Focus / Streum On Studio (studio)
22 May 2018 (released)
22 May 2018
I was kind of a Warhammer nut many years ago. True I can’t afford to buy them nowadays but at least I can look at the pretty models through the shop window. I’m also a sucker for any video games related to the Warhammer universe and finally my dream has come true! I can play as a god dang Space Marine in First Person! I can finally vent my rage as the ultimate killing machine who mass murders hordes of creatures in space.
Yay! But to be honest, the Warhammer games have had a hit or miss track record. Even Dawn of War 3 suffered from some crippling problems. But oh my god, this should be good right? Vermintide was pretty awesome, so you can’t get it wrong just with Space Marines right?
This is not the first time we’ve seen Space Marines within a video game format, but unlike the previous games this is first person! Plus it’s got plenty of destruction, mayhem and all the best bits of being a rage-oholic Space Marine. This tale takes players into the boots of a Librarian (not the book keeping kind) from one of the most secret and feared forces within the Adeptus Astartes: the Deathwing of the Dark Angels Chapter. These happy chaps are sent on the most demanding missions that often require genocide on a small scale, all in the name of Lion. Praise the Lion! The discovery of the might Space Hulk Olethros, grabs the attention of the Imperium and so the Deathwing are sent in to investigate, recover vital data and destroy any hostiles in the ship.
You and three buddies can don the legendary armour of the Space Marine attire and embark on a dangerous mission to rid as many Genestealers as possible. Each player will take on a certain class whether it is the Medic, Assault, Liberian or a tactical specialist, each playing vital roles within each mission. There’s enough depth here as a co-op shooter to keep players invested in working together to survive. I would recommend highly playing with at least another person as the teammate AI can’t be a little dim-witted at the worst moment. Often standing directly in enemy fire and commanding them can be fiddly due to the command layout.
Core Gameplay is rather simple following in the footsteps of Left 4 Dead and Vermintide, where players will traverse large areas, completing various objectives and tackling hordes of ungodly enemies with immense firepower. As you might expect being a Terminator class Space Marine, you’ll be well equipped in dealing some serious damage to the legions of Genestealers and all. You can unlock new weapons and perks as you progress throughout the campaign, making you much more deadly to the masses of Genestealers. There’s good variation in weapons and powers (most of which are pretty awesome) that players can can switch around at the start of each mission.
However you’ll also experience the clunky movement and cumbersome speed restrictions too. I guess this is fine, as you might expect an 8ft, 30st super human wearing half a ton of armour wouldn’t be the most nimble in moving around. Yet mission areas are often massive, with plenty of walking and back tracking to fill up mission time. Then you side stuff like exploring for hidden rewards, which is again a little tedious due to the movement.
But who cares when you gunning down hordes of enemies right? While there is a great variation of enemies in Space Hulk: Deathwing, there’s nothing truly impressive when it comes to enemy design. The majority of enemy classes just act as cannon fodder and run aimlessly to you and your line of fire. I’d say the pacing is the big problem here as mowing down hordes of enemies in tight confines and small spaces is pretty intense and just a massive rush that keeps you glued to the screen. Other games like Left 4 Dead and Vermintide have better pacing and manage their waves more consistently, saving big battles where they’ll be most entertaining and keeping things quiet at the right time.
Space Hulk: Deathwing does this for the first mission or so, then keeps opening the floodgates for more relentless mass murder until it becomes a little too much to bare. Yet playing with friends makes this more manageable and more fun compared to doing it solo. I will admit that there’s very little to break up the repeating objectives of “go there” and “destroy Nest”, which happens a little too often. It doesn’t help that the story is nothing more than a glorified bug hunt, with no interesting characters or even a twist to break up the generic plot.
Even Fire Warrior had a major twist in the story when Chaos came into the mix and turn everything upside down. Here, there’s nothing gripping about the story and thus, very little can be invested in. What I will say about Space Hulk: Deathwing is what I say with every other Warhammer game, visually it’s freaking awesome! Everything about the art style, design and how well the artists have captured the Imperium aesthetic is amazingly replicated. Even the confines of the claustrophobic Space Hulk can be extremely unnerving, with great lighting, decent sound design and just the right atmosphere to give you the creeps, even as the universes most prolific killing machine.
Now this is the “Enhanced Edition” of Space Hulk which promises to fix various bugs and problems brought up on the games original Steam release. Now I played this on both a standard PS4 and a PS4 Pro to see if certain fixes would be present on both forms of the same console. These fixes are to help resolve frame rate issues, long loading screens and other bugs that interfere with the match making. While the frame rate is much more consistent even on a standard PS4, the loading screens can still be agonising to wait through. Playing on a PS4 Pro showed improvements but if you're playing on a standard PS4, then expect prolonged loading screens were before a mission starts.
Space Hulk: Deathwing has all the right elements and indeed it does some things extremely well. The visuals and sound design are great, with the atmosphere being perfect for this type of game. While the action and gunplay are solid if not for a couple of minor issues. My big problems where the technical issues which even a PS4 Pro struggles with at times and the repetitive nature of the story and mission structure, that makes Space Hulk a little tedious at times.
While not perfect, Space Hulk can be a lot of fun with other people.
++ Intense co-op action gameplay
+ Looks and sounds great
+ Decent co-op gameplay
-- Still has long loading and minor technical issues
- Repetitive gameplay
- Lacks depth in story
A PS4 review copy of Space Hulk: Deathwing Enhanced Edition was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review