at 3:52 PM on May 30, 2011


Modern Games Workshop is quite a bit different from the Games Workshop that first brought us Warhammer and Warhammer 40k, especially when it comes to developing the setting. Back in the day, yeah, they were totally inspired and not at all shy about incorporating anything and everything that set their nerd hearts aflame. Orc in Sspppaaaace? Sure! But also Mongols On Motorcycles in Sspppaaaacceee and demonic space marines with badass electric guitars as weapons.

Basically, if someone in the Nottingham area could model it, they'd go for it. Just saw Alien? Sure, let's do that too. You saw T2 and want robotic skeletons? Fine with me.

But in the last, say, 15 years or so, there has been a huge push to congeal the setting, file down some of the rough edges that resulted from, say, trying to give human space soldiers space ogres and space halflings as support troops. On one hand, this has resulted in worlds with less whimsy (Skaven, fantasy ratmen, no longer tool around on a giant hamster wheel), which I think was a big part of the settings' original shine. But on the other hand, it's resulted in much more textured and nuanced worlds.

Maybe this goes hand in hand with the rise of the Black Library, the fiction publishing end of Games Workshop. Taking setting design out of the hands of rule and model designers has been a great thing. They are currently reworking the origin stories of the settings through the Horus Heresy (40k) and Time of Legends (Fantasy) series.

(There's some really good stuff being written in the Warhammer settings right now - pick up any of Dan Abnett's books to see for yourself (although it looks like he's being stolen away by writing in his own settings and, er, for Marvel Comics). Other authors are generally a good mixed bag (though there are still some stinkers).)

Anyways, I think this is why modern Warhammer fans are so touchy about the rip-off claims. Yeah, they know in their heart of hearts that their setting was originally ripped off from a myriad of sources, but so much work has been put into looking back and revamping things in ways that somehow still stay faithful to the old stories but also give them an original spin at the same time. They know there wasn't a lot of thought put into the formation of the setting but there is a landcruiser-load of it being put in now.

Finally, to a Gears of War fan who thinks other settings are derivative, all I can say is, "Yeah, I liked Aliens too."
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:00 PM on May 30, 2011 [10 favorites]


my first thought was maybe Jonathan Coulton could write an entertaining song about this controversy
my second thought was is this really the person I've become?
posted by Bwithh at 4:00 PM on May 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


On the other hand, judged only from the screenshots, Space Marine appears to have followed GoW's lead in having one, but only one, living woman appear in the entire game --- an NPC (*) officer ally, in uniform but with vaguely normal proportions to give emphasis to the massive, purportedly virile bulk of the male, playable characters, and to give the male player something to fight for, 'back at home'.

She looks like an officer of the Imperial Guard. The Space Marines are all male, but there's also The Sisters Of Battle who are... kind of scary, they wear powered armor and run around burning people/things to the ground. Have there been any 40K computer/video games that feature The Sisters Of Battle?
posted by TheKM at 4:17 PM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


The more I read about this game the more interested I get. Wave based shooter and hack and slash? No cover system? Sounds like Fun.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:17 PM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


To me it would be closer if you claimed it was rip off of a later jrpg. Closer would be ignoring all influence D&D had on games, and then claiming FF was the first to come up with them.

It's probably because I've never played these particular games, tabletop or otherwise. But I'll have another go with my bad analogies, because this is an internet discussion after all: wouldn't it be more like if D&D made a JRPG tomorrow that looked and felt a fair bit like FFX, and when called on it everyone gets all "nuh-uh cuz D&D has been doing games with swords and quests and shit since forever, Tidus-come-lately!" I mean, both are true but only one of those things matters if I'm considering buying this video game.

BTW it seems like he acknowledges most of this criticism himself in the short review in question. Even the part about how Warhammer came up with these concepts first. He's pretty much dead wrong calling it a "ripoff" from what I can tell. But the idea that there may be another popular blockbuster game from a few years back that you probably played and it has a similar look or feel or themes? That could take away from your enjoyment of this game? Why not point that out? Seems like a relevant statement to me if I were in the market for a game like that. I have owned games that just sat there collecting dust because they're too much like another game I played.
posted by Hoopo at 4:23 PM on May 30, 2011


Yeah, having the only female character(s) being Imperial Guardsmen is probably a wise choice. The world is simply not ready for Sisters Repentia and their taskmistress with the dual neural whips.
posted by Slackermagee at 4:24 PM on May 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Although a Silent Sister as the main PC would be a nice take on the mute main character trope.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:27 PM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shakespeare totally ripped off The Lion King.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:30 PM on May 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Have there been any 40K computer/video games that feature The Sisters Of Battle?

