GAME REVIEW: SPACE HULK ASCENSION – IMPERIAL FIST DLC / DEVELOPER: FULL CONTROL STUDIOS / PUBLISHER: FULL CONTROL / PLATFORM: PC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
The first DLC addition to Full Control’s second stab at the classic Warhammer 40,000 series, this sees another famed space marine chapter joining the Ultramarines, Space Wolves and Blood Angels. Famed as siege specialists and tenacious urban fighters, the Imperial Fists’ abilities are largely defensive, contrasting them with the other chapters.
Rather than offering attack bonuses or certain special weapons, the Fists instead benefit from improved heat management and defensive melee bonuses. This allows them to better hold choke points, fire longer, and stand a better chance of surviving when ambushed in close combat, with the added bonus of being able to bring down a Tarantula heavy weapons turret. The latter proves to be especially useful as it offers an additional fire-point to block off a hallway with a wall of fist-sized bullets.
While this may sound like the perfect combination, these advantages are offset by a complete lack of Librarians and no hit modifiers. This lack of a psychic to kill foes with mind bullets or erect telekinetic barriers and no immediate hit modifiers means players need to far more carefully plan their advance. They ultimately fulfil a role previously left to the Ultramarines, slowly advancing with overlapping fields of fire, but emphasises survivability over rapid kills.
Atop of this additional faction, the DLC comes with a new campaign tailored to the Fists, adding another fifteen hours to the experience. On the one hand this offers a new lease of life to the title, but on the other much of it is ultimately just more of the same. It sticks to a winning formulae but it desperately needs a tad more innovation and choice. While Space Hulk emulates XCOM’s sudden-death and stats progression, it lacks the further drive of something outside deploying the terminators into battle.
What is worth mentioning beyond the DLC itself are the improvements to Space Hulk’s performance. Since its release, many early problems, such as the poor frame-rate and occasional clipping through scenery, have been vastly improved. While a few distinct issues do remain, such as the occasionally-slow new opening cut scene, many major bugbears which plagued Space Hulk at launch are thankfully dead and buried.
Despite the issues with the campaign, the Imperial Fist DLC is a solid addition to a great game. If you’ve been holding off getting the Ascension Edition, now is the time to take a serious look at buying a copy. Fans of the license will find a faithful adaptation of the board game with influences from the right genres, and with the Imperial Fists appealing to players who favour turtling, it has enough tactical variety to keep you going for hours.
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