Hands-onWarhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior

THQ and Kuju team up to bring the Warhammer franchise to the PlayStation 2.

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At a recent press event, THQ took the wraps off its upcoming shooter set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior. The first-person game is being developed by UK-based Kuju for the PlayStation 2 and PC. We had a chance to play an early build of the PlayStation 2 version that was on hand.

The game is set in the 41st millennium, during which a military force known as the Imperium has become the top reason why life sucks. Fierce battles between the space marines, imperial guardsmen, orks, and tau have spilled over into thousands of worlds. Skirmishes between war machines and starship fleets have negatively impacted the property value of planets touched by the conflicts. The game will span a 24-hour period in the life of a tau warrior whose seemingly hassle-free rescue mission pulls him into a much larger conflict that could have a significant impact on the future.

Fortunately, the future appears to be in good hands, based on what we saw of the game. The controls in Fire Warrior are extremely easy to pick up, thanks to their similarity to the control scheme in Microsoft's Halo. Although it was early, the build of the game ran pretty well. The control was responsive and handled well once you got a feel for it.

The build we tried started with a firefight in an enclosed area that spilled out into a more open area. While you can collect any weapon you find in the game, you can carry only two weapons at any time, which requires you to think twice about swapping in new weapons. Sure, the new pistol you find looks cool, but will it be handy against whatever you'll encounter deeper in a level? You'll find yourself pondering that often as you come across the 15 weapons in the game. An interesting new element tied to the game's weapons is the intelligent ammunition feature, which lets you store ammo for every gun you can use, even if you're not carrying it.

The graphics in the game are coming together nicely and do a fine job of painting a desolate picture of the future. You'll see a mix of indoor and outdoor areas, both of which feature solid detail. You'll also find a decent amount of texture detail, although it's a bit hard to tart up some of the desolate settings we saw. Given the amount of destruction the ongoing conflict has caused in the outdoor areas, the interior areas featured a bit more eye candy. Still, the overall scope of the areas was impressive, as was the game's frame rate, which was pretty solid.

Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior is coming together pretty well on the PlayStation 2. The game features accessible control, solid graphics, and an interesting story line. While we weren't able to try it, the game's multiplayer mode will support four players in split-screen deathmatch and CTF games. Although we'll admit to being disappointed that the PlayStation 2 version won't support online play (the PC game is slated to support eight players online), Kuju appears to be on the right track. Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior is currently slated for release this fall on the PlayStation 2 and PC. We'll have more on the game in the coming months.

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