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Space Hulk Review

“In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war…” As Brother Bloodfist McGunPouch, Lt. Slab Beefsteak, and a band of similarly grimdark soldiers whose names may or may not be made up, you’ll investigate an abandoned spaceship and hope to god that those horrendous Genestealers aren’t on board. (Spoiler alert: they are.)

This virtual adaptation of the twenty-five year old board game brings with it action of the asymmetrical, turn-based strategy variety. Make no mistake: this game is as unforgiving as it is grimdark. Your slowpoke soldiers are walking battletanks, armed with a myriad of weapons for making sure their foes go down and stay down. The Genestealers, the Xenomorph-esque monsters skittering around the decrepit Space Hulk, use their superior speed and number to try to overwhelm you from every angle. Maps are small and claustrophobic, forcing you to think carefully about unit placement and possible ambush sites lest you end up getting overwhelmed.

During your turn, each soldier gets a limited number of action points to fuel their moves. Action points replenish each new turn, while Command Points, the larger pool any soldier can use to take extra actions, replenish slowly over time. Don’t expect any one soldier to be the MVP of every match; your guys can only do so much at once. Moving around in such heavy armor takes a lot out of them, as does attacking and turning around. The Overwatch ability helps mitigate some of the sting by allowing your unit to stand alert for any foes. Should one appear, it’ll get gunned down instantly (as long as the attack connects).

Accuracy and visibility are huge factors in Space Hulk. Red blips indicate areas that Genestealers might be hiding, but you’re not going to know exactly where they are until they slink up close for the attack – which tend to be all-or-nothing affairs. If you hit, they’re dead. If they hit, you’re probably dead. It’s interesting, and can make for high tension when you know that your next hit could always be your last, but the frustration of having soldiers repeatedly miss what should be fatal attacks can eventually get to even the most stalwart of players.

Even for a turn-based game, Space Hulk’s kinda slow. Unless you crank up the animation speed to comically fast, everyone moves and turns at a snail’s pace, and you’re going to spend a lot of your time clunking around in the dark looking for enemies rather than actually playing against many of them. The lack of music and relative lack of ambient sound effects goes a long way towards enhancing this sluggishness. On the flip side, there are some neat little touches to the game, like the way, during each soldier’s turn, you’re given a small first-person viewpoint of what’s going on. Most of the time it’s just cool to see thing from their perspective, but it can occasionally help reveal the location of unknown enemies.

Once bought, Space Hulk doesn’t hit you over the head for in-app purchases. There are additional skins and campaigns available, if you’re interested, but this title gives you a complete package at purchase – a complete package weighing in at a whopping 3 gigs. If you’re thinking of buying Space Hulk, make sure you’ve got some Incredible Hulk-sized room on your hard drive.

Despite some issues here and there, Space Hulk still manages to translate the addictive action of the board game from which its derived into a worthy iOS title. Like a sloth ninja assassin, Space Hulk is slow, methodical, and brutal, but offers plenty of rewards for those with patience.

 

App Store Link: Space Hulk for iPhone and iPad | By Games Workshop/Full Control Studios| Price: $9.99 | Version: 1.3.1 | 3.0 GB | Rating 9+

7.5 out of 10 arcade sushi rating

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