In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war. I remember reading this in a Warhammer rulebook when I was a wee lad. I thought it was the coolest introduction to anything I’d ever read. A bleak volley to the face. A statement of intent. The thing is, and whisper this quietly, it isn’t quite true.
In the grim darkness of the far future, there are laughs and adventure too. Satire and fun. There are nights sat meticulously painting and there are days spent rolling shedloads of dice. Warhammer is many things to many people, sometimes several things at the same time. It’s why the franchise has endured 35 years, and it’s why there are so many different games in so many different genres. Warhammer can be a taxing RTS. It can be an over-the-shoulder shooter. And it can be this: Shootas, Blood & Teef, a hair-metal infused run and gun game that takes itself about as seriously as a clown made of jelly. With sprinkles. Dancing the macarena.
You (and some friends) play as Orks. At the beginning of the game, another Ork steals your hat. And you murder your way through waves and waves of enemies to get it back. Your mileage may vary, but I found all the Orky stuff to be genuinely funny. The cut-scenes are voiced with a plethora of silly voices and noises and the entire thing is brimming with character. However, if you’re not a fan of creatures yelling ‘Waaaagggghhh’ in a vaguely cockney accent, you might find the entire thing irritating. It’s big, simple, and stupid.
The theme of big, simple, and stupid carries over to the entire game. If you’ve played Contra or Metal Slug, you’ll know exactly the score here. Move around 2D platforms, shooting things in the face. Like Metal Slug, half of the fun is watching how much cartoonish violence you can inflict. Here, your Big Shoota takes the heads of poor Guardsmen, sending them slumping to the ground in a fountain of blood. This commitment to excess means that your shots feel impactful, and the core gameplay loop of running, jumping, and gunning is really satisfying.
Unfortunately, melee attacks in comparison feel floaty. Orks are known for hitting things with big sticks. We’d have loved to have seen more satisfying melee attacks be part of your arsenal. I guess it’s a big enough arsenal as it is. You have a pistol, a shotgun, a machine gun, and a rocket launcher. That’s a lot of firepower. Plus, all of these weapons can be upgraded using Teef – the in-game currency you find littered around levels. You can fine-tune your aiming with the right-stick, too, with just enough auto lock-on to help make things fun.
All these weapons come in handy, because the game throws a lot at you, including the occasional boss. A certain fight against a tank caused us to die a lot. It’s a good job then that restating is relatively painless and quick.
Things aren’t all positive, though. Despite literally fighting on a heavy metal concert stage, the music is quite forgettable, and the graphics show the budget limitations. They’re clear and simple enough but are quite stiffly articulated. That’s a real shame because beautiful artwork is one of the key reasons I fell in love with Warhammer.
The other thing we need to talk about is performance. The game throws a lot at the screen, and the Switch isn’t always up for it. Strangely, however, the fact the game is so over the top actually serves to make the occasional frame rate drop a feature. The game is putting too much on screen. Too much is happening. There are too many enemies, too many bullets, too much gore. The slowdown offers a time to reflect on the madness of it all. Almost. Oh, and the loading times are dreadful.
It isn’t a particularly long game, clocking in at around 5 hours. Although we would say that it doesn’t outlast its welcome. There are loads of collectibles, an achievements system, and other character classes there if you want to jump back in. Although we can’t say we felt overly compelled to return to the well. It’s like going back to a party. These things have a shelf life. There’s also co-op, but I couldn’t test it prior to penning this review.
Shootas, Blood & Teef is joyful and fun, and over the top. If you want an unsubtle explosion of gore, viscera, and guts then this is the game for you.
Rogueside’s Warhammer 40,000: Shootas, Blood & Teef is out now on all formats. Reviewed on Switch. Physical and collector’s editions are available.