Bring me to the Main Page   Bring me to the Reviews Index


Space hulk logo

Bereits am PC brachte die Brettspiel-Versoftung des futuristischen „Warhammer 4000“-Szenarios den Himmel nicht gerade zum Leuchten – am Amiga gerieten die SF-Schlachten endgültig zum Rohrkrepierer...

Space hulk Schade, denn das brettharte Original von Games Workshop erfreut sich mit Recht einiger Beliebtheit: Hundsgemeine Aliens (die „Genestealer“) reisen mit ihren Schiffen (den „Hulks“) durchs All, um bei jeder sich bietenden Gelegenheit die Menschheit zu terrorisieren. Unsereins schlägt zurück, indem bis zu zwei Temas aus je fünf Soldaten (die „Terminatoren“) diese Hulks stürmen und dort, abhängig von der Mission, Außerirdische eliminieren, Artefakte erbeuten oder bestimmte Örtlichkeiten via Flammenwerfer unpassierbar machen. Anhand von Trainingsaufgaben darf man sich erst mal mit dem Echtzeit-Gameplay auf der etwas kargen 2D-Karte des jeweiligen Raumers vertraut machen; von hier werden die Mannen befehligt. Daneben kann jederzeit schickere 3D-Optik aufgerufen werden, wo auf mehreren Bildschirmen der Blickwinkel jedes Soldaten abrufbar ist.

Hüben wie drüben kommt eine ziemlich gewöhnungsbedürftige Kombination aus Maus- und Tastatursteuerung zum Einsatz, dazu gibt es recht ordentliche Sounds und Musikstücke. Doch der Spielablauf ist leider alles anders als ordentlich: Allüberall beherrschen Hektik und Unübersichtlichkeit das (Schlacht-) Feld, außerdem sind die Aufgabenstellungen geradezu einschläfernd monoton.

Bedenkt man jetzt noch die elend langen Wartezeiten der Amigaversion (an eine HD-Installation wurde trotz A1200-Tauglichkeit nicht gedacht), so kann Space Hulk wahrhaftig keinen Genestealer mehr hinter der Laserkanone hervorlocken. Hier hatte Electronic Arts wortwörtlich ein Brett vorm Kopf... (mic)

Amiga Joker, November 1993, p.96

Amiga Joker
1 MB

Space hulk logo  CU Amiga Screen Star

If you’re into trouble, if nobody else can help and if you can get him out of bed, maybe you could hire Tony Dillon.

Space hulk ’D on’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.’ OK, so it isn’t that kind of Space Hulk, but the fact still remains that not many people do like me when I’m angry. I shout a lot and throw things about. All in all, I can get fairly frightening and imposing, which is probably why I relate so well to Electronic Arts’ stunning new space-bound escapade.

Remember Gremlin’s Space Crusade? Of course you do and if you can remember that, you will also remember that it was based on Games Workshop’s boardgame of the same name, where you took a small group of Space Marines™ and walked them through gigantic alien spacecraft, completing missions and blowing away aliens. It is all good fun, and an excellent exercise in low-scale strategy.
Space Hulk comes from the same series of games, but no amount of Space Crusade, not even the extra missions disk could have prepared me for this.

The game is set far into the future and tells the tale of a collection of warriors called the Terminators, who have been specially bred and equipped to deal with a new form of alien. Forget Space Crusade’s Soul Suckers and Dreadnaughts – they’re eight-stone wimps compared to Genestealers. These things are so tough, that the first time a platoon of Space Marines bumped into them, they were wiped out completely. And the second. And the third. Do you get my drift?

In this future the only way to travel interstellar space is to enter something called The Warp. This parallel universe compresses distances but is extremely dangerous to travel in. The main reason being that it is full of Genestealers and other more unspeakably horrific malevolent alien entities. Sometimes ships are damaged or lost and become infested with aliens. When the ships jump back to normal space they’re carrying a cargo of vicious killer aliens just itching to decimate the nearest planet. I told you they were mean. That is why you get to control up to 10 Terminators over dozens of missions against these things. Well, everyone likes a challenge.

There is a lot to Space Hulk, most of it contained in the huge number of missions, ranging from just getting one Terminator from one side of a map to the other, right through to wiping out dozens of aliens and destroying most of the Hulk at the same time. I counted over 50, including the extensive tutorial missions, which show you how the game works, as well as giving you a chance to develop your strategies and playing style. It is a very difficult game to describe in summary. In a way, it is a mix of every game genre there is, from arcade action to adventure to strategy. It might seem a little difficult to envisage a game like that, so stick with me and I will explain.

First off, you have the arcade element of the game. I did a Mystic Meg and asked you to close your shot on this page that ‘leapt out at you’, chances are you’d go for one of the big ones with the huge slobbering alien crawling all over it. This is the arcade section of the game. Each mission is laid out in a similar style to Space Crusade, with large corridors leading in and out of massive control rooms, with one major difference. It is all viewed in moving first-person perspective, in real time. None of the nancy ‘turns’ that most people seem to go for. Next to the large picture in the middle of the screen shot, you will spot four arrows and a circle. These are your controls, and with these you have to move around the complex blowing away all the aliens that come at you. In a way, this game owes a lot to the old license of the movie Aliens. Not the crap Aliens US, that had a couple of nice graphics but little in the way of suspense. No, the UK Aliens game, where you never quite knew where the aliens were, and umped out of your skin as soon as you saw one coming. Picture Dungeon Master and throw in a bit of Jacob’s Ladder, and you should get some idea of exactly what kind of atmosphere this game piles on.

