Space Hulk: Tactics
Cyanide Studio/Focus Home Interactive
Space Hulk is a board game that was created by Games Workshop back in 1989, and its latest iteration is in its 4th version as of 2014. I never got into the Warhammer 40,000 universe as a kid because I wasn’t really that much into board games at the time and they were just way too expensive for what you got. Luckily, in this digital revolution, I’ve been able to enjoy many of the video games based on WH 40K, especially since Games Workshop finally eased up on being so restrictive with their IP.
There have been many attempts by game developers to create video game experiences that feel authentic to the WH 40K universe. Relic and Sega tried it with the Dawn of War series, but although the first game was spectacular, the second and third installments didn’t pass muster. As far as trying to create a game that specifically lives up to the tactical goodness of the Space Hulk board game, Streum On Studios tried to do it with Space Hulk: Deathwing, but that effort pretty much flopped.
So, Cyanide Studio is trying their hand at the Space Hulk franchise with a more literal interpretation of the board game with Space Hulk: Tactics, right down to die roll results happening in the background.
When I first checked out Space Hulk: Tactics I was impressed at how gorgeous the visuals were. The game’s attention to detail as well as its overall presentation were really top notch—it’s definitely one of the better looking WH 40K games around (besides Space Hulk: Deathwing).
As with any turn-based tactical (or RPG) game, Space Hulk: Tactics plays from an isometric vantage point. However, a big “twist” to this age old formula is that here you can switch from a bird’s eye view right down into action using the game’s first-person mode. Your big, bulky, uber-manly Terminator Space Marines certainly look and feel the part as they stomp ponderously through the dark recesses of the space hulk. They are also blessed with Tactical Vision which enables them to see right through walls.
On the enemy side of the coin are the vicious Genestealers, Xenos hybrids, and ever-deadly vanguards of the Tyranid Hive Fleet invasion forces. While Genestealers aren’t gifted with the hardened armor or advanced weaponry of the Terminators, they do possess both unnatural speed, and razor-sharp claws and fangs that can rip through said armor in seconds. They also are masters of deception as well as setting up ambushes for their intended prey.
The main battle stage of Space Hulk: Tactics is the Forsaken Doom, a humongous patched-together hunk of giant spaceships that formerly belonged to a number of different races. The maps themselves are primarily composed of narrow, claustrophobic hallways, which connect small to medium chambers which are equally cramped. Just like in the Alien films, everything is relatively dark and dismal looking—a perfect setting for well-timed Tyranid ambushes.
Space Hulk: Tactics comes with two separate campaigns—one for the Space Marines and the other for the Tyranids. As you’d probably expect, the Space Marines campaign is a pretty straight forward affair. It mainly consists of advancing to a mission objective and then positioning your Terminators at strategic spots. Their playstyle is mainly of the defensive sort and you’ll spend a lot of time placing your units on Overwatch mode and waiting for the Genestealers to rush you.
The Tyranids campaign is pretty much the opposite. You’ll constantly be on the attack, trying to trick the Terminators with false reads on their scanners while quickly maneuvering around in the shadows until you’re positioned at key ambush locations.
I must say that although the visuals are very handsome, the themes themselves are a little repetitive. The Forsaken Doom is an amalgamation of different spaceships such as Ork, Eldar, and the Imperial Navy, and you’d think you’d have a lot more variety on hand. Instead, everything feels some same-y.
The corridors and chambers are basically all the same size with the same door lock controls, etc. The AI can also be a little dicey and inconsistent, especially as you reach the game’s later levels. Sometimes the AI units will attack you in waves while other times they’ll just sit back and wait for you to engage.
Space Hulk: Tactics is a decently solid entry into the Warhammer 40,000 universe. There isn’t much in the way of innovation but that’s probably because the developers were trying to play it safe. I’d recommend checking it out on sale.
Space Hulk: Tactics features great graphics that make its tactical combat gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:
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