Soulstorm, the final expansion to Dawn of War, featured the Sisters of Battle. This expansion was not nearly as good as Dark Crusade, but if you're into cleansing things with fire, then it's for you.
posted by Verdant at 4:33 PM on May 30, 2011


RED IS FASTER!
posted by Max Power at 4:44 PM on May 30, 2011


Women? In 40K? Craziness!
posted by Artw at 4:47 PM on May 30, 2011


VentureBeat is not exactly the place to go for cutting-edge games journalism. They do it, but I've never fully understood why, because the interviewers seldom understand or appear interested in the actual games. They're really much more excited when talking about rounds of funding.

(I've worked at more than one company VentureBeat has covered.)
posted by restless_nomad at 5:14 PM on May 30, 2011


It does usually end in crazy for the women in 40k.

A woman wearing radiant armor that consumes her life spirit while being 'blessed' with super human strength.

Moving forward in a frothing, hateful rage and assaulting whatever you can lay those twisted jaws-of-life-as-a-sword-with-chainsaw-bits weapons onto when you fail a morale test... instead of moving safely backwards to your own lines.

Crazy crazy crazy ways of killing psychic things.

The Penitent Engine.

A large, tank mounted pipe organ that shoots missiles when you hit the keys.
posted by Slackermagee at 5:15 PM on May 30, 2011


"I honestly know very little about the lore of Warhammer."

What part of THERE IS ONLY WAR didn't you understand? Impale him on my Titan's standard so that he can enjoy the view.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:17 PM on May 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


Out of all of the little subgenres of geekdom, I feel more joy when I run into a fellow (former) W40k fan than any other thing from my past. Sure, everyone can quote the Simpsons, and D&D jokes are easy to come by. On the other hand, if someone played 40k, there's more than a good chance it was an outright obsession, that they had spent hundreds of dollars and hundreds of hours on their army, had collected the various tomes (and read them all) and probabl read White Dwarf on a regular basis.

The injoke quote sharing, as seen in this thread, never fails to cheer me up. When I saw this, I couldn't stop laughing, and think it's just about perfect.

Why yes, I created my own Space Marines chapter, played 40k and epic, painted miniatures til I needed glasses, and still remember enough of the basic rules to run a game. Why, dear lord, why isn't there a decent version of 40k for the computer that allows army building and table top simulation?
posted by Ghidorah at 5:17 PM on May 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


This. I'm too old for this 'hold right trigger press white button right analogue joystick to duck to cover behind wall while maintaing focus on last selected target' bullshit, or even RTS stuff like StarCraft. I want to be able to click on a little dude and say 'YOU! Overwatch, this way. YOU! Flank those heretics then empty your chaingun into their heads.' Something like X-COM.

Oh, God. Can you imagine 40K with the X-COM engine? I just peed my pants a little.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:25 PM on May 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Ah, the happy days of playing Space Hulk and Laser Squa. And trying to make our own hybrid strategy game based on elements of the two...
posted by Artw at 5:36 PM on May 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


A large, tank mounted pipe organ that shoots missiles when you hit the keys.

Is there a variant where the missiles are made of cats?
posted by waterunderground at 5:42 PM on May 30, 2011


I honestly know very little about the lore of Warhammer.

Blessed is the mind too small for doubt.
posted by kafziel at 5:45 PM on May 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I always liked the description "Magic fascist space nuns with flamethrowers" for the Sisters of Battle.

Also: Necrons. What if the terminator was a foot soldier for the elder gods and had a weapon capable of melting a tank? I like the Necrons.
posted by Grimgrin at 5:46 PM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


A large, tank mounted pipe organ that shoots missiles when you hit the keys.

