Earlier this week, we brought you word that Warhammer 40,000: Carnage had made the trip from iOS to Android. Warhammer 40K is a popular tabletop role-playing game set within a dark science-fantasy universe. Rival factions of humans, orcs, and other species fighting endless wars in the far future – that's Warhammer. The property has inspired countless books and videogames, of which Carnage is the latest one.
Upon its release, Warhammer 40K: Carnage wasn't flagged as compatible with my EVGA Tegra Note 7 tablet. Developers Roadhouse Interactive have kindly (and quickly) enabled compatibility so that we can bring you these hands-on impressions with video. And since Carnage is only available as a premium app, you might want to know how it works and see it in action before buying. Hey, we're here to help!
Less role, more playing
Although Warhammer 40K: Carnage's story comes from fantasy author Graham McNeill, don't expect much cinematic presentation from this game. The story is told through text screens as the game loads in and out of levels, so it's really easy to miss the overall narrative. That said, the game features an extensive Codex with fascinating written descriptions of the locations, enemies, and items that players will encounter.
To start with, you control a max-level Ultramarine as he embarks on a mission to rescue some space ladies from invading Orcs. Once he runs into the "boss" of the tutorial level, the perspective switches to that of a beginning-level soldier who is sent to investigate the previous character's fate. That's who you'll play and level up throughout the game. A pretty clever way to execute a familiar gaming trope, I must admit.
Run and gun it
Warhammer 40K: Carnage is a 2.5D run-and-gun shooter in the vein of SNK's Metal Slug series. During each level, players will run from left to right while shooting and stabbing everything along the way. Although the levels are highly linear, they do feature the occasional alternate path and some mild platforming. But the main focus is definitely on dispatching enemies and minimizing damage to your character, not exploration.
The controls are fairly simple. Left and right arrows on the left side of the screen control the Ultramarine's movement, while a nearby up arrow allows him to block enemy attacks. At the right side of the screen are melee, ranged attack, and jump buttons. Our hero can also perform melee combos, jetpack boosts, ground pounds, charged shots, and other advanced maneuvers – depending on his equipment.
I have found a few quirks with the controls so far. For one thing, you can't fire diagonally – only straight ahead or behind. That restricts the character's gunplay just a bit, but it's not a huge deal.
More concerning is the layout of the three action buttons on the right side of the screen. The layout is nothing like established standards for action platformers. Jump should be on the bottom and melee (which players will use less than guns) on the right, not the left. Hopefully the developers will add the ability to reposition buttons in the future; this is still a very new game, after all. And MOGA controller support would be great too. Update: Repositionable controls are definitely coming, according to the developers!
Missions and equipment
Carnage offers a variety of levels spread across two alien environments. The levels are nice and short, perfect for mobile play. After a level's first completion, two harder objectives will unlock. For each completed objective, players receive a star rating based on factors like score and damage taken during the level. Reaching three stars unlocks the Fireteam mission for that level and objective combination.
Fireteam Missions are Carnage's asynchronous multiplayer levels. Launch one, invite your Facebook or Google+ friends, and then everyone has 24 hours to complete the shared objective. The rewards are a special currency that you can only get from Fireteam Missions, so you'll definitely want to do them. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to successfully launch one of these missions yet – it seems you need to have friends who play the game before you can successfully launch one. Send me a Google+ friend request, guys!
When you complete a level, you'll receive a random assortment of loot. You don't actually get to keep all of it – each item costs a certain amount of currency. So you pick and choose the equipment that you most need and can afford. It's a little different, but not a bad system. The sheer variety of weapons, armor, and accessories on offer provide a lot of customization options and incentive for replay.
More war to come
That's it for my first impressions of Warhammer 40,000: Carnage. So far, the game looks great and is a lot of fun to play. I'll spend some more time working through the campaign (and hopefully getting Fireteam Missions to work) in preparation for our full review. In the meantime, Warhammer 40K and run-and-gun fans should consider Carnage a fairly safe bet. It sells for $6.99 on Google Play.