For the Imperium!
Games Workshop’s most recent offering airdrops you into the heart of Warhammer 40K universe. This digital adaptation of the much-loved tabletop strategy game puts you in control of the feared Space Marines from the Blood Angels chapter sporting formidable Terminator armor. A mysterious mass of wrecked starships threatens to collide with a Forge World; if that wasn’t perilous enough, within the wrecked starships is a swarm of alien Tyranids known as Genestealers. Your mission is to fight your way through the narrows corridors of the steel junkyards in order to destroy the mangled mass and prevent it from colliding with the Forge World.
This turn-based adventure looks spectacular, the armor sported by your Terminators is recreated beautifully as are their Genestealer counterparts and bring the tabletop characters to life. The decaying mass of steel in which your team fights through is equally impressive; you really are immersed in the 40k universe and the tight passageways feel restrictive and claustrophobic. Being a turn-based strategy game, as you would expect you can see the whole level from a top-down view which enables you to have an overview of your objective, where your marines are and also the enemy. There is a unique addition to this game in that you can enjoy the first-person view and take each turn from within the Terminator suit; unfortunately, this view is only useful for enjoying the detailed view and character models. It is fun and gives you a real sense of being onboard the wrecked starships and it can rewarding seeing a Genestealer mowed down by a heavy bolter, unfortunately, it is very restrictive in terms of overall strategy and game planning and I very rarely used it.
Each marine starts each turn with 4 action points, these are used for movement, interacting with consoles or doors, blasting the bugs or entering overwatch; ALWAYS USE OVERWATCH! The Space Marines are heavily armed and excel in engaging targets at distance; even though they sport impressively oversized melee weapons they never really compete in close quarters combat against the 6 legged, Razer clawed Tyranid Hive. This game introduces playing cards, 3 can be drawn each turn and they have unique attributes which can be used to improve the likelihood of a favorable dice roll or converted into additional action points.
The Blood Angels campaign is interesting and challenging, constantly having to plan ahead in order to create choke points in order to keep the Genestealers away from you, though at times the narrow corridors which force you into a single file can leave a sense of plodding along at a snail’s pace.
The campaign is not long and there isn’t much depth to it in terms of story but the voice acting is very well done and there are some very pleasing animations that will make fans of the series happy. All through the levels do look very pretty, they are all very similar in appearance and don’t offer much in terms in replayability; I think this is evident in the fact that the game has a custom level designer in which you can put together your own labyrinths to squash bugs in or be squashed depending on which side you choose.
This game also offers a second campaign, for the first time in digital form, you are able to take control of the terrible Tyranids. These levels offer a very different feel, lacking in cumbersome armor and having 6 legs to scuttle around on means the Genestealers have to use speed and cunning in order to get close. You deploy your alien menace in what appears as a blip to your terminator adversaries, these are reminiscent of the motion tracker famously used by Ellen Ripley. Each blip can be used to conceal up to 3 Genestealers in order to try and draw out the Space Marines into vulnerable areas.
When you are through the relatively short campaigns, this game offers a pretty impressive multiplayer experience. Here you can choose from several different chapters of Space Marines including the infamous Ultramarines and the wild Space Wolves. You can customise almost every aspect of your mini army, paint colors, helmet types and a vast array of ornaments to adorn your mechanical soldier with, all without the fuss and mess of getting paints and glue all over your dining room table.
Space Hulk: Tactics has very clearly been optimised for console and it runs flawlessly on my Xbox one X, there are no issues with frame rate issues, no matter how many character models are present even when in the first person view.