Space Hulk Dusts Itself Off And Tries An Expansion Or Two

By Alec Meer on November 22nd, 2013 at 8:00 pm.

I am faintly aware that a few people have been waiting for me to say something about Full Control’s Space Hulk, which I had been highly impressed by very brief encounters with but then unable to review the thing due to being on paternity leave. Rab, stepping into the breach (possibly the wrong choice of words for that context) was most distressed by what he found. But what of me? Did I love the finished game as much as I’d hoped, or had I sold my soul to the Chaos god of preview hype, and tricked you all?

I’ll reveal all below, along with sharing details of expansion pack stuff.

Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasically, I did feel a bit let down by it, but it didn’t hit me as hard as it did Rab, and I was able to derive some measure of enjoyment from the game even though it regularly annoyed me. The root of the problem was that what looked good in a 20 minute press demo, all that satisfying metallic, clanking walking and meaty Stealer-bashing animations, quickly lost its pallor when it simply repeated itself again and again across the course of the full game. I was expecting more variety from that stuff, but the repetition was grating and the initial atmosphere created by the ponderous movement gave way to PLEASE JUST GET ON WITH IT irritation. Also, the bugs. They sure didn’t help. But I certainly didn’t hate the experience, just felt deflated by it, and I’m genuinely sad that I’m not going to close out 2013 saying that this was one of my games of the year. I really thought it would be, but I was wrong.

:(

The Games Workshop adaptation has seen a fair few patches and updates since launch, which I’ve not had the chance to look at, so I can’t tell you whether they’re improved the state of affairs meaningfully. What’s also now happened is that two new campaigns have been released as DLC, for £3 each. Until now Genestealer skins were the only DLC available, which ain’t particularly exciting. Plans to release new Space Marine chapters for the game have yet to see fruition – perhaps as a result of the muted response to Space Hulk – so we’re still Blood Angeling away in the new DLC campaigns, but they’re based on original Space Hulk set-ups and promise a few tweaks to the formula.

For instance, Defilement of Honour (missus) introduces air ducts, which can be used by Genestealers to get the drop on Terminators, while Sword of Halcyon has bulkhead doors, which enable Terminators to seal off parts of the map.

Each campaign contains five missions. I’m not able to tell you if they’re any great improvement upon the core campaign, but I wouldn’t mind taking a look if I ever find a quiet moment.

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23 Comments »

  1. ceriphim says:

    Anyone else feel like these two new “campaigns” should be, you know… Free?

    I actually liked the game, but lost interest 3/4 of the way through and haven’t gone back. Paying an ADDITIONAL $10 for 10 more levels of almost the same doesn’t sound reasonable to me.

    • Philomelle says:

      They actually did release an additional free campaign in one of the patches. No word on why they made these paid other than the new mechanics cost money to develop.

      That said, I’m not sure why everyone expected this game to be an all-engrossing masterpiece for the ages. It’s a by-the-book adaptation of a board game that you play with an AI instead of another player. Sure, the source material is good, but board games are kind of meant to be party games played for 2-3 hours at a time and then shelved until the next group occasion. That purpose is out of tune with what people expected from this game (an engrossing strategy one can play day after day for weeks).

    • Nihilexistentialist says:

      Leave your entitlement at the door. There’s no reason that this should be free as there has already been free updates. If you don’t like the game then you weren’t going to bother with this DLC anyways. Making video games is not charity work.

      • Convolvulus says:

        Maybe you have a different opinion of Full Control’s missteps or feel they’ve already made up for them. That’s fine, but Leave your entitlement at the door. isn’t a solid response here (even ignoring that the word “entitlement” on its own refers to a legitimate claim on something). As you say, the company already gave away a short campaign as an apology for Space Hulk‘s launch, so your complaint is really just a matter of indefinable degrees. How much should a company spend after slighting customers? How much free stuff does it take to buy back consumer faith? What percentage of arguments using the word “entitlement” turn out to be opinionated blather?

