First of all- I feel like I should be doing this review on twitter- because the frequency of the "new" space marine codex release is so quick you'd need a web 2.0 social media client to keep up. Seriously- how long? Under 2 years. I guess this is the release speed for the 2000-teens attention span.
I don't totally dislike the new art. It's functional. It gets the job done. It's not as bad as some of the 3rd ed art, in my opinion. I'm not in the "it's totally shit" camp, but lets compare the starting point with what we have in 2015. Roll back to Rogue Trader and into 2nd edition.
Now what's the story in 2015- well it's in colour, but it doesn't quite have the same "omph"
I was actually hard pressed to find entirely new art. There are a lot of line diagrams, like Brother Alos there. And some very cluttered photographs. The best thing I can say about the photos is that they convey an idea of colour (mostly)
And there is the new "Khal Draigo"-the-ultramarine, art :p
So- lots of colour printing, not a whole lot of feeling.
So I got the limited edition, mostly for the markers and cards. I got the "Successor chapters" version because it is the only one that says "Adeptus Astartes" on the side. It's a nice matt black. It covers Ultramarines, Whit Scars, Imperial Fists, Salamanders, Raven Guard, Iron Hands ..and their successor chapters, which include luminaries such as Black Templars, Legion of the Damned and Crimson Fists.
There are 111 pages of fluff, guff, art, structural charts, diagrams, maps, photos of minis and stories. Then at page 112 you get your first actual rules.
Gladius Strike Force- new decurion style detachment-containing-formations. Nice
A wargear list.
Then 58 unit entries. Wow. That is a lot of units. Each is a page has type/ name/ cost header, a photo of the model, more fluff/guff, a listing of the rules and a listing of the options. But most of the special rules are NOT on the page, rather there is a page reference. The digital copy will be awesome, this- you need to know all your special rules for your army.
And then- 13 formations.. which is good, flexible, maybe a lot compared to some codexes.
So from a content point of view. Yikes that is a lot. And I get that they would need a double page to add the rules in. So it's a compromise. I guess I'm getting the digital enhanced as well.
There are a lot of rules here and this is just a first look ..but..
Dreadnoughts. Compared to Helbrutes at exactly the same cost.. base 4 attacks and get Chapter Tactics- which are good I might add, still 100 points. Bah
Assault squads and devastators cost the same as basic marines- you just get different upgrades- jump packs for assault cost 3/pts a model. Noice.
I would say, with a few exceptions, most units get a minor buff in close combat- cheaper power weapons on vanguard, more attacks on the dread etc, but maybe not enough to bring them up to meta./Eldar
It's formations where things come unstuck. They are YIKES.
Use one psyker to cast any of your powers as long as within 12". Make those warp charge checks on a 3+ or 2+ if 3 are within 12". Zap!
Ignore everything except wrecked if within 6" of another landraider. Re-roll to wound gargantuan creatures or penetrate armour.
Everything gets objective secured. Nice. Get another Tactical doctrine use. Nice. Seems balanced. 440 points in their basic equipment. Where is the problem? Take 2 of them in a gladius detachment...which of course means you are fielding a complete battle company (of 5 man squads- so really at half strength). .. and you get your razorbacks, rhinos, drop pods for free. You would also need an "Auxiliary" unit- which can be complied for about 165 point if you want
Anyway, that will, no doubt produce the sea of vehicles we used to see in 5th edition. Mobile cover at best. I.. I'm scratching my head. Competitive, um, maybe? Sell a lot of mins. Probably.