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Space Hulk Tactics Review

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Title:  Space Hulk Tactics
Developer:  Cyanide
Publisher: Focus Home Entertainment
Website:  http://spacehulk-tactics.com
Genre: Turn Based Strategy
Platform:  Xbox One
Audience:  RTS and Warhammer fans
Release Date:  09/10/2018
Price:  £34.99 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review copy for this game.

What the Developers say

Space Hulk Tactics is a turn-based strategy game set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, pitting squads of Space Marine Terminators against swarms of alien Genestealers aboard massive amalgamations of abandoned starships called Space Hulks.


Based on the classic Games Workshop boardgame, Space Hulk: Tactics lets you pick between these two factions in full campaigns, solo vs. AI, or competitive online play.

A new card system enhances the turn-based strategy gameplay, ensuring no two games are ever the same and giving you many more tactical options on every turn. With a map creation tool also available, you will never run out of new scenarios to play.

Introduction

Space Hulk was one of the first Games Workshop table top games I played in my youth. With a Dad who was, and indeed still is, heavily interested in wargaming it was inevitable that I would garner some sort of interest over the years. However, as my interest moved more towards video gaming the world of 40K has become a bit of a distant memory. Very happy memories mind you!

Space Hulk Tactics will challenge the player to think on the fly as allies fall and the AI pushes you to your limits. So what did I think of it? Read through this Rapid Review and you’ll find out.

Looks and Sounds

Tactics is a bit of a mixed bag visually. Despite being developed in UE4, textures can be bland, and there are a few strange graphical bugs during cutscenes. Quite often a marine might be out of shot, but you’ll still see armour ornaments flash into the scene or during camera cuts they’re flapping about all over the place like there’s some invisible tornado surrounding them.

On the other hand, the Terminator armour is highly detailed with each unit type being visually distinguishable from the other. The Genestealer also look suitably vicious and are presented in their classic blue, four-armed, razor-clawed glory.

Environments aren’t much to write home about and have very few graphical flourishes. It feels a little unfair to criticise them though when the subject matter is several chunks of metal smashed together. They’re true to their roots, but more could have been done to make them feel alive.

But what of the sounds? Cutscenes are fully voiced to varying degrees. The story is moved forwards in either the fully animated scenes as mentioned above or in speech bubbles between missions. The Blood Angels are the usual po-faced bunch, spouting their typical pseudo-religious lines in an incredibly dry manner. It’s not bad, its very OTT and takes itself seriously! This is one of these games where I’d love to hear the outtakes.

Weaponry sounds suitably meaty as does the clunk of the armour on the metal corridors you’ll occupy. Genestealer snarl and things go boom. Nothing to write home about but it fits the universe in which the game is set.

Gameplay and Replayability

I really enjoyed the moment to moment gameplay. As the Blood Angels, your main objective is to scuttle the hulk. Sometimes you’ll have to survive waves of enemies or clear the area, others you need to plant bombs or secure objectives. Just like the board game, marines have a limited number of points to carry out their actions. Moving, turning, shooting, whatever it is, you need to spend points, and once you’ve used them, that’s your turn done. You’re also dealt a hand of cards that give you advantages. These can boost dice rolls in various situations or be converted to provide you with additional points that can be spread among the team.

The levels are top-down views, but there is a first-person mode that you can use but this does limit your view of the battlefield, so I rarely used it. It also limits some of the movements you can make and as soon as you commit there is no going back. I don’t recommend it unless you want some eye candy.

Between missions, you’ll traverse the hulk in a series of maps with branching routes. Here you can collect resources to upgrade your team but as you progress, the situation escalates, and nodes can result in battles with the Genestealer horde. If you don’t fancy the fight, you can leave a marine in place, and he’ll deal with whatever is coming.

As I eluded to earlier, different marines have different skills. You have the Sergeant who always leads the team, assault troops, heavy weapons guys, a medic and the librarian who has psychic powers. If they die, they’re replaced with someone else, and if you fail in a skirmish you’ll lose resources, but you can keep moving forward. It makes you less concerned for individuals, but it also means a game over is unlikely unless your tactical mind isn’t quite sharp enough.

There’s also a Genestealer campaign, and in my opinion, this was more fun. We get a little history of other Marine factions who boarded this “ship”, and it’s quite interesting to learn more. Normally you’ll be expected to defeat a particular individual or wipe the team. Sometimes you also need to survive a marine assault. This boils down to keeping a certain number of Genestealers alive for a defined number of turns or again, wiping out the threat.

The Genestealers have an infinite supply of forces unless it’s a survival mission. Converting cards allows you to spawn “blips” which contain 1-3 Stealers and there are also dummy blips. The marines never know how many each holds until they get a line of sight and you need to be a bit more devious when playing as the Genestealers. You’ll be expected to split forces, flank the enemy and use the environment to your advantage.

Again, you have a variety of forces from the regular fodder to Stealers who explode, heavily armoured types, one that has a higher killing ability and finally the Broodlord who acts as a mobile spawn point but can also deal out a ton of damage.

Once both campaigns are finished, game time can be extended via multiplayer, skirmishes, downloadable maps as well as the level creator. It’s a feature-rich package, and people who love the universe will find more than enough to keep themselves occupied.

Conclusion

If you’re not interested in Warhammer, this is a tough sell. It’s tough playing as the marines, but I had a ton of fun playing through both campaigns. I couldn’t test the multiplayer as I couldn’t find any randoms to play against so that was disappointing. Graphically it could have been better, and it was a bit too serious at times, but again, I did enjoy what I played. It’s far from perfect, and the controls were a bit fiddly on a controller, but it’s worth a look.

Rapid Reviews UK Rating

3 and a half out of 5

You can purchase Space Hulk Tactics for Xbox One on the following link, Space Hulk: Tactics.

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