        • stupid_mcgee says:

          “As you say, the company already gave away a short campaign as an apology for Space Hulk‘s launch”

          Nice revisionist history. And that’s not what Nihilexistentialist said at all. It’s not even what Philomelle said. What Philomelle said was that they already gave away a free campaign. You shoehorned in the assumption that it was because of a poor launch. It wasn’t.

          Fact is, Full Control had always planned, even since before they started to take pre-orders, to have the first DLC be free for those that pre-ordered. This was a “thank you” gesture to early adopters, not an acquiescence to any upset consumers.

          While I’m not going to sit here an say that the game isn’t without faults, the amount of pessimism towards this title is way off the charts. It may not be the most amazing game of all time, but it’s a solid effort and quite fun.

  2. Moraven says:

    Patch 1.2 in October made the game how it should have been at release. (there were a lot of bux fixes before that also). They even added 3 missions for free then.

    My first hour at release only had visual bugs (no worse than XCom) and sound bugs. Some ran into a mission breaking bug stopped you from continuing the campaign.

    I have not played through the entire game yet. 5 missions for 5 dollars is a hard sell. But the developers have definitely been putting a lot of effort into fixing up their game in a short time period. If the full price is to much for you, get it during the Steam holiday sale.

    • Shuck says:

      It seemed like even the gameplay problems Rab talked about would have been easily fixable with patches (assuming the developers agreed with his assessment of what was wrong, and it seemed like a pretty fair assessment) – have they done so, or is it all bug fixes?

      • WrenBoy says:

        Yeah almost all of Rab’s issues seemed to be a lack of polish. Assuming efforts have been made to correct this I would love a second opinion piece by RPS.

  3. buzzmong says:

    Hold on, air ducts and bulkhead doors are dlc content?! That’s suprising. Not having bought or played it, I would have thought those would be normal features to the base game.

    • SillyWizard says:

      Yeah, this was kind of weird to read. Are these “new features” only included in their DLC maps, or are they retro-applied to the campaign, too?

      • captainparty says:

        Air Ducts and Bulk Heads weren’t in the original Space Hulk board game that the game pretty faithfully recreates, they were introduced in later campaigns in Games Workshops magazine supplement, White Dwarf, which the DLC recreates, the base game is Space Hulk as it was when you bought the boxed set, in a way, the White Dwarf campaigns were DLC to that

  4. Chris Cunningham says:

    Well, it’s nice to see a mea culpa of sorts considering that the breathless hyping RPS gave said game on said 20-minute snippets likely shifted a considerable % of its sales (not unlike print hackism, really).

    Still amazed at the amount of blatant astroturfing Full Control cobbled together in reaction to Rab’s piece.

    • qrter says:

      Really, they went for astroturfing after Rab’s review? In what way? I haven’t been following this.

    • WrenBoy says:

      I didn’t notice this at all. Would love to see some examples.

      • stupid_mcgee says:

        AFAIK, there are none. Generally speaking, I enjoy Rab’s pieces. That piece, however, was (IMO) a fantastic example of blowing one thing way out of proportion and then letting that taint everything else. The bugs and glitches suck. Sure. But the whole “I can’t end my turn immediately” complaint wore thin the 4th time he trotted it out. It was almost as paper-thin of a complaint as Total Biscuit freaking out because the game didn’t stop him from ending his turn before he had spent all his points. And yet people, including TB, constantly complain about all of the hand-holding in modern games.

        I’m not saying that Space hulk was perfect, but I feel the amount of hate it’s gotten is rather unwarranted. To heap on this asinine idle speculation that FC is in dire straits and that other features won’t be released as promised isn’t just completely shit-show idle-speculation journalism, but it’s shoddy tabloid-fare that spreads malicious intent without merit. Unless you have something substantive to back up these allegations, this is nothing more than rumor-mongering. If I wanted to read idle shit like that, I’d go back to that miserable rag, Kotaku.

      • Bull0 says:

        Astroturfing’s sort of hard to prove by definition. From my layman’s perspective though, for example, the fact that nearly all of SH’s 9 and 10 reviews on metacritic are from accounts with no other reviews or ratings submitted is a little suspect.

