Get ready for it… this is the first Space Hulk game released in over 17 years!
In the 41st Millennium there is only War!!! Based on the Warhammer 40,000 tactical board game, Space Hulk pits the ferocious Space Marine Terminators from the Blood Angels Chapter against the horrifying Tyranid Genestealers. However the whole game is set within the corridors of a derelict space craft where no one can hear you scream. Unfortunately you are more likely to be yawning instead as the turn based gameplay becomes a very slow and arduous endeavour. Developer Full Control has attempted to remain completely faithful to the board game even including a small display showing the results of each “dice roll” but in the process have created some rather flat gameplay.
The game itself plays well enough; it just takes too damn long to do it. Each level begins with the player deploying a squad of Terminators and then proceeding to fight their way through a maze of corridors. Action points or AP are used to control each member of your squad. However with only 4 AP’s per unit and 6 Commands Points (Bonus AP) to be used across the squad each turn progresses slowly, at times painfully so. This problem is compounded by the unit animations are which are quite clunky and repetitious. Even though the Tactical Dreadnaught Armour of the Terminators should see them conveyed as slower walking behemoths the movement over multiple spaces feels far too draw out, with the “take two steps to move one space, pause, take two steps to move one space, pause” formula becoming a bit of a grind.
However it’s not all bad as Full Control has put in some serious effort into the little details with the character models looking pretty bad-ass with bolts of energy cascading over lightning claws and thunder hammers and golden skulls and winged aquila’s adorning the armour. The art is definitely top notch, but it would be nice to see some different skins maybe in future DLC as there is a huge universe to draw upon that could allow for some crazy customization. The addition of the POV cameras for each Terminator is also a nice touch, showing a fuzzy eerie view of the dark corridors. Although this may have worked out a little better if you couldn’t already see the enemies beforehand.
Honestly though it really comes down to whether or not you have the patience to sit through the sequences. If you do then the game actually can be rather enjoyable as the various missions begin to increase in difficulty pitting you against larger numbers of genestealers forcing you to adapt your tactics. Every move begins to count as you have to plan for the next wave of attackers especially when the genestealers tend to make mincemeat out of the standard terminator once they are in close combat. The corridors become deathtraps while the intersections become kill zones from which to lay waste to any xeno scum. The intersections are where a little feature called Overwatch comes in handy. Overwatch allows a Terminator equipped with a long range weapon to fire on any line of site enemy during the opposing sides turn. However it also carries the risk of a gun jam or malfunction which costs 1 CP to resolve further adding to the strategic planning aspects of the game. In fact most of the games tension comes down to the dice roll where weapons can jam and attacks can miss as the enemy inches closer and closer. Figuring out how to take these positions, and escape from them once you’re ready to move on becomes the main puzzle to crack.
Besides that it comes down to how you use the various weapon load outs which starts out with the basic Storm Bolters and Power Fists, eventually growing to include Heavy Flamer and Auto-cannons as well as close combat favourites such as Lightning Claws, Power Swords and Thunder Hammers.
Overall Space Hulk isn’t a terrible game it just doesn’t translate as well to a video game format without some fundamental changes in gameplay. After the intense fire fights of the Dawn of War series many 40K fans will find the change of pace off putting and players who aren’t fans of the board game will probably find it rather dull. The games units are do look pretty cool but they just aren’t enough to hold you if you start to get bored. However for the board game aficionado it offers a cheaper alternative and it’s when playing with similar minded friends that this game can really shine. The challenge of human players than know the universe allows for some serious fun as player’s charge in the name of the Emperor to exterminate the xenos infestation.
Nice art and graphics
Cheaper than the board game
Some decent strategy and variation in later levels
Limited options with AP
Written by Sam Babu