As the final expansion to Space Hulk: Ascension, it seems only fitting that Full Control reintroduced the chapter which started it all. Having been absent from all too many releases over the past years, the long wait to see elite Deathwing forces once more battling Genestealers has been well worth it. Even without the nostalgia rush, this particular chapter proves to be one of the best additions to the Ascension to date.
In many respects the Dark Angels here emulate the Ultramarines, remaining a range focused faction with a primary emphasis upon versatility. While they lack the close range ferocity of the Space Wolves, the weapons choices of the Salamanders or even any real positive stats modifiers, their advantage lies in their overall design and tactical approach to war.
Even more so than the other chapters, their special abilities and support elements place great emphasis upon close support and co-ordination. Along with having the unique class of Apothecary capable of boosting the Terminators’ combat performance, the Librarian’s sparky new powers are less about mind bullets than they are enhancements. One of the earliest ones proves to be a godsend, as it allows the psyker to grant additional action points to nearby units. The chapter is very much the jack of all trades choice, well suited to someone desiring tactical flexibility, and is backed by unique and very meaty plasma cannon options; a weapon which doesn’t so much kill Genestealers as burn through them by the dozen.
The missions this time are notably far more difficult than past outings, with a campaign clearly intended for experienced players. With an opening mission which leaves the squad in the open, divided with many nearby spawn points for Tyranids, it’s not a campaign with a difficulty curve so much as a brick wall. Navigating the labyrinthine network of tunnels and keeping everyone alive proves to be especially difficult, though many of the objectives ultimately boil down to a repeat of what we’ve seen before. It’s certainly challenging, but it lacks the additional variety found in some prior expansions, and it’s especially notable if you jump from the Salamanders adventurous maps to the more static campaign here.
Really though, if you’ve been holding off on Ascension to see if things might get better, now’s the time to grab it. While it might be lacking the ebon armoured Iron Hands chapter (damn it) or a few fan favourites, the variety of forces on offer, depth of combat and multiple lengthy campaigns makes this a worthy purchase. As easily one of the best adaptations of Space Hulk to date, this is one no avid fan of the grim, dark far future should be without.
SPACE HULK: ASCENSION – DARK ANGELS DLC / DEVELOPER: FULL CONTROL STUDIOS / PUBLISHER: FULL CONTROL / PLATFORM: PC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW