Space-Hulk--Deathwing-Definitive-Edition-Review Space Hulk: Deathwing Definitive Edition Review

   22/05/2018 at 17:42       Chris OToole       0 COMMENTS. - Score 3/5
 - FPS, PS4, PC, Games Workshop, Space Marines

Review by Ashley Fiddes.

 

Space Hulk: Deathwing Definitive Edition on the PS4 is based in the popular Warhammer 40k universe.  Originally released on PC in 2016 the enhanced edition sees it land on PS4 for the first time.  

The game sees you take control of a librarian in Deathwing, the 1st company of the Dark Angel’s chapter of space marines, as they enter a giant dead ship – the space hulk.  The first thing you note upon entering the space hulk is how well the characters have been modelled.  You can clearly see a lot of time and attention has been taken in ensuring that your Dark Angel brothers look the part. Your starting weapons, the storm blaster and force sword share the screen as your tank like marine takes his first steps into the darkness.  As I strode through the first area, the sound of my heavy footsteps rang through the air I felt like a powerful space marine and was excited for the journey ahead.

I was really enjoying feeling like a walking tank by the time I reached my first encounter, one of my team (you are part of a three-man squad) shouted something about a xenos and began to fire, I turned towards the enemy to find it dead.  That wasn’t the end though as a stream of three or four enemies come running out of the darkness ahead of me. It was here that the first issue reared it head.  The dark corridors ahead of me were just too dark and it was difficult to make out the enemies in front of me, the muzzle flash of the storm blaster, a really cool touch, made keeping track of the enemies even harder and the recoil meant that the spray would more often than not miss the target.  

Thankfully, the AI members in my team seemed much more capable than me and they dispatched the rest of them with ease.  A quick trip to the menu saw me turn up the contrast to its highest setting, which firstly showed how much attention to detail was taken to all of the walls which I would have missed if I had not made this change and secondly, removed a lot of the atmosphere that I was enjoying - but at least I could see the enemies and was not going to be blinded by the muzzle fire.  As I continued through the mission I found myself more and more disappointed with my weapons, the storm blaster although looking amazing seemed to be underpowered and the ADS (clicking in R3) took a little too long to activate/deactivate to be too useful.  The flame sword had a charge attack that saw you hold down L2 which meant that instead of having the attack happen instantaneously it took a few seconds for the sword to swing, a few seconds that see you getting attacked. 

Each chapter of the game gives you access to a large sprawling maze-like section of the space hulk and it is easy to get lost, thankfully you have access to a decent map that allows you to easily plot the route to the objective.  As you make your way there, you come across doors which are operated by pressing the access button on the right – but I am a Librarian in the Dead Angel’s chapter of the space marines, so I punch my way through them and continue on my way.  This is one of the most satisfying parts of the game. Side note – I may regret that later.  

I managed to complete the rest of the mission and was given access to a new weapon, a reward that continues for the first 2/3rds of the game before the game switches to upgrading your Librarians armour.  Additionally, your performance is evaluated at the end of every mission and you are awarded ability points based on whether you had a poor to perfect run. These points allow you to upgrade either you, your comrades or your psychic abilities.

As I progressed through the missions I would constantly try the new weapons, hoping that I would find one with the punch needed to make me feel powerful but one after the other they were discarded, any strengths hamstrung by weaknesses.  The worst offenders were the Thunder Hammer and the Mace.  Weapons I was excited to try until I realised it removed any long-range attack.  This is an issue when there are enemies on every level who stand in areas you cannot reach and shoot rockets at you.  

To compliment your weapons you also had access to psychic abilities.  These were the most fun in the game and I found myself maxing out the ability bar to gain access to all of the destructive toys.  My favourite was the flame vortex which sent a pillar of fire down a corridor burning every enemy it hit. 

Throughout the game, the waves of enemies grew more and more numerous until the sound of your space marine brothers calling out that we were surrounded (we were not) or that the xenos were unnumbered were repeated ad-nauseum. With that number of enemies rushing/shooting you, you were going to get hit, with each hit damaging a specific body part causing it to go yellow, orange, red then dead.  Thankfully the game gives you plenty of healing options.  Firstly, one of the AI space marines carries eleven med kits that you can quickly use to heal yourself or your allies, these become extremely important as you progress through the story and I would have a constant eye on how many med kits I had remaining.  Once these were exhausted or your healer AI had bit the dust you were able to use a ‘psy gate’ and warp back to the load out area where you can swap equipment, replenish health and most importantly med kits.

It was a great system that allowed you to take a breather during the more hectic parts of the game, unfortunately it was mapped to the track pad on the PS4 controller, which for many games is how you access the map.  On many occasions I would hit the trackpad to open the map before swearing at myself for being an idiot as the count down (it takes ten seconds for the psy gate to appear) flashed onto my screen.  This would be nothing more than a minor annoyance except that over the course of the game, the numerous times I made this mistake, I could not find a way to cancel the input. So found myself wasting a psygate which I probably could have used later on in the chapter.  

Towards the end of the game, the constant waves of enemies become a little repetitive and the underwhelming weapons started to make the game feel a little dull, however the story was space marine-y enough to want me to carry on, to continue the fight for the glory of the emperor.  I won’t spoil anything but I will say that the final set piece left me with a smile on my face as I faced down the horde of xenos with my two invaluable brothers.  

If you would like more than the campaign the enhanced edition has special missions which unlock as you progress through the story, these allow you to pick a class and have class specific weapons as you carry out additional objectives.  These looked fun but had the same issues as the main campaign.  Lastly there was a multiplayer mode that I was unable to try as it was not yet live.  

Overall the attention to detail in the character models, the story and the overall atmosphere seem to be muted by the somewhat dull, repetitive encounters and the disappointing guns.  This is a real shame as I enjoyed my time exploring the space hulk and the story behind it as well as punching my way through every door I possibly could.

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