Brilliantly involving and scary game
Jul 15, 2003
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"I told them to fall back... I told them to fall back..." Despite the primative graphics and 3D imagery, Space Hulk creates an incredible atmosphere. It's a squad-level tactical simulation where you send a group of marines in to clear out spaceships filled with chitinous xenomorphs. Yes, pretty much just like that one sequence in Aliens. To this day, I don't know quite what it was about the game which was so involving, but it sucked me in like I couldn't believe - to the point I was literally shouting commands at my screen when things went badly. (and oh, would they... walk into an ambush and you can see your squad vaped in a matter of seconds) The game also had an innovative blend of real-time and turn-based gameplay. Most of the game plays out in real-time, but you have a certain amount of replenishable time which you could use to pause the game and plot out strategies without being attacked. The balance on it was just about perfect - you always had just not QUITE as much time as you'd like, so even when it's paused, you are kept stressed. You could also switch between an overhead tactical view, and taking control of each Marine (or a group thereof) in first-person mode. Oh, and the background-story ambience added quite a bit too. The religious overtones made everything a bit more creepy - with your commander issuing orders like, "Let the purifying flame cleanse that vessel!"
I got jittery after playing too long and generally had to take breaks to calm down. (I'm not kidding, it really was that immersive. And I generally don't get that "into" games) And I thought the difficulty could have been dialed down a bit - some of the missions, you basically have to memorize (through repeated deaths) where all the aliens would come from to be able to succeed.
The Bottom Line
It's difficult to get working on modern computers, but well worth the effort - and far better than its 1996 sequel, which managed to destroy all the gameplay balance.