Not the first time they've ripped off Nemesis the Warlock, nor, I suspect, the last.
posted by Artw at 5:48 PM on May 30, 2011


Wow, the weasling in this guy's apology is epic.

'The look and feel are similar. That is all I wanted to say.'

No, what you wanted to say is in the headline:

'How many ways can THQ’s Space Marine game rip off Gears of War?'

Muppet.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:54 PM on May 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm still working on my Theory Regarding the Ascension of the Emperor and the Creation of the Primarchs. I need to crack open a few bottles of Chimay and give it an update.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:54 PM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why yes, I created my own Space Marines chapter, played 40k and epic, painted miniatures til I needed glasses, and still remember enough of the basic rules to run a game. Why, dear lord, why isn't there a decent version of 40k for the computer that allows army building and table top simulation?

I think you're looking for Vassal.
posted by Slackermagee at 5:59 PM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also: Necrons. What if the terminator was a foot soldier for the elder gods and had a weapon capable of melting a tank? I like the Necrons.

I played Necrons for a time. My buddy who played IG loathed it when I would drop my monolith into the center of his army.

Muahahahahaha!
posted by Fleebnork at 6:03 PM on May 30, 2011


"For every battle honour, a thousand heroes die alone, unsung and unremembered."
posted by newdaddy at 6:05 PM on May 30, 2011


9 out of 10 of those being Imperial Guard.
posted by Artw at 6:08 PM on May 30, 2011 [9 favorites]


I liked the bit where he was all "Gears of War is just ripping off actual war battles that have been fought in the world."
posted by tumid dahlia at 6:08 PM on May 30, 2011


God totally ripped off Cool Hand Luke for the Gospel of Mark.

No, that was the Book of Exodus; the part where Moses is "just shaking the bush, Boss."
posted by octobersurprise at 6:11 PM on May 30, 2011


If your Space Marines in any way talk or act like actual US marines* you have failed at WH40K and need to stop immediatly.

* I.e. You are just ripping off Aliens without making them quasi-medeival space Nazis.
posted by Artw at 6:12 PM on May 30, 2011


No, what you wanted to say is in the headline:

'How many ways can THQ’s Space Marine game rip off Gears of War?'


So we're ignoring what he wrote after the title I guess?
posted by Hoopo at 6:17 PM on May 30, 2011


I think it's a bit unfair to say that Warhammer Fantasy "rips off" Tolkien's lore (without getting into debate whether Tolkien "ripped off" northern european mythology in the first instance.

Orks are very very different to orcs. Elves have similarities sure, but there are no dark elves in Tolkien. The Old World is more developed and richer in texture than the Middle Earth of the Third age. There are no analogues between the Empire and Gondor, or Skaven and anything, or Tomb Kings, or Vampire Counts, or much of dwarven mythology (trollslayers anyone?).

GW are and should be rightly proud of their backstory. It's a great setting for roleplaying. They (used to, before their lawyers told them not to) acknowledge their inspirations, such as Moorcock's law and chaos concepts, but this magpie attitude was a strength not a flaw.

Same goes for W40K. Sure it draws elements from every thing written before, but it ties it in and adds so much more that it's foolish to say it's derivative. I mean, Heinlein (may have) "invented" power armoured space marines (an idea that was begging to be invented), but to say that that means anything about the conception of the horus heresy, Marneus Calgar or the Adeptus Astartes is beyond a stretch.


PS robocop is bleeding, the "hamster wheel" still exists.
posted by wilful at 6:28 PM on May 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


As someone who is neither into GoW or WH40K, my sole, skinny dog in this hunt has to do with his review of Mass Effect: as long as you're linking to Penny Arcade, you should also note that Gabe and Tycho had problems with the playing system (not to mention with omni-gel and those damn elevators). These were all things that got fixed in ME2 (or at least the elevators/map changes got more interesting and varied graphics). I was lucky enough to get in on the franchise with ME2 and picked up the first game purely for the story; if it had been the other way around, I'm not sure that I would have continued to ME2. It really was kind of a shitty system.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:49 PM on May 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dammit, you guys, now I'm sad that I missed out on playing WH40K as a kid; I got stuck in AD&D and Rifts, and this looks like tons more fun. Just reading the wikipedia entry on Orks was hilarious.

