Monday 19 August 2013

Space Hulk: Game Review

So as some of you may know (read: everyone) Thursday of last week saw the release of Danish developer Full Control ApS’s Space Hulk. This has unsurprisingly caused quite a stir in the community, and was something we here at 40k Warzone couldn’t ignore.  So after a weekend of trying to keep the honour of the Blood Angels alive I’m here now to give you the ins and outs of this revision of the 1989 GW classic board game.

Expanding on the classic Space Hulk storyline, the game follows two squads of Blood Angels Terminators as they explore the depths of the Space Hulk "Sin of Damnation" in an attempt to rescue precious Chapter Relics lost some 600 years before. Queue suitably heroic music, claustrophobic lighting and a parade of armoured badasses with mean-looking weapons.
It’s an impressive task to have taken on, considering the niche market the game is catering to, and as a few of us here have played the original board game (and indeed the two previous PC titles) when we saw this release some time ago we had high expectations. And what can I say.


The guys at Full Control have done an incredible job of delivering the mechanics and the impression of board game style gameplay, while at the same time blending very decent high-range visuals with wonderfully atmospheric sound bytes. A top down map view encourages a sense of the board game, and the over-the-shoulder Terminator cameras give you an intense close-up view of the action as the sophisticated Genestealer AI throws every tactic in the book at you. And it IS sophisticated, you can very easily find yourself surrounded or overwhelmed by the waves of Genestealers that have somehow outflanked you.

Claustrophobic tunnels and malfunctioning lighting make for an edge of your seat experience.
Your first few missions teach you the basic aspects of the Space Hulk game, and once you master the art of using Action Points and setting up fire lanes the world(hulk?) is your oyster. Wielding everything from lightening claws to assault cannons, your Terminators are an intimidating force to say the least, however one small slip can cost you the game, as there’s no back button, and no way to change your decisions (from what the developers have been saying in launch interviews this is a deliberate feature, they really want you to FEEL your error).

The Campaign becomes progressively more difficult as the mission scenarios change and objectives become more complex, leading to the development of some pretty impressive tactics to deal with the oncoming hordes. With three difficulty modes as well the missions can cater for all levels of tactical skill, from giving you bonuses to your Command Points at lower difficulties, or giving you a countdown timer at the hardest difficulty to force you to get your objectives achieved rather than playing attrition with the Genestealers.

Space Hulk also offers you the opportunity to play co-operatively as the Blood Angels with a friend, or to go head-to-head with another player (friend or random) as either of the factions while playing through one of the eleven Campaign missions. Whilst time consuming (as any good board game is) there’s a real sense of fun to these multiplayer games, as you try to outwit your opponent and seize victory against all odds. I’ve had the opportunity to play as both of the factions and I must say my preferences are leaning towards the Genestealers. There is, after all, nothing quite like eviscerating a Terminator after his storm bolter has jammed.

Or getting your revenge by toasting a room full of 'stealers.
The one downside I have found after putting in a solid 8 hours over the weekend is the limited nature of choice when it comes to multiplayer content. Only being able to choose from the few scenario missions available has the potential to be annoying in the future, however we have been promised more scenarios, units and rules in forthcoming DLC. We can only hope this game achieves enough success to be able to follow through on that promise.

I really can't stress enough how the amazing job the team at Full Control have done with this game. It looks and feels like you’re playing the board game, but gives you all those little visceral elements (like exploding corpses). With the possibility of new content in the future Space Hulk seems like a game to keep an eye on. Play with your friends, play with strangers, play with yourself (yes I realise how bad this is sounding, but let me finish. Ew.) and enjoy this game for what it is intended to be: a beautiful and nostalgic recreation of an addictive board game that brought us so many hours of fun in the past.

Hit 'em with a hammer, that always works.

I’d give it 8 out of 10 eviscerated Terminators.

Thanks for reading everyone, make good decisions,


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