• Space Hulk: Tactics review by Rick Moscatello

    It delivers what it should, and not much more.

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    Space Hulk was a great boardgame, pitting sluggish but heavily armed and armored Space Marines against hordes of Genestealers (think the Xenomorph, but the serial numbers filed off with a chainsaw) in huge abandoned space ships (“hulks”). This game style had been attempted many times before, but Space Hulk did it best, with cool looking components and a fast-and-dirty rules set that got the job done.

    Space Hulk: Tactics is a faithful adaptation of the old board game, but with cool computer graphics and the computer handling the rules so you can get down to the nitty gritty of blasting xenos (slang for Genestealers), or slaughtering Space Marines if that’s your thing.

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    It costs points to change facing on lumbering Marines, so even the start is critical.

    The board gamey-ness of Space Hulk: Tactics comes right from the start, as you have you place your pieces (including facing) before you can start moving them around the board. As the Space Marines, you have to balance spending of action points—use them all to quickly get to an objective is usually not the way to go, since the xenos can run your troops down quite easily. Typically, you’ll move part way, then put your troops on “overwatch,” where they’ll automatically fire on any aliens they see.

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    A xeno receiving proper care.

    Overwatch isn’t a perfect solution, however, as weapons can jam, or your marines can miss. Generally, the xenos are vastly superior in melee combat, though, as per the board game roots, it always comes down to a die roll. It’s quite possible for a xeno to pop up, get missed by an overwatch shot, then have a weapon jam let the xeno move adjacent, only to have the xeno then fail its melee attack, to be slaughtered by the marine holding nothing more than a jammed pistol (or Storm Bolter, as the case may be).

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    How to dress you up today?

    In between missions you can play “dress up” with the marines, giving them chain cannons (highly recommended), chainsaws, and other delightful weaponry. Again, it’s all as per the board game.

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    First person is cool, but you can't play that way.

    The graphics overall are good-to-great. There’s even an option to play from first person view, but I don’t recommend it. You need to play optimally, every action point counts, and so the isometric “from above” view really is the only way to play if you’re seriously trying to win.

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    The campaign map, such as it is.

    The game strays a bit from the board game by including campaigns, but they’re pretty simple slugfests on railroad tracks, with nothing remarkable to them. I’m mostly reviewing from the Space Marines point of view, because, bottom line, that’s the way the game should be played, but there’s a full two-player component here, allowing both sides to be played by a human.

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    A proper squad is 5 marines, too many for the cramped quarters of a hulk...a casualty will fix that soon enough.

    Another stray from the board game is a card mechanic; you can play cards to give your marines a boost, or (more commonly) get more desperately needed action points. There’s also character development, but it’s limited fare: your marines already start out so well armed, armored, and skilled, that about all you can give them is a slightly better chance of survival when getting mauled by a xeno.

    You can play either side solo, of course, but the weak AI, acceptable when used for the relatively mindless Genestealers, is a bit grating when the Space Marines bumble around incompetently.

    Another issue is the interface is a bit clumsy, and often I found myself struggling to figure out how to activate an ability clearly labeled on screen. It takes more getting used to than it should, but I figured it all out eventually.

    Normally I despise the “let’s make it real time” version of games, but I have to admit, Space Hulk: Deathwing (the real time version of Space Hulk: Tactics) just does a better job of capturing the feel and terror of the original game. That said, if you’re looking to play the beloved board game, Space Hulk: Tactics absolutely delivers on its promise of putting that game on the computer.

    Overall Rating: 78
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Space Hulk: Tactics review by Rick Moscatello started by Doom View original post