Are there any FPSes that combine violent gameplay with ridiculous humor? Seems like it would be a good way to set yourself apart from the pack.
posted by Existential Dread at 7:08 PM on May 30, 2011


You mean like Archon?

Yeah, I guess that is stractical, chess with 1v1 combat. I'm thinking it is time to revisit that, Starcraft with GoW inside it.


You mean like BattleZone?
posted by Sparx at 7:15 PM on May 30, 2011



Are there any FPSes that combine violent gameplay with ridiculous humor? Seems like it would be a good way to set yourself apart from the pack.


Duke Nukem 3D
Duke Nukem Forever, assuming it comes out
Bulletstorm
Shadow Warrior (like Duke 3D, but kinda racist)
No One Lives Forever
Giants: Citizen Kabuto
Armed and Dangerous
Serious Sam

(I haven't played many of these, beyond Duke Nukem 3D)
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:22 PM on May 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Borderlands.
posted by Justinian at 7:40 PM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Serious Sam is one of my favorites, it is pretty tongue in cheek Also terrifying as you are always getting charged by 50 enemies at once.
I always thought BLOOD was funny, it was an over the top horror FPS.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:42 PM on May 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think it's a bit unfair to say that Warhammer Fantasy "rips off" Tolkien's lore

And in the grim, dark blue of MetaFilter, there is ONLY FAIRNESS.
posted by No-sword at 8:13 PM on May 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


dark blue? Whoa there, them's fighting words.
posted by wilful at 8:30 PM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Heinlein (may have) "invented" power armoured space marines
I think there would be a lot more amateur SF out there if SF fans hadn't been spoiled into thinking that it should be common to invent totally original tropes for every story.

My own grade school writing came to a screeching halt similarly: I read Niven's "Ringworld", did the calculus, and realized it wasn't orbitally stable. I hurriedly wrote a story (not in Niven's ficton, but about a 'Ringmoon' type structure) where a crucial plot point was that a seemingly-abandoned ring must have something actively stabilizing it.

Then I read "The Ringworld Engineers" (which uses that exact plot point), and read about the MIT students who had deduced that instability in the 70s, and discovered that I'd "ripped off" an idea older than I was. It was as bad as that "Dave" movie that had recently stolen the plot from Heinlein's "Double Star". What if my previous stories hadn't been original either? Clearly creative writing was not for me.

If I'd been born a decade or so later I'd have been taught by TVTropes that everyone takes tropes from everyone else. ("Dave" and "Double Star" were most closely based on "The Prisoner of Zenda", which was probably inspired by "The Prince and the Pauper", which shares a key idea from "The Man in the Iron Mask", which comes from a non-fiction claim by Voltaire...) It's the execution of the tropes that counts. Being so cutting-edge that you can occasionally invent a new trope from whole cloth is nice, too, but it's hardly necessary as long as you can improve upon what you adapt.
posted by roystgnr at 8:56 PM on May 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


/still working on that list of things that rip off Avatar. It's gonna be a while.
posted by Artw at 9:06 PM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


So we're ignoring what he wrote after the title I guess?

Yes. I'm ignoring where he wrote:

- that Space Marine's similarities to Gears are 'embarrassing'
- that 'this sort of homage happens all the time'
- 'So THQ’s game is really just copying Microsoft’s Gears of War game'
- that Space Marine represents 'the dearth of creativity in video games, especially among big publishers that feel like they have to match somebody else’s hit franchise to cash in on the profits'
- that 'the similarities...are just piling up by the dozen' (basic math is apparently not one of the skills needed to be a 'gaming journalist')
- where he flat out accused THQ of copying Gears, using words like 'when you copy someone else’s game, you don’t want to copy the bad parts', in case there was any doubt he was talking about copying

That about cover it? THQ are uncreative, money-grubbing little thieves who ripped off somebody else's title so they could cash in?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:15 PM on May 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


dark blue? Whoa there, them's fighting words.

IT BEGINS.

