Space Hulk – Review

Hello again, time to dive back into the blogosphere and cover a few of my favourite things in one review. Warhammer 40k, Space Marines, Board Games, PC/Video Games and things I can buy from Steam.

Thats right folks, the classic ‘Space Hulk’ board game developed and eventually repackaged in a nice new bundle by Games Workshop a few years ago, has now been remastered for the modern age in a rather sharp-looking video game format. The game itself is now available on Steam for £22.99 (PC/MAC), For those unaware of this game the launch trailer is available here:

Now, as a Warhammer enthusiast, this game was a natural pick up for me and I think this will apply to the core of gamers out there, whether you have merely flirted with the collection of tiny plastic men or if you still continue to slave and pay your way into glorious battles at your local gaming store/group. Nostalgia as usual plays a large part in making this game successful, much like the similar GW digital release ‘Talisman’.

The recreation of this game for PC/Mac is a nearly seemless transition from the tabletop to the medium-sized screen, it’s still the same, dice rolling, bug destroying crusade through a creepy derelict ship with disaster or glory awaiting around each narrow badly lit corridor. So lets talk over the real meat, the premise, gameplay, controls, visuals, all that good stuff.

The Repackaged Space Hulk Kit

The Premise

For those unfamiliar with the game and its history I’m going to sum it up briefly, however one of the things I’d like to note is the rich and diverse background which makes 40k such a huge success is also very relevant to this game and only aids in its relative success.

In this game you take control of squads of Blood Angel ‘Terminators’, these are heavily armoured and heavily equipped ‘Space Marines’ of the 41st millennium,  who are tasked to march through a Space Hulk, (a cluster of derelict ships smashed together into one lumbering monstrosity.)  Whilst traversing they will destroy the foul xenos threat of the Tyranid Genestealers, while gathering ancient relics, new equipment and information as they go through the Space Hulk known as the Sin of Damnation, which contains the long-lost ship ‘The Wrath of Baal’ which is a long-lost piece of the Blood Angels proud history serving the ‘Imperium of Man.’

Terminator vs Genestealer – 50/50 Odds?

The Review

The gameplay is completely loyal to the board game version, everything from the action/command point system used to control your forces, down to the dice rolling mechanics which are even dictated to you in the text log or visually on-screen. In each scenario you are tasked with deploying your terminators in their squads and using them to traverse the ship to achieve each goal. Each Terminator has 4 action points to spend in each turn, these can be used for a variety of actions:

Moving: Moving a Terminator forwards costs 1 AP. Moving a Terminator backwards costs 2 AP.
Turning: Turning a Terminator costs 1 AP, turning a full 180 degrees costs 2 AP.
Opening/Closing Doors: Allows you to control doors for 1 AP.
Shooting: Shooting Storm Bolters costs 1 AP, Shooting special weapons (Flamer/Assault Cannon) costs 2 AP. Close Combat: Close Combat costs 1 AP.
Guarding: Allows re-rolling in combat for 2 AP.
Overwatch: Automatically shoot any moving targets for 2 AP.

Basic Layout of the Game

Along side this you gain a random amount of ‘Command Points’ each turn, these are essentially extra action points that can be used by any Terminator in your squads. Interestingly if your squads have a Librarian you are actually allowed to re-roll the number of Command Points generated each turn. Each turn more genestealers will appear to ruin your carefully laid out plans, these initially appear as ‘Blips’ until spotted by a Terminator, which then reveals how many Genestealers are beneath the blip.

The game is challenging and fun, however I would suggest you prepare to lose, as with most games based on the roll of a dice, the dice gods can be unforgiving, however while it can be a tricky game to master, the game tends to move on at a good pace, enough to keep you interested without becoming too tedious. There are 3 introductory missions for those new to the game and a full set of 12 scenarios to complete aboard the Sin of Damnation, using a mix of several squads and characters most of you will recognise from the board game. Several members of your squads have different and useful abilities to help you achieve your goals, several carry sophisticated Close Combat Weapons such as Lightning Claws, Chainfists and Thunder Hammer/Storm Shield although sometimes at the risk of giving up ranged abilities (which are generally more reliable/safe). There are two members who carry special ranged weapons, one is carrying a Heavy Flamer which can be used to scorch Genestealers or to provide flamed areas which the Genestealers will struggle or die trying to cross. Finally we have the sergeants with enhanced combat abilities and then the Librarian, who out with his sergeant combat abilities and ranged weapons, he also has access to psychic powers which allow him to seal areas, blow the minds of genestealer(s) or to transfer his psychic abilities into extra command points.

Overall the game is a lot of fun, as someone who had not played an abundance of Space Hulk on the tabletop (even though I own a copy….. unopened, and unloved.) I really enjoyed it. While it can become irritating if luck is not on your side there is a lot of replay value and as mentioned the pace keeps it from becoming stale. Visually there is only so much that can be done with the setting however I like to think that they have truly hit the

nail on the head. Visually it masters the gloomy and eerie atmosphere of the gore stained corridors you will worryingly tread. However the character models and animations do leave something to be desired, the Terminators walking look like baby hippos learning to walk and it kind of cuts into the fast paced action of the game. However the style and characters are perfect even if it isn’t perfectly animated.

Control wise there are very few issues with this game, it plays very simply. the controls are customisable and thankfully they decided to add an undo button to correct any mistakes you will make throughout, which can be often if you are not careful with movement/turning animations. However this is again a negligible problem and no worse than any other strategy game of this nature. However the only problem with the undo button is that it can technically allow you to cheat, I discovered this during one of the later scenarios in which you must destroy a vast number of genestealers, if you were to for example shoot at a genestealer and miss if you undo the action and shoot again, the dice re-roll and thus you may succeed on your next attempt. This is gamebreaking so my advice is ignore you can do this, I managed to clear the game on normal without having to succumb to this, so If I can manage, you should be rolling through this game on hard without any problems. Speaking of which, in Hard mode there is a Timer to really put the pressure on players, it only gives the Space Marine player a short window in which to complete his turn, making every move crucial.

As a final note this game does feature multi-player, either through a LAN or Online play, adding a lot to this games replay value, however I would like to point out if you are playing locally, just get the board game if you can, it’s a lot more fun, the models are great and ultimately I feel you can never beat the real thing.

So overall this is a great game, while short (if you are lucky) there is a lot to replay value and hopefully we will see some additional content to add to this game in the near future. If you are unable to get the real thing I can’t stress how much you should pick this title up. While there are other games which may do this genre better, if you are a Warhammer fan you will love this and after all it saves having to build/paint your own kit.

Thats all for now folks, so please, Purge the Xenos and Uphold the Glory of the Emperor and your Chapter. Failing that play this game and have fun.

Score: 8/10

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