Space Hulk logo

Since Space Hulk drifted its way into the Gamer igloo (it's grim this time of year up north), it's received a fair amount of attention. As we crouched around the fire the other night discussing tactics, I drifted into a slumber and dreamed we were all space marines... There we were, a lethal squad of terminators aboard the Space Hulk, our mission to destroy the genestealers before deadline.

Our mission briefing commenced, with a morale-boosting message from the emperor, Bloomers: "After you've carried those boxes over to the silo, I'd like to infiltrate the Space Hulk and terminate the dreaded enemy."

BRIEFING
Sitting there, quaking in my oversized Burtons spacesuit, my expression drooped further as our squad leader continued his briefing.
"Right, we've got no choice, it's our job. Anyone who complains I'll personally take out to the fighting tree and beat seven shades out of them, so no whinging, let's get on with it! Any comments?"

From the corner of the room a timid hand slowly broke the line of stooped heads. It was technical officer Colon, trembling as he spoke.
"I think it would be a good idea if were were all a bit quieter..." he stuttered, adjusting his fluorescent shoulder band.
Before anyone could comment he was floored, one fatal blow from hard ex-con Dazza Biggs. I gulped hard and quickly started moving boxes with my Gamer colleague Biff.

I don't recall how long we lumped parcels into the silo, but that's dreams for you. Time seemed an impossible quantity to measure, everything became translucent and before I knew it we were assembled at the main entrance to the Hulk.

The hardest, finest set of marines this side of Macclesfield and me. I eyed them one by one looking into the steely grit of their vacant pupils.

Squad leader Ste-Vee, a veteran with psychopathic tendencies. Big Ozzie, second in command, a huge beast of a man and not to be trifled with. Buttux, a brutal individual with masochistic tendencies towards the young or infirm.

Then came Dazza Biggs, wanted in four separate start systems for felonies against the state. Next in line Choons Morse, who wears a sound system in battle and goes into a blood-letting frenzy to the sound of a bone-crunching piano line. Following him, A-Dum, whose voyeuristic desires had led him to take vid-shots of all the carnage -f riend or foe. As Biff (who's by far the youngest) and myself took our places in line, we exchanged a nervous glance and waited.

DARK RECESSES
The silence was abruptly broken by the dulcet bark of Ste-Vee.
"Biff, Clays, lead the assault!"
I swallowed hard and nervously cocked the firing pin on my Bolter. Its sound resonated around the Hulk like the drop of the hangman's noose, cold and final.

The door of the hulk slid open and a cold wind blew at your visors. Simultaneously we both gulped, then stepped forward into the gloomy half light, shaking. Seeing the fright in our petrified eyes the others laughed, and taunted us as we switched to radio contact only.

Amid the noise of the intercom abuse, the others fell back and we explored the dark recesses of the corridor. It smelled, the stench of death lingering on the mouldy walls.

Ahead, a bend in the passage and the prospect of trouble. We don't want to move but we must. Every muscle and fibre in our bodies locked out with tension, telling us not to proceed further, but there's no choice. The corner looms, the trigger finger shakes nervously and eyes burn into the darkness searching for shapes. Then from nowhere, a screech and it's on you, violating your space. Four clawed arms scratching and tearing with no remorse. We scream but it's to no avail.

A red hue deepens over my sleep and suddenly I'm drawn from Lady Moprhine's world, slumped in front of a frosty monitor in the Gamer igloo. Rising to my feet I'm suddenly filled with calm and the realisation that this dream has given birth to an introduction which both sets the scene and shows some of the atmosphere that Space Hulk generates.

Based loosely on the role-playing game, Space Hulk is set in a future world, long after man has developed warp drive and explored the frontiers of the void.

The game gets its name from the battleground for all the missions, the Space Hulks. These floating ghost ships are the results of cross currents in the warp drive which left them trapped. These abandoned nightmares have long been the bane of the Empire as they have become the breeding ground for the Genestealers.

