The Warhammer 40,000 universe has been a constant throughout my life, tracing back to the Games Workshop boardgame that bear the same name. I have spent many hours playing with friends and having fun over the years. I learned to love painting the figures, the lore behind all the characters and the moment to moment gameplay of each character. I was excited to try this latest effort in the video game universe after keeping up to date will all previous entries but sadly it doesn’t translate this time around.
Space Hulk: Tactics is a turn-based strategy game so as you would expect it’s not too different from a more granular version of the brilliant X-COM, just with hulking great terminator characters as the main focus. The tutorial that begins the game is needlessly vague, what I would expect to be key information is skipped over and certain other things, that aren’t really needed, are over-explained. It even gets to the point that they become less and less interesting as progression is made. During my playthrough, I found a couple of glitches early in the game which meant I couldn’t finish a particular mission. The only option available was to start the whole game over but luckily for me, I wasn’t very far through at this point as it occurred on the second training mission.
The game is played from an isometric point of view with the option to follow the story of either the Blood Angel Terminators or the Genestealers. It introduces a card mechanic as an attempt to enhance gameplay while ensuring that no two games are ever quite the same. The two factions offer a different style of gameplay, the terminators wear heavy armour and big helmets which means they are slow and have a very narrow viewing angle. Their range drops off very quickly because of this and you can only focus on what is directly in the squares in front of you. The Genestealers on the other hand, as you’d expect, are very fast and have a wider field of view but lack the stopping power of their counterparts. What is cool is that when playing as the terminators you can switch to a first-person view although this is ultimately pointless.
At the moment I am playing two X-COM like games, this and Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. Mario + Rabbids is very frantic, fast-paced and fun affair. The game has been well designed, it allows you to spot a lot of what is going on in the open battlefield and is easy to increase your stats by using the various power-ups on each level. With Tactics you don’t really get the same feeling sadly, most of the game is played in the very narrow corridors of an abandoned Space Hulk starship. I know this is part of the original setting but the boardgame always seemed way more fun than this effort.
Warhammer video games have had a very spotty history, the Dawn of War series are fantastic examples of doing the universe justice as was Space Marine. Then with a flip of the coin, you get games which quickly outstayed their welcome. The subpar PlayStation 3 / PC efforts Kill Team and Battle March spring to mind. With each of these games, I ended up playing less and less as the interest level soon dwindled because of how buggy they were. I know these were made by different devs but it is hard to convey something in a short game that over the years I have spent hundreds of hours playing and is my fear for Tactics.
I still have the multiplayer to play as I couldn’t get a game to connect when I tried, even after a number of attempts. It was as if no one was playing it which might be a bad sign or my timing. This is something that I will be going back to at a later date after the game has received some patching to see if anything gets any better. Although this all seems like doom and gloom Space Hulk: Tactics does have its positives, the aesthetic is all that you expect from a Warhammer game and the character design is spot on. When you get on the Space Hulk for the first time it is exactly how I imagined and wanted it to be, so I do hold out some hope for the future.
Overall I would give Space Hulk: Tactics a middling score. I believe that with patching, taking on board the feedback of the players that this could be a good game. Today it is merely a run of the mill turn-based strategy game but it shows potential and importantly I love the world it is set in. At the moment though there are just too many bugs.
Beard Score: 5/10
Genre: Strategy, Turn-based
Players: 1 (online multiplayer)
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Format: Steam, PlayStation 4, Xbox One