Game review: Space Hulk
The classic board game Space Hulk, has been made into a computer game. I ventured into the depths of the genestealer infested hulk to take a look.
Fans of the board game, or the Warhammer 40K universe, will feel right at home in this game. The intro cinematic immediately sets the tone and setting of the game. A group of Blood Angel space marines are venturing into a space hulk, that claimed many of their battle brothers 600 years earlier and you are the one to control them. The concept art is great and 100% true to the Warhammer 40K universe. The graphics are quite good, though many animations are reused, which makes it a bit repetetive at times. The game consists of a single player campaign and a hot seat/multiplayer versus mode, that allows you to play against your friend in one of the campaign levels.
The campaign consists of ten levels that takes you through the space hulk to retrieve an artifact. You can play each level on three different difficulties.
Easy: you have easier close combat and your bolters can’t jam.
Normal: Like the board game.
Hard: Maximum 4 command points (6 normally) and a limited time for each turn.
I took normal and teleported in.
The story is unimportant exists solely to provide texture to the, otherwise, repetetive maps. You have one or two squads, and on one level, four squads, and you have to get from point A to B without losing a specific squad member or have enough juice in your flamer to destroy something at the end. After a level or two I found a, in my opinion, easy way to complete the levels. Run as fast as you can, and on occasion set one of your marines to do overwatch down a hallway because melee is almost certain death for your marine. And remember to have command points in case his bolter jams, so he doesn’t get overrun. Half way through the game you get a librarian in your squad, and this tactic becomes even easier, as he can block a square for one round for two of his twenty psy points. This does make some of the levels trivial, but if it’s not a part of the objective to kill genestealers, then there is no reason to do so as there are endless numbers of them. It must be said that everything in this game is settled with a roll of the dice, and thus even the perfect tactic can be broken if your bolter jams four times in a row and a genestealer breaks your line, or something similar. There is one level that requires you to hold a position until you kill sixty or so genestealers and this was the hardest level for me, because it comes down to how lucky you are with the dice.
On a few occasions, the marines move unexpectedly. They walk backwards instead of turning, or decide to walk up to the target to shoot it instead of holding their position and it is probably for this reason they made an “undo” button that reverse your latest action. This is a good feature, and I would get very frustrated if it wasn’t there. But it also gives the player a way to cheat. You can undo your shooting action until you get a hit if you are so inclined, but as with every cheat, you can just choose not to. I bought the game on steam and there is a number of achievements, some are for the whole playthrough and some are for specific levels and I recommend trying to get the level specific achievements if you want to make the game slightly more difficult, and still play on normal mode.
After playing most of the campaign I grabbed a fellow writer and set off to make his playthrough harder by playing the genestealers in his game. For some reason this is not done through steam, but you have to make an account and add each other as friends. This is not a problem, since you just have to select user name and password, no emails involved. You quickly get in game, but you get no introduction on how to play the genestealers, so here is my advice. Make sure you have room to place all the genestealers that is in your blip, and you can’t place them in line of sight of a marine. You can also only reveal your genestealers before you move them, not after. The game becomes a lot harder in multiplayer because the genestealers probably no longer just charge the shortest route to a marine careless for their own safety and there is no “undo” button for either, which is a shame, because mistakes do occur, but I guess the downside to having one would be too much. The game went fine, I got most of his marines but in the end he cleansed the two objectives with his flamer, but the game then felt sorry for me and handed me the victory for reasons unknown.
If you enjoy the board game, and don’t have anyone readily available to play with on a regular basis, this is a good buy. It shouldn’t be compared to modern games, as it is basically a port of a 1980’s board game. It’s not original, and it’s overpriced. Unless you compare it to the actual board game, in which case it’s a bargain!
The Emperor protects!