The first thing to say about Space Hulk si that it's a very indepth game. In the normal 'eager to get into the action' fashion I jumped straight into one of the mission settings. Needless to say each campaign lasted about 15 seconds, with all five of the Terminators having eaten space vacuum and me me staring blankly at the screen, listening to the haunting loading tune.

Never has it been so imperative to sit down with the manual and study it. In fact, in Space Hulk there are two to peruse and they're well worth a throughscan.

The game also contains an in-depth tutorial mode which comprehensively guides you through each aspect of control and tactics. Basically, it runs off two main screens, both of which are accessed by your favourite pal the mouse. The main screen contains 3D windows of your team and an overhead scanner view.

CHANGING CURSOR
There are five windows in all, the largest being the central one which normally contains the character you wish to control. This isn't to say that control isn't possible within the four smaller windows, it's just that due to the size, control is easier to instigate in the central one.

Movement and firing within the graphic window is via a cursor which alters depending upon its position within the window. At the edges of the window it moves you in the relative direction to its position and in a more central position it changes into a crosshair and fires your weapon.

Due to the nature of Space Hulk and the speed of which the Genestealers attack, a number of strategical options have been implemented. Clicking on the right mouse buttonw hen the cursor is on the overhead scanner transfers you to a control screen, where team orders can be given. Here icons allow you to order your squad members to move, open and close doors, and most importantly, put down fire.

Another feature is overwatch mode. This adds an extra dimension of intelligence to your team and should be treated as a default mode for moving.

For example, when one of your marines is following your orders and something attacks him, it would be quite natural for hims to react - overwatch implements this for your automatically.

Obviously with five or even ten marines at your disposal, planning and ordres can take quite a while, so a freeze time facility is included.
Unfortunately for you, freeze time is limited so you can't take a light year deliberating over strategy. However, the longer you play in real time, the quicker your freeze builds up again.

Once you've completed the tutorial, there are over 50 missions to pit your wits against, including the ominous Deathwing campaign.
In the Deathwing campaign you can make the decision over which squad to take into battle and which type of weaponry you fancy kitting your Terminators out with. There are 12 in total and they vary from the rocket-shelled Bolter through to the highly effective Heavy Flamer.

Once you've established how to control Space Hulk, it becomes a fairly atmospheric, addictive title. All right, it drags most of its inspiration form Aliens, but it's for you to decide whether that's a good thing or not.

Most of the Hulks are very similar in style and the graphics aren't that well rendered. However, they're effective enough and coupled with the moody soundtrack give enough of an overall effect.

The main problem with Space Hulk is that it really is difficult. The Genestealers move quicker than Sooty would do if Harry Corbett's hand was cryogenically frozen. This makes for long periods of depression and desperation, until you master how to defeat them effectively.

For worse though is the amount of disk accessing you have to go through and the fact that the program isn't hard drive installable. You might think I'm being pedantic, but after the seventh mission failure it starts to grate a little. You've spent a total of 45 seconds getting annihilated and 35 minutes disk swapping to the sound of something off Scooby Doo.

This aside though, once you've mastered the control you'll really get into Space Hulk and find it addictively challenging for a long while.


Gladiators are you ready?

Space Hulk
Terminators
Almost all Marine Chapters have Terminator suits. usually old, they've been passed down the ages and are covered in the scars of battle. Only the best marines are bestowed the honour of using the armour.
Along with this honour comes extra training and effective technology for battle. All suits contain life support systems, bio-scanners, energy scanners, auto sensors and targeters.

Space Hulk
Genestealers
A horror or teeth and claws. the Genestealer is the perfect biological killer. They know no fear and feel no remorse and have one prime directive; to multiply and survive.


Those controls in full?
Space Hulk
  1. Secondary terminator monitor
  2. Objects displayed
  3. Freeze time
  4. Order phases
  5. Primary terminator monitor
  6. Overhead scanner
  7. Terminator number
Space Hulk
  1. Move (overwatch)
  2. Turn
  3. Open/close door
  4. Squad list
  5. Terminators
  6. Overhead map
  7. Strategic map
  8. Carry out command
  9. Cancel
  10. Switch squads
  11. Range of Fire
  12. Order phases
  13. Number of shots


Space Hulk logo

Forget the idea of the girly 'new man'. It is your hulkiness that makes things happen in this space-based skirmish war game, so pump up your pecs and prepare for battle...

Being a man is what being a Space Marine is all about. Not a girlie-swat 'new man', but a big, tough, bio-engineered man with a ridiculously large suit of armour sporting the sort of weaponry that usually adorns a tank.

Space Hulk gives you the opportunity to play a whole team of such hormonally unbalanced Übermensch and shoot lots of nasty aliens in the process. It is based on the massively successful Warhammer 40,000 game that uses funny shaped dice and has ruined the eyesight of many a modeller painting the little figures.

You play the Imperial Captain of the Dark Angel chapter of Space Marines and control a squad of terminators. These are heavily equipped nutters with no fear of death. Just as well because lots of them end up dead and it does not seem to put them off.

Kill! Kill! Kill!
The eponymous Space Hulks are vast derelict spaceships that wander through warp space and are home to colonies of Genestealers. Your missions revolve around entering the Space Hulks and doing battle with the Genestealers. These loathsome creatures do horrible things to people given half a chance, so your response is simple: you kill them.

There are 14 training missions and 37 missions proper. Most are fairly short and involve retrieving objects, getting to a set place or just blasting the hell out of as many creepies as you can. There are two main screens, a first-person view from each terminator and a Planning screen. The action takes place in real time but can be frozen at any point, which is handy because things can happen pretty quickly. You re only given a limited amount of 'frozen time' to play with though, so you have still got to think quick.

From the Planning screen you can issue orders to each marine, to move them about, open doors and shoot. From the View screen you can see what each marine sees and you can take direct control of them.

While not under direct control marines can be left in Overwatch. They will fire at any alien that crosses their line of sight, but won't turn around ad so will get mashed if some sneaky alien scum catches them from behind. Some missions can be played using just one screen - the two methods of control are awkward at first, but the trick is to freeze things regularly to keep track of what is going on.

Complete control
First stop is giving your walking tanks some orders while the action is frozen. Each marine is assigned a destination or course of action by clicking on a series of icons. Then you can switch to the view screen, unfreeze things and watch them clump about. If a Genestealer jumps out unexpectedly, you can intervene and take control of the blasting. You can also leave your chaps to it and hope they manage, or freeze things and go back to the Planning screen to adjust your strategy.

The game tends to go in little spurts of adrenaline with the real-time business at the View screen, although this is interspersed with more thoughtful tactical manoeuvrings at the Planning screen.

The tension is built up nicely from the outset. You feel like that bloke in Aliens as he watches his team of marines on the TV monitors.

It's dark in there
The graphics are suitably dark and moody and convey the claustrophobic atmosphere well without being outstanding. Dark music sets the scene and sound effects - shooting, screams, footsteps and more shooting add atmosphere. However, the game comes on three disks so if you only have one disk drive there is lots of tedious disk swapping.

There are also many tutorials - this game is not easy and even hardened game players are in for a testing time. Having spent a few minutes choosing, loading and being briefed it can all be over in a few seconds of mayhem. It takes patience to get to a point where you can kick some butt without getting your own soundly whipped.

If things go wrong you are immediately taken out of the mission, often you do not even see what got you or where you went wrong. You just watch with dismay as the view screens for each man are splattered in blood. Missions require careful planning - the skill is in carefully moving your team so all your backs are covered.

You're dead
Space Hulk will undoubtedly be loved by the same sort of people who are into the original Warhammer 40,000 stuff. It requires attention to detail, planning and a good deal of tactics interspaced with snatches of fast reflexes. Switching in and out of real-time gives the game a very stop-go feeling.