  5. Sqweebo says:

    @Alec what about taking the time to actually play the game in its current incarnation before writing the article? You start by saying sorry, I didn’t get a chance to play it besides a tech demo and now that’s it’s been patched and has new content, I won’t be playing it again but here’s the article anyway.

    • Lengle says:

      What Sqweebo said ^

      I know the chaps at RPS must be very busy. But it does seem a bit silly to write an article like this. I suppose the flip side is that it gives the game some exposure. For example, I’m now possibly going to reinstall it and have another play based on the general comments that it has come along a fair bit. So…actually….Yay article I guess.

  6. Pneuma_antilogias says:

    I felt that Space Hulk was quite playable on launch and has improved significantly with the various patches released since then. If memory serves, FC have even added an option that speeds up animations (I was never bothered by those, so never used that option). Not that “animations are slow” seems to be a game-breaker anyway, in a turn-based game, but it shows that FC listened.

    The game certainly did not deserve the poor reviews it received, it is a good adaptation of the board game and was quite fun; certainly not the huge failure or whatever some rage pieces passing for professional reviews were arguing. The source material may not be ideally suited for a computer game, but that’s another story altogether.

    My only complaint was the price on launch (and then again I feel the various humble or royal bundles have created an imbalance in this respect) but other than that it was an interesting experience. What I would love to see would be a campaign with limited resources, where you’d have to clear a space hulk with a certain number of marines, so every loss would count in the long term and not only in any given mission. Then, in my book, it would be a classic.

    For those sitting on the fence, I’d say wait for the holiday sales and if you fancy the reduced price, give it a go

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      I agree that the price might be a bit high, but I wonder if the licensing is part of that equation.

      I generally like Rab’s articles, but that one reeked to me of… let me extrapolate. You know those reviewers that are more entertainers than reviewers? The Angry Film Dude! The Pissed Off Musician! The Irrationally Upset Game Reviewer! You know, those kinds of shtick? They find one minor thing and then harp on it like it’s the end of the world? That’s what Rab’s article reminded me of. Not to say his complaints didn’t have merit, I just don’t think they were as big of a deal as he made them out to be.

      Hardly perfect, but I’ve found the game to be highly enjoyable.

      • WrenBoy says:

        What is the difficulty like and how does the AI stack up to a human opponent? The previews made it seem a little unchallenging.

        • Pneuma_antilogias says:

          Some missions can be quite hard, due to setup limitations (for example when you have to bring stunned terminators back to action, in Alarm Call).

          Generally speaking, when the deployment zones for the genestealers are fewer of closely packed, the AI avoids some questionable choices. Overall, I had several failures due to some good use of the genestealer tokens by the AI.

          Also, it’s a game with dice (albeit computer controlled) so luck is a significant factor. Not a dominant one, but it can’t be discounted. I’ve had playthroughs where a mission was quite doable because I had reasonably good rolls, and other instances where the weapons kept jamming and consequently lost marines or even the entire mission.

          And that’s without counting mistakes I made during the initial demployment or placements within the mission.

          As I said, it may not be the Emperor’s gift to mankind, but it does not deserve the poor reviews it received. And some of those reviews (or at least the marks assigned to them) defy any reason. The Guardian gives the game 3/5 (which metacritic arbitrarily translates to 60%) and the “criticism” is that it needed “more polish”.

          And there are many examples like that. Gameplanet (5.5/10) even complains about “the lack of maps”. Yes, FC are to blame for doing a “too faithful” conversion. For example (from that review, verbatim): “Probably bigger than these problems are the game’s slavish adherence to the source material”.

          Yay, they stayed faithful to the source material, so let’s bash them.

          As I said, look out for a decent discount and give it a go to see for yourselves, “professional” reviews can be a joke (anyone old enough here to recall the PCGamer review of Braveheart?)

          • WrenBoy says:

            Yeah looking at the criticism it seems like a lot of little niggly things rather than a bad underlying game. I’ll watch out for it in a sale.