Who here is a Warhammer 40K fan? If you raised your hand I commend you, and I’m going to guess that you are in the process of purchasing or already own Space Hulk: Deathwing Enhanced Edition.Followers of the series find the charm and excitement in the series even when there are one or two issues at play. You Warhammer fans are a passionate and hardcore bunch and I totally understand and appreciate that. I too have fandoms that have me wearing blinders to some of its overt issues.
Space Hulk: Deathwing, was originally given the board game treatment before it was turned into the first-person shooter that we have before us now. Fans of Warhammer 40K made it a cult darling despite its many flaws.
Those flaws are kind of polished out with the latest “Enhanced Edition.” This remaster includes more customization, a new Chaplain class and new weapons in both single player and multiplayer modes which do improve on the base title quite a bit.
You take control of a Dark Angel Librarians he and his team infiltrate a Space Hulk to answer a distress call. It’s your job (and pleasure) to clear out the giant ship by blasting all the of the hostile Genestealers into bloody pulp while exploring the lore of each ship. The mechanics play out like Left 4 Dead, with hordes of endless enemies pouring onto your squad’s position.
These Space Hulk’s are very reminiscent to that of Event Horizon. These massive Space Hulks drift between dimensions resulting in these ships being half regular old sci-fi spacecraft environments and half atmospheric Gothic settings. The set-up is pretty cool, as a big Event Horizon fan I’m into the trans-dimensional horror angle, and how that is a jumping point for an interesting melding of horror and science fiction.
The main thing that has changed here is the skill tree and customization and both are rewarding in their own arenas and assists in combat against what seems like endless enemies, while the character customization gives your Terminator a cool armor paint jobs. Fans of the series are sure to be into the new improvements as well as the variety of Easter eggs from the Warhammer 40k lexicon.
Unfortunately, all this is built around the fact that the combat gameplay aspect is very clunky. The bulky suit that your Terminator wears, while cool looking, is entirely too cumbersome to move around in at a decent speed. Traveling down long hallway can become a daunting task due to slow galumphing issue. A bit of speeding up is definitely in order and would have helped the combat experience out immensely.
New weapons look fantastic but unfortunately aiming is a problematic especially while firing. Huge blinding muzzle flashes make it hard to see exactly what you are shooting at. This becomes a huge problem, early on and only gets worse with the increase number of enemies in later levels. It didn’t help that I experienced multiple frame drops within the first few hours of play that added to the already bulky game play.
You lead a squad of two other Deathwing marines, who you are able to give orders to in combat, but this feels like an aspect that was tacked on late in the game. The board game was very reliant on tactical squad combat, but nothing feels tactical here. It simply boils down to bad AI and sloppy command nuts and bolts execution.
When played in co-op with actual friends as opposed to the abysmal AI, the gameplay feels a little richer considering pushing and covering can actually be achieved. But, even then, frame rate issues and cumbersome movement gets in the way of that enjoyment.
It’s a shame that the negatives are such an integral part of the experience, because outside of those things Space Hulk: Deathwing, builds a fantastic world out of the Warhammer 40K mythos. The ships environments are painstakingly created with attention to detail and the action seems like it would be great if not for combat being such a chore.
Warhammer fans are hardcore. There is definitely a rewarding experience of lore and new features for them to sink their teeth into, but casual fans or someone new to the series may have trouble achieving the same experience. Slow combat simply didn’t work for me, and not being able to see what you are shooting at while shooting is a blaring issue. It’s disheartening because the world here seems like a very cool place to spend hours gaming with friends, but the way things are I’ll take my chance with the Space Hulk board game in place of this anytime.
Space Hulk: Deathwing Enhanced Edition is out now on Playstation 4 and PC.