Monday, August 19, 2013

Space Hulk Gameplay Review

I'm playing Space Hulk, a urn-based strategy game by Full Control.

The game features a number of missions based on the board game that must be unlocked in order, a decidedly unfair requirement in an extremely challenging game. Random dice rolls can undo good tactics, resulting in a difficult game that borders on cruel. Asynchronous cross-platform online multiplayer is available, but only using levels you have unlocked in the single-player campaign (unless you pick random). Space Hulk lacks a skirmish mode where you can play as the aliens against the AI, and a promised level editor is nowhere to be found. The gameplay is lifted directly from the board game: units are given action points to move, turn, attack, interact with doors, use ladders, automatically attack enemy units, or enhance melee defense. Alien units will appear as blips, which may contain one to three units, until scouted. “Strategy” involves placing soldiers on overwatch guarding alien spawn points, then lucking out with dice rolls: despite the protagonists’ thick armor, one melee hit from an alien will result in untimely death. Space Hulk suffers from several other issues, the most egregious of which involves unit movement animations that can’t be skipped, resulting in glacially slow turns. The game also features poor production values (including the inability to clearly differentiate between alive and dead aliens), a slow-scrolling strategic map that takes up the entire screen (right-click dragging is faster), the inability to display information about more than one squad at a time, keyboard shortcuts that cannot be modified, and a higher-than-expected price tag. In the end, Space Hulk is a mediocre, arduous adaptation of the board game.