The mix of arcade and strategy might annoy purists from each school, but the mix works reasonably well. Only occasionally do you die for no better reason than you were too slow with the mouse.

There is a great sense of urgency as you watch the Genestealers close in on your position. It can be frustratingly difficult, entire teams wiped out time after time as you try to get the hang of a mission.

If you long for an alter-ego crackling with testosterone and want tot take jaunts into the bowels of huge ruined space ships hunting and being hunted by vicious alien life-forms then, er, you are probably a bit weird, actually.

Space Hulk should be right up your street as long as you can hack the skirmish wargaming elements and are patient enough to get into it. Suck this alien scum.



Sternenk(r)ampf

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...

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)



Space Hulk logo

Don't make these aliens angry - you wouldn't like them then.

Some things demand to be ripped off. Not ripped off like Robert Maxwell's pensioners, I mean copied artistically. For example, James Brown must have known that he couldn't get away with being so funky without a few thousand other people thinking, "I'd love to sound like that."
One of the most emulated ideas of recent times has to be Aliens. Everything from TV ads to, er, computer games have taken a page out of that book (But it's a film. - Ed) and created their very own Aliens scenario.

Space Hulk has got 'Aliens' written all over it. The basic plot involves a group of Space Marines (like Ripley and co) fighting a host of alien creatures known as Genestealers (God knows what they do with all those Levis), who inhabit derelict spacecraft. The Genestealers look so simialr to Giger's exo-skeletal nightmares, you'd be forgiven for thinking the whole idea had been ripped off wholesale. Because you'd be absolutely right.

Space Hulk isn't the first game to put the Aliens idea onto the Amiga. Ignoring the obvious Alien 3 (when it eventually comes out), Alien Breed springs to mind, and indeed Space Hulk is very much a mixture between Team 17's overhead view shoot-'em-up and Dungeon Master - with a few of its own ideas thrown in too.

You control teams of special Space Marines known as Terminators (another familiar phrase) engaged in the endless task of defeating the Genestealers. The main view screen offers the Dungeon Master-type view point, and you control your troops moving down corridors in very much the same way as the classic RPG. You can easily switch between the different members of your team, too, enabling you to create covering situations and so on.

The trouble is, Genestealers move very quickly, much quicker than your cumbersome Terminators, and if your only control was the "ambling along corridors" variety, the whole team would be dead within minutes.

Instead you need to go to the Planning Screen, where you can determine the paths of all the different Terminators in your group and set them all off at once. For this you utilise the Freeze Time option, which gives you a limited amount of time in which to plan your assault. When you're not freezing time, you really are working against the clock, as the blighters often storm you before you can say "Sigourney Weaver".


Space Hulk has got 'Aliens' written all over it

The crux of play, then, is a sort of strategy combat game. Get your troops into the most effective positions against the alien threat, set time back to normal and do battle. You can leave your troops to fight it out, but they don't last very long without your help, so you're constantly skipping back to the main view screen to fight. This makes the action very start-stop, as you constantly flit between real time, frozen time, planning stages and main views. As such, it works very well.

The atmosphere is highly-charged tension, very like that scene in Alien where they're hunting the creature through the ship. The music and sound enhance this superbly, and you're soon caught in the spell.

What lets it down is the lack of variety. You never see any other aliens apart from the Genestealers, which puts it behind even the archaic (but still great) Dungeon Master for diversity. There are other assignments, like retrieving objects from the hulks, but you're still subjects to lots of very similar looking interiors, and the odd flash of Genestealers either tearing you to pieces (it happens a lot) or going up in flames.

Space Hulk is a game to get seriously involved in, but you shouldn't expect too many surprises.



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.

Don'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, REMEMBER
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.

DISMEMBER, DISMEMBER
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.

FIND THE MAGIC TREE
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.

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.

ALL TOGETHER NOW
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.

SOB STORY
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.


BRRRR!

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

SHOW YOUR BRIEFS

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?

EASIER THAN AMOS

Space Hulk

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.

WATCH OUT!

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?