Warhammer: Space Hulk Hands-On
We take a look at this casual take on Warhammer 40k, and bring you our hands-on impressions.
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The Warhammer universe is one filled with grisly interplanetary warfare, inconceivably advanced weaponry, and brutal tactics. Although it remains a thriving board game, by Games Workshop, Warhammer 40,000 has also spawned a series of video games, of which Space Hulk is the first mobile example. Space Hulk focuses on the conflict between the human Space Marines, and the Tyranids, a soulless alien race that insatiably hungers for fresh genetic code. The game has two modes: an action mode, which plays like a first-person shooter, and a tactical mode, which is a turn-based game that feels a lot more like a traditional Warhammer experience.
Space Hulk features only two main unit types: the Space Marine infantry and the Tyranid equivalent, the Genestealers. This means that the Space Marines, equipped with machine guns, have a tremendous advantage at long range, while the steel-clawed Genestealers dominate in close-quarters confrontations. In tactical mode, both teams control blips, which are pieces containing dormant units. The strategic placement of these blips is vital to your success. Once selected, units are controlled via a scrollable command sidebar.
As a Space Marine, one of your units may carry a heavy flamer, which is a special weapon that's often tied to completing mission objectives. If you're controlling the Genestealers, it's a good idea to take this guy out.
In the build we saw of the game, action mode seemed as though it wasn't quite ready for prime time. Slowdown was rampant and really crippled the gameplay, which may have otherwise resembled that of a serviceable first-person shooter. In all honesty, the action mode seems like an attempt to widen the appeal of the Warhammer series, which typically caters to a select, dedicated demographic. Accessibility is a noble goal. However, unless the quality of the action game improves considerably, the six tactical-mode missions (playable by one or two people) will be Space Hulk's main draw.
Warhammer: Space Hulk is a nice simplification of the Warhammer rule set. It's great to see this beloved series expand to mobile, where it has the potential to reclaim some old fans and garner new ones. We'd like to see sound implemented in the final build (the game was silent on our N-Gage QD) and some improvement made to the action mode. Apart from that, this game is shaping up to be a good casual take on Warhammer, even if it doesn't dig too deeply within that complex continuum.