Space Hulk

Much like the heavily armoured Terminators that make up its protagonists, Space Hulk is a lumbering beast of a game, ponderously stumbling around without the precision or tactical nous it needs to really get its power claws into you.

It has its moments, and when storm bolter ammo bites into the purple flesh of a Genestealer and the dread creature explodes in a shower of gore for the first time you won't be able to contain a smile. But the fourth time? And the twentieth?

Sure, there are occasions when you do feel like you're in command of a crack squad of genetically engineered veterans, each honed through centuries of battle and housed in the finest, most powerful armour that their chapter has to provide.

But then you'll watch one of them blundering into a wall, trying to find the best way to turn a corner, or watch him shuffle around on the spot with all the finesse of a camel wrapped in tyres, and you'll start to wonder what you're doing with your free time.

No space

The game is a staunchly accurate portrayal of the third edition of the classic boardgame, all wrapped up in a shiny and impressive-looking 3D engine. You're in charge of a squad of space marines, and it's up to you to finish a series of missions set in the titular hulk.

But within the tight, dripping corridors lies a swarm of Genestealers. These abominations like to claw face first and then claw some more face later on, and they're not going to be happy until they've clawed the faces right off all of your super-soldiers.

These beasts are blips on the map until you see them, at which point they become multi-armed heralds of death.

Everything is controlled with taps, from selecting your Terminators to sending them down corridors and selecting the actions you want them to perform. You can move, shoot, punch, and open doors.

But the most important moves in your arsenal are the more complex ones. Set up overwatch on a marine and he'll blast anything that comes into his line of sight. Put him in guard stance and he'll have a better chance of surviving close combat.

All hulk

Everything you do costs action points. Once you've used all of these up it's time for the Genestealers to have a scurry around. If they get close enough to you they'll attack, and some of your marines will probably die.

The cruelty here is often unbearable, and it's easy to get wiped out in a matter of seconds if the dice rolls, which are mostly handled behind the scenes, don't go your way. Even on the easiest difficulty settings you're going to be seeing the Mission Failed screen a lot.

Playing tactically is the only way to stand a chance, but even then the odds often feel stacked in the Genestealer's favour.

The problem is, Space Hulk stays too close to its roots, and in doing so becomes a weird mix of boardgame, video game, and something in between. It's a jarring blend that does the final product no favours whatsoever.

Hulk breach

Where in the boardgame you'd pick up and twist or slide your miniatures, here everything is presented in awkward, stompy graphics. It makes things seem almost surreal, as giant super soldiers fumble their way around the battlefield like it's the first time they've ever seen one.

Queues of Genestealers stand patiently behind doors, their arms wiggling a bit, as though waiting for a lift in an office block. And when it's their turn and they do get through the door they'll kill you and you'll have to start over.

Space Hulk can't decide which camp it falls into, and so becomes a slavish digital adaptation of a resoundingly physical activity. And that just doesn't work.

There's plenty to play here, with a huge campaign mode and an impressive multiplayer component too, but none of it is enough to change the fact that Space Hulk is too muddled to really recommend.

Space Hulk

It has its moments, but Space Hulk stumbles too often to really recommend