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The action-platformer where you're a 40K ork is better than I expected


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I'm not interested in complaints about the number of Warhammer 40,000 games being made today. Back when THQ was the sole license owner there were a lot of years when all we'd get is an expansion for the latest Dawn of War if we were lucky, and no amount of "please sir, can I have some more" made a difference. 

And now that anyone can rock up to the skull-knocker I imagine on the door at Games Workshop HQ and hand over their pitch for a videogame to the blank-eyed cyberzombie who deals with visitors, we've seen enough quality releases to make this approach worthwhile. Recent highlights have included Battlesector and Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters, and we've got Darktide, Rogue Trader, and Space Marine 2 to look forward to.

Even so, I gotta say I wasn't holding my breath for Shootas, Blood & Teef. It's a run-and-gun sidescroller from Rogueside, a studio previously responsible for a couple of similar-looking 2D action-platformers about mobsters called Guns, Gore & Cannoli. In Rogueside's latest you're not a tommygun-toting Italian-American stereotype who shoots zombies for some reason, but rather a bolter-toting Cockney stereotype whose favorite word is "WAAAAAGH!"

You're fighting your way across the war-torn Imperial world of Luteus on a quest to get back your hair. Well, the fungal creature called a squig that used to live on your head and serve for hair.  To do that, you blast your way through the Imperial Guard, genestealers, your fellow orks, and eventually space marines alone or with up to three friends. It's a kind of 40K Metal Slug, or maybe a faster-paced, green Commander Keen. 

There's a lot of jumping up and down levels, pausing to either clear a room whose exit won't unlock until you wipe out several waves, or maybe turn a valve to open a new area, or fight a boss. When your health is low you hunt for a health squig to eat (they wear mirrors strapped to their heads like old-timey physicians), and when your grenades are low you hunt for a crate of ammo. There are also boxes of teeth scattered around that serve as currency, letting you buy new guns as well as purely cosmetic hats, which you also earn as rewards for killing certain bosses. Which is why my ork is currently wearing a pirate bicorn.

There are four classes, my favorite being the Beast Snagga Boy who can throw an exploding spear, and whose grenade is a squig with dynamite strapped round its head like a barrister's wig that runs up to enemies, bites them, and explodes. 

An ork fights genestealers

(Image credit: Rogueside)

Every checkpoint is a Mek Shop where you can tweak your loadout or spend teeth on guns. I'm partial to the Double Barrel Boomstikk shotgun, the Bolta, and the Killsaw, which is a gun that's actually just a chainsaw. Everything is of course written and shouted in orkish, and as with Dakka Squdron, the game where you're an ork fighter pilot in a junkyard WWII-looking bomber, you'll need a tolerance for cutscenes where people shout "WAAAAGH!" I wish they'd throw in the occasional chorus of "'Ere we go!" but it's pretty much all "WAAAAGH" apart from the odd "DAKKA DAKKA DAKKA!"

The art style makes everyone look rectangular, like characters from one of the Warhammer webcomics or maybe old plastic miniatures. It's not a look I'm used to in 40K videogames, but as soon as I saw an Imperial commissar get so angry his peaked cap spontaneously left his head, did a little flip, and returned to its position I was sold. It's cartoonish and a bit primitive, just like an ork.

An ork shoots an imperial guard beneath a burning gunship

(Image credit: Rogueside)

One of the only complaints I was planning to make is that a boss fight against a tank called the Bastion of Valor dragged on a bit long, but the first patch has already rebalanced that. However, Shootas, Blood & Teef did crash a few times in the 2.7 hours Steam says I've been playing for, so hopefully the next patch can address the stability.

In that time I've made it pretty close to the end of the story mode, but there's still a couple of guns and a lot of hats left to unlock. (I'm tempted by the one that looks like a servo-skull has landed on your head.) If you're the kind of player who always replays the campaign on Hard and tries to get all the achievements it'll be better value, but if you're a 'one and done' kind of player who uninstalls a game the instant credits roll you should be aware it's a bit short. If you play with friends you'll get more value out of it that way too.

Warhammer 40,000: Shootas, Blood & Teef is out now on Steam, GOG, and the Epic Games Store.

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