Secondly, there is the adventure side of the game. As I have already said, there are loads of missions for you to play, and these are broken down into definite groups. Some are training missions, some are the original missions that came with the board game, some are new missions and some belong to the Deathwing Campaign. Once you have mastered the game, and that is something that will take you quite a long time, you can try your hand at a real mission. This 21-mission adventure takes you all the way through a war against the enemy from landing on the Hulk to eventually destroying one of the toughest enemies seen on a computer game. For each mission a member of your team survives, they earn an experience point which obviously improves their general combat skills. There is no point going into one of the later battles with an inexperienced team, so the pressure to keep the same team going adds some real involvement to the game.

Space hulk Finally, and most importantly, there is strategy, and this is where everything ties together. To all intents and purposes, Space Hulk is a strategy game, but like no other. It proves the maxim that no battle was ever won by plans, and no war was ever won by action alone. OK, so it is not a well know maxim, but that is how it goes, word for word. I should know, I just made it up. With a separate planning screen, you can issue orders to each of your troops to go to certain locations and do specific things. Were this less of a game, you would be able to play the entire game from this screen, but the problem is that this screen does not give you the chance to exercise your reflexes. The arcade segments do, and believe me when I say you are going to spend a long time learning when to flick between the two, or just how to stay alive long enough in a mission to actively use both. This is a very, very tough game to beat.

So, let us put all three segments together and see how the game works. At the start of the mission, you are given your basic brief, and then a more detailed one (see panel). Depending on the mission, you may then be asked to select your team and arms. With all out of the way, you start the game in ‘Freeze’ Mode (see panel). Quickly flipping to the planning screen, you scan around the map, checking the locations of the Genestealers in relation to you, and look for the safest route to your destination. From this point, you can do two things. You can either send all your troops to strategic positions – covering likely enemy entrances for example – or you can go into action mode and move the troops about manually, picking off aliens as you come across them. Although the second system is more satisfying initially, the first is far more rewarding, particularly when by some fluke you manage to corner a dozen Genestealers and pick them off with ease, if only so that you can tell everyone you did it intentionally. Moving troops in the planning screen is easier, and allows you more room for clever tactics, but that doesn’t mean you can sit back and watch everything go to plan!

The presentation of Space Hulk is amazing. Visually, it is superb, with the dimly-lit corridors making the more claustrophobic among us itch. Sure, there is a scanner there for us to check the location of the aliens, but that does not stop you jumping when one rushes across one of your troop’s field of vision. Everything is laid out in a sensible way, and actually controlling the game is a doddle right from the first time you play. Just as well really, as it takes so long to actually settle down and start playing properly.

It is very hard to sit down and review a game like this, because there are so few points of comparison with other games. I could try to compare it with Space Crusade, but this has a lot more action than that. I could try and compare it to Dungeon Master, but there is much more strategy. All I can say is hang the comparisons, and rush out to buy it as soon as it hits the shelves. Unless, of course, you have a weak heart, no head for fear or value your social life too much.

CU Amiga, October 1993, p.p.82-84


Space hulk You may have noticed the ‘Freeze’ button on some of the screenshots here. This, as you can no doubt guess, freezes the action and lets you think about your next move. It isn’t, however, a pause button. Yes, it has all the properties of a pause button, in so far as it completely stops game time, but the big difference is that it has a limited use. Immediately below the button is a small bar which shows you how much ‘Freeze Time’ you have, and when the game is frozen, this bar ticks down quickly. Thankfully you can recharge it when playing in real time. Even having a breather has it pressures in this game! Space hulk


Space hulk
Every one of the 51 listed missions in the game is extensively explained and briefed, first with an overview of why the mission is taking place, and then this guy explaining the rest is detail. You are told at which point your troops are deployed, where they have to get to, and the likely entrance points of Genestealers. It might not tell you everything, but you get enough information to begin planning your strategy long before you’ve loaded the actual mission. If that isn’t enough, there are more details in the enclosed mission booklet, plus hints on the best ways to play the mission. How much more do you need?


Space hulk Map
This is the planning screen where most of the strategy takes place. It might look a little confusing at the moment, but using it is easier than loading a PC game. The overhead map
(1) lets you look around the entire map, with all located Genestealers shown. You can issue up to five orders at once to each troop, which are listed in the orders box (2) with all commands taken from the icons at the top of the screen (3-6). In case you’re wondering, the orders available are (3) Move, (4) Turn left/right, (5) Fire weapon, (6) Open/Close door. When all commands have been issued, clicking on the start icon (7) gets everything rolling. Easy? Well we think so.


At first glance, five characters seems a lot to be controlling on your own, particularly in an environment where reflexes are everything. The idea of watching everyone’s back makes everything far too daunting to be playable, so those clever people at EA came up with Overwatch - a limited form of artificial intelligence. With Overwatch on, any troops who are moving around under orders rather than direct control will blast doors open, as well as open fire on any Genestealers approaching, leaving you free to, well, watch them. However, they don’t fire as quickly or as accurately as when you are directly controlling them, so when you hear the sound of gunplay, quickly change to the character firing and take over. It’s the only way. You can turn off the Overwatch if you want, but who would want to?

EA £25.99
OCT ‘93


This will test every level of your gameplaying ability.