GAME REVIEW: SPACE HULK ASCENSION EDITION / DEVELOPER: FULL CONTROL STUDIOS / PUBLISHER: FULL CONTROL / PLATFORM: PC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
The second outing by Full Control to depict the Adeptus Astartes making perilous expeditions into long lost, xenos-infested starships, Space Hulk Ascension Edition is a massive leap forwards from its predecessor. Along with a far broader mix of chapters, many of the massive criticisms levelled at the previous game have been directly addressed here, from atmosphere to progression.
Rather than being limited to the Blood Angels, both the Space Wolves and Ultramarines put in an appearance from the start, each varying slightly in their overall bonuses. Along with this characterising bonus, players can now opt to individually modify and customise their space marines a-la XCOM. This already deals with one major point of content in the previous edition, and provides more incentive to keep your marines alive as you traverse the corroding corridors infested with gene-stealers. Many weapons, items and the overall armory has undergone a similar upgrade, with players being able to tailor make their squad’s equipment, with access to various combi-bolters and new weapons.
Sneaking about the bulkheads and holding choke-points has been made far more interesting with a varied number of attacks. Even the basic storm bolter now comes with several fire modes, each taking up various action points and with overheating problems making a return. It’s obvious here that a big push was made to give the player more control over their units and tactical versatility, and even the visual designs of the levels have undergone a massive upgrade. The previously well-lit corridors are now steeped in shadow, bolters fire fist-sized bullets over the piddly pellets from past editions, and even the basic movement animations have seen an overhaul.
Despite these benefits and a new coat of paint, however, some obvious issues remain. Chief among these is some very strange frame rate problems the game undergoes at times, with sudden slowdowns when too many units are in one area or even focusing upon the wrong part of the map. Furthermore, many visual bugs unfortunately remain, with terminators occasionally clipping through walls as they advance.
The campaigns themselves are hardly memorable and the writing behind them fails to really stand out, often boiling down to very generic tales which fail to really make use of the rich lore. This isn’t helped by the problem of far too many terminators seeming interchangeable despite the upgrades and access to new chapters.
If you are after a version of Space Hulk and can’t get your hands on the board game, the Ascension Edition is well worth your time. Just be warned beforehand that you’re going to enjoy this far more if you’re already a fan of the grim, dark far future.
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