[cue 40,000 years of intergalactic warfare of cruelty and fanaticism heretofore inconceivable]
posted by No-sword at 9:21 PM on May 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


ooh, that's nice. I was just talking to the Blood God, and he mentioned needing to pick up some skulls (for his throne, I think) next time he swung around for blood.
posted by jtron at 9:27 PM on May 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


A large, tank mounted pipe organ that shoots missiles when you hit the keys.

>Not the first time they've ripped off Nemesis the Warlock, nor, I suspect, the last.


Nemesis my fanny.

Credo!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:47 PM on May 30, 2011


The reviewer is an idiot, but setting and mechanics are separate in games. You can have a game with an old setting that rips off something that's 'younger' mechanically. Witness every crappy licensed game. Or that (probably) horrid Dante's Inferno game, which is (probably) a rip off of God of War/Devil May Cry despite being based on centuries old source. You even get weird things like the 3D Castlevania games ripping off (mechanically) franchises that are newer than Castlevania.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:01 PM on May 30, 2011


Basically when you get to the bottom of it, everything is just a rip off of me.
posted by fuq at 10:44 PM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Heinlein (may have) "invented" power armoured space marines

EE Doc Smith actually, like he did everything else in SF.


But to answer the question the OP posits, I thought the thread the other day has established that there were no more need for "experts" any more, and we could all just read Wikipedia. Therefore the obvious answer is that "No, journalists don't need to know anything about the thing they're reviewing, because they can just look at other web sites, and parrot what the people there say."
posted by happyroach at 11:14 PM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


The first result for 'space marines' in Wiki is the 4K link.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:21 PM on May 30, 2011


OMG WIKILEAKS IS STEALING GEARS FROM BILL GATES
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:45 AM on May 31, 2011


[cue 40,000 years of intergalactic warfare of cruelty and fanaticism heretofore inconceivable]

*glues skulls to all of his stuff, argues with wife over her getting a bowl haircut*
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:44 AM on May 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's still too bad the Warhamer Fantasy MMO didn't do better. I wonder how the 40k version from Vigil will fare.
posted by the_artificer at 4:07 AM on May 31, 2011


Gears of War, the relentlessly brown X-Box game

Hey, that's a bit unfair to Gears Of War. GoW has continued to break new ground in simulating various shades of brown for over 5 years now. It has been benchmarked as the brownest game on the Xbox 360, with 12.6% more giga-browns than the next-brownest game. It takes a lot of work to get that brown.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:14 AM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Plus the DLC comes with 46 new shades of brown for just 800 MS points. That's less than 18MSP per brown! Beat that, Halo!
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:15 AM on May 31, 2011 [6 favorites]


"Space Marine" should really refer to a particular microgenre of schlocky Starship Troopers-influenced military science fiction. You know, A Space Marine Is You.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:45 AM on May 31, 2011


It takes a lot of work to get that brown.

How much more brown could it get? None. None more brown.
posted by Justinian at 2:02 PM on May 31, 2011


He's a terrible reviewer, and he should get shit. That being said, I'm not sure I totally disagree with his reaction. My thought, when I first started seeing info about this game, was: "All the crazy-ass awesome shit that's in WH40K, and they chose Space Marines? I can play those in any damn game."

And Relic's response doesn't really change that for me. "Well, there's no cover system" - Okay, but there weren't cover systems in the hundreds of FPS' I played previous to GOW. And lots of those were with space marines. Vs. weird-skinned space soldiers. ..and so on.

You could have picked literally any other class from WH and I would have been more excited. Just because the ideas in WH kicked off a genre doesn't mean that the genre in question hasn't been done to death already.
posted by lumpenprole at 3:11 PM on May 31, 2011


lumpenprole, I don't know if GW had any influence over the choice, however they've been pushing SM as the gateway drug to their universe for a long time. I suspect the margins are far higher on those plastics than on other figs!
posted by wilful at 4:02 PM on May 31, 2011


"Journalism" is a word seldom used with accuracy.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:37 PM on May 31, 2011


Yeah, like it or not, the Space Marines are the iconic guys from 40K.

That said, I'd love a third-person shooter with the Imperial Guard -- every time you die (which should be every couple of minutes at the most) the player-character switches to a random Guardsman/woman close by. Bonus points for Commissars who randomly wander around the rear lines and shoot you dead if you're not pointing toward the enemy...
posted by vorfeed at 6:39 PM on May 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sort of a Star Wars: Battlefront type of thing? I could actually see that working incredibly well for the setting. Especially if you have some control over what sorts of things you put in your army, and how to stock them - maybe you have 500 Guardsmen, or maybe you have 200 Guardsmen and 50 Stormtroopers, or maybe you have 200 Guardsmen and 40 Ogryn, etc etc etc.
posted by kafziel at 8:01 PM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Especially if you have some control over what sorts of things you put in your army, and how to stock them - maybe you have 500 Guardsmen, or maybe you have 200 Guardsmen and 50 Stormtroopers, or maybe you have 200 Guardsmen and 40 Ogryn, etc etc etc.

Yes, exactly. Except every five or six games the Munitorum randomly encounters an administrative error and sends 40 floating skull-headed choir-infants instead of the Ogryns. Then everyone dies, to the dulcet strains of Ave Imperator.
posted by vorfeed at 8:42 PM on May 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


lumpenprole writes "My thought, when I first started seeing info about this game, was: 'All the crazy-ass awesome shit that's in WH40K, and they chose Space Marines? I can play those in any damn game.' "

Space Marines are bizarrely popular on the table top too; I've never understood the draw.

Orks are bloody awesome though. My new favourite toy is the Shokk Attack Gun. How can you not love a weapon that fires living creatures (snotlings) through a space time warp into the bodies of your enemies where the now insane snotlings claw and bite the enemy from the inside out while attempting to escape.
posted by Mitheral at 11:20 PM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm the other way: I'd happily play Epic scale or regular Warhammer with nothing but Marines. Orks, Squats etc - meh. It always felt like two separate games smooshed together - a serious, dark, sweeping drama like Dune, and some Saturday morning kid's cartoon with snot jokes.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:41 AM on June 1, 2011


All the crazy-ass awesome shit that's in WH40K, and they chose Space Marines?

I remember when a few years ago they tried this thing and everyone said "Why the Tau? Everyone wants to be a Space Marine".
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 3:26 AM on June 1, 2011


everyone said "Why the Tau? Everyone wants to be a Space Marine"

Hey, some of us would rather be Guardsmen. Space Marines are neat, conceptually, but more as a thing that is, rather than a thing you are. There's a reason Dark Heresy is all inquisitorial and is awesome, while Deathwatch was a latecomer and not a game where there's much to do.
posted by kafziel at 1:02 PM on June 1, 2011


The Tau are the poochies of the WH40k universe.
posted by Artw at 2:54 PM on June 1, 2011


At least they're not elfdar.
posted by kafziel at 3:13 PM on June 1, 2011


TBH if they wanted more robots and cod philosophy to appeal to Anime kids the Eldar really should have been the place to put them... But I guess they wanted something less 40kish.
posted by Artw at 3:25 PM on June 1, 2011


I want a Necron RPG. Occasionally a dialogue box pops up, but the only response choice is "...".
posted by Peztopiary at 6:44 AM on June 3, 2011 [1 favorite]




In the grim darkness of the future, there is only Warhammer 40k MMORPG Dark Millenium Online.

Wow, if that's actually an action MMO, it might be very cool. Note to developers: I still long for a space MMO with Wing Commander style real-time combat...
posted by vorfeed at 11:00 AM on June 8, 2011


Sigh. Development started on the 40k MMO about four months after I started in the game industry. That would put it spring of 2006? I don't have any particular insider knowledge about the actual game, but a 7 year development time is not historically a great sign.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:03 AM on June 8, 2011


Waht? No! That's SEVEN YEARS WORTH OF AWESOME they got to pack into it!*

* Development does not work like this.
posted by Artw at 11:04 AM on June 8, 2011


Waht? No! That's SEVEN YEARS WORTH OF AWESOME they got to pack into it!*

It is truly going to be the MOST AWESOME scrolling side-shooter ever made.
posted by happyroach at 7:38 PM on June 8, 2011


Well, to be fair, the original title was Warhammer 40k MMORPG Daikatana Millennium Forever.
posted by vorfeed at 9:22 PM on June 8, 2011


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