REVIEW: Face the Genestealers in ‘Space Hulk: Tactics (PS4)

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Space Hulk: Tactics

In the future, there is only war and war remains a blessing as well as a curse. It brings about the fiercest of emotions and the noblest of heroes, but also the darkest enemies imaginable, seething with hatred and evil. In the chaos of the space anomaly, known as The Warp, a terrifying vessel emerges, known as the Space Hulk. This splicing of massive derelict ships hides a sinister alien species, known as the Genestealers.

The Genestealers, part of the alien hive mind known as the Tyranids. With the Space Hulk on a collision course with an imperial planet, the elite group of Terminator Marines, known as The Blood Angels, are dispatched to confront this threat and defeat the Genestealers. This is Space Hulk: Tactics, the newest take in the classic universe of Warhammer 40K by Games Workshop. The game is developed by Cyanide Games and published by Focus Home Interactive.

There have been many interpretations of Space Hulk before Space Hulk Tactics. But as someone who played this at E3 and finally had the chance to play the final game, this is not only the best version of Space Hulk in a video game but also a fantastic turn-based strategy game that is great for tactical veterans and newcomers alike.

The original Space Hulk was developed and released in 1984 as a board game in the early days of the Warhammer 40K universe. The board game introduced an engaging but dangerously docile gameplay experience, in which players needed to navigate narrow corridors to find and eliminate members of the opposing team. One side would be the Blood Angels, Terminator space marines armed to the teeth with the latest in long and close-range weaponry. The other player would star as The Tyranids, a race of parasitic aliens with incredible agility and claws capable of slicing through armor.

The board game was incredibly successful and over the decades has been translated into several video games. September of 1995 brought forth Space Hulk: Vengeance of The Blood Angels, a first-person shooter for the PC, 3DO, and PlayStation One. In the past few years, there have been other iterations such as Space Hulk: Ascension for the PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. With Space Hulk: Tactics players are once again thrust into the same dangerous and terrifying battlefield, but with many new features that make the gameplay faster, immersive, and more intuitive.

Space Hulk: Tactics introduces players to incredibly quick-turn based combat. Players will choose their squad of Blood Angels, which consists of various units. Each class varies in their abilities and weaponry. Sergeants carry shields and a siege hammer, making them great for close quarters encounters. While Assault Terminators can use lethal claws, power fists, or bolters. The Heavy Terminator can wield flamethrowers or assault cannons. Apothecaries typically use bolters, drills, and support abilities.  Finally, the Librarian is capable of using powerful psychic spells to eliminate enemies at a distance.

Across a lengthy campaign, players will employ and dispatch these marines across various rooms in the Space Hulk. Objectives will vary, from defense to retrieval, to elimination, and extermination. The ultimate objective is to combat and eliminate Genestealers in every situation. With the battlefield narrow and isolated, the Blood Angels do not have a means to evade any attacks, only the ability to attack and defend. While the Blood Angels have superior firepower, the Genestealers have the advantage of the entire ship, using the ventilation ducts and service bays to appear anywhere on the battlefield.

When on the field, players can select from a variety of tactical commands. Each command uses action points and when the points are depleted, no further action can be taken. An efficient strategy is to use overwatch and defensive strategies, especially when enemies do not appear. Any approaching enemy will appear as a blip on the radar. When a line of sight is established, the enemy will appear and attacks can be made. As mentioned before, the Genestealers can appear anywhere and will rip apart armor when close enough. Additionally, Genestealers can alter their DNA into various types, such as BroodLords and Miasma Genestealers. Their various attacks and patterns will require players to adapt and overcome. The campaign for single-player will have the players play as the Genestealers as well.

Space Hulk: Tactics can be difficult and the battle can quickly turn against players. To combat this, Space Hulk: Tactics contains a special tactical card system. These cards yield special perks and can either be recycled or employed. If some cards are useless, players may recycle them for Action Points. When the rules are established, Space Hulk: Tactics becomes one of the best turn-based games you can play today and a fantastic tactical experience regardless if you have seen the fire of war or are a new recruit. The levels play incredibly smoothly, with fluidity between the player and the action. The matches can go at the speed of the players, but with the accessible controls and mechanics, players will be making moves and attacks with swiftness and impunity. It is immensely satisfying to put down a Genestealer with the might of a power fist or the savage shredding of a heavy cannon.

Supporting the experience is a fantastic presentation. The atmospheric music works very well and the visuals are wisely detailed. The interior of the Space Hulk is industrial, dark, and grimey which is a perfect haven for the enemy. Players can switch to a first-person perspective with any Terminator to gain a sensation of depth and weight. They will see steam billowing out of pipes and fans hauntingly spinning away in their shafts.  It’s a refreshing way to play the classic board game and fully experience what the original game brought for players.

Finally, players can play against each other in online multiplayer combat, as well as user customization. Players can choose from several different chapters of Terminators, such as the Ultra Marines and the Dark Angels. In multiplayer, the other team may star as the Genestealers and employ their own breed of units to the battlefield. For user customization, players may edit missions and ship structures to include Genestealer hives and Orcs Cruisers.

The world of Warhammer 40K is a rich one, and I am greatly pleased to see it continue in video games now with Space Hulk: Tactics. In addition to an engaging science-fiction world, Space Hulk: Tactics is also an incredible tactical experience that is great for experienced players while welcoming for those new to both Warhammer 40K and tactical combat. In comparison to other interpretations of Space Hulk, this is the most faithful adaptation of the game I have played. From its sharp presentation to its immersive and engaging gameplay, Space Hulk: Tactics is an incredible game. Suit up, grab your armor, and face the Genestealers!


Space Hulk: Tactics
  • 10/10
    Rating - 10/10
10/10

TL; DR

Space Hulk: Tactics is an incredible game. Suit up, grab your armor, and face the Genestealers!