Space Hulk: Deathwing Enhanced Edition Review (PS4)
''We have a hulk''
Space Hulk Deathwing Enhanced Edition is a sci-fi first person shooter developed by Streumon Studio and published by Focus Home Interactive. Shoot your way through hordes of enemies to uncover mysteries,while also trying not to die!
In the story you take on the role of the most feared and secretive space marines throughout the entirety of space,the Deathwing from the Dark Angels. As a member of the Deathwing you will wander through deep dark ships and spooky atmospheres to mow down any enemy alien you can and uncover any mystery that lies beneath its surface. Do you have what it takes to take on the role of the most feared space marine companies in all the galaxy? or will you just be another chump who ends up alien fodder?
I'm going to start off by saying I never played the original version of this game or even played the games that its based off of or inspired by(Game workshops sci fi universe), so all the game play and things I saw in the game will be completely new and hold no bias whatsoever. So without further stalling,let's get to cracking on what I liked and disliked after spending my time with this game.
The game operates like your standard first person shooter, you enter a level,get an objective to complete and go on your way to completing said objective. You then have to go up against hordes of enemy aliens that stand in your way of said objective,no problem. The variety of enemies vary depending on what level you're currently on,but it goes a little something like this. Enemies that will confront you range from standard smaller rushing aliens that chase you,bigger ones that focus more on power,exploding enemies and even enemies with rocket launchers.
None of the enemies you come across are really hard to kill,but there is quite a large amount of them to overcome and it doesn't make it easier when they come from all directions at once, so you will need to be on your toes. Your radar lets you know which direction they're coming based off the flashing signal it gives off,such as red from a specific direction will indicate where the threat is coming from. Always pay attention to this because you do not want to be bombarded by a sneaky enemy that blows himself up and kills you in nearly one hit.
As a space marine you get a choice of what gun you wish to use,what secondary weapon you wish to use and what specific powers you want for each mech marine on your team. As the main member of your team you start off with the basic storm bolter machine gun,which acts as your standard machine gun,this gun can also be upgraded to a Storm Bolter MK II,which increases its firing rate and reliability. There are a total of 12 different weapons to choose from in your ''class selection'' menu. Each ranging from mini gun to other sets of machine guns.
Picking your secondary weapon is also vital to how well you will survive incoming hordes because some melee will work better on some enemies than they do on others. For instance, some of the choices you get vary between having your bare fists of the mech as your main form of melee called the ''Power Fist''. While other forms of secondary weapons include items such as Force Sword and Force Axe. Each weapon,much like your main weapon, also have stats that are beneficial to you,such as the amount of damage they do and how fast their speed of movement is. If you keep dying on a specific part of a level,then maybe try changing up both your weapon slots a bit.
Other combat skills you have directly at the beginning of the game are Shockwave and Chainlightning. These two basic skills will be useful early on in the game because each one of them have their own specific use for certain situations you might find yourself in. Shockwave sends a wave of telekentic force that will stun your foes and Chainlightning will send a huge line of lightning towards your foes and sometimes kill them in one hit. Chainlightning is probably one of my favorite techniques in the game because it allows you to take a group of people out nearly all at once. But there are more skills and techniques to use and learn besides those two,a total of 7 can be earned and used throughout the game the further you advance.
Now you might find yourself thinking,''one person going through all of this seems a bit daunting'',but never fear, you have AI buddies that are there to help you,but that's not always a good thing because the AI in this game, as far as your teammates go,is pretty bad. In Space Hulk you're given two friendly AI's who'm work with you as you make your way through enemy carriers,friendly carriers and overall hostile environments and they too are fully customizable with their weapons,secondary weapons and skills. But they're more of a hindrance than an actual helping hand.
The two AI you get on your team in the campaign mode are named Brother Barachief and Brother Nahum and they're absolutely terrible, I know I keep saying this, but it can't be overstated enough. The majority of the time you sense danger with your radar, you start heading to that direction or turn in that direction to prepare to combat the enemy as they run after you, but your AI friends? they'll stare at a wall or go off the other direction. It gets even worse when you're actually fighting a horde straight on face to face though,much much worse.
When you're being over ran by an enemy horde and you manage to get them off yourself,you turn over to one of your friend AI's and he's literally just standing there being attacked from behind and in the front and he isn't bothering to fire his weapon. This requires you to stop what you're doing,even if you're trying to complete an objective and play babysitter to save him from completely dying. If it happened one or two times,then it wouldn't be so bad,but having this happen over and over get's rather cumbersome. Don't even get me started on them standing in your way when you're trying to shoot.
But if I'm going to be honest,which I kinda have to be in these reviews(duh!),then they aren't fully 100% useless,which is nice at times. During missions you're able to use R1 to give each friend a direct order. These orders include telling them to defend a specific position in a certain direction so you can realistically watch three spots at the same time or you can have them do other things such as hack into a door and perform a temporary heal on you if they have that skill equipped. So again,not totally useless,just not AS useless.
There are a total of 9 chapters you must play through and each one of them is creepier than the last. I say it in this way because the game gives off a very good atmosphere to the player with the way the levels are designed. In a lot of ways it reminds me the way of the dark and gritty style was used back on DOOM 3,only more polished and smoother looking. The level's themselves aren't too long,maybe taking you 20-30 minutes to beat depending on how much you die or how many times you die because your friendly AI keeps getting in your damn way! Move! I'm trying shoot! out of the way!
While I have griped about the friendly AI on your team being horrendous,it's not exactly the same for the enemy AI at all,no sir. The enemy AI in Space Hulk is actually pretty damn fun and they keep you on your toes,something when I started playing the game, I didn't expect to be honest. Upon starting the game I would hear growling and clawing against steel pipes and metal stairs,but never could quite tell where it was coming from. The area's are very dark,eerie and damp so you're stuck with a feeling of ''what is out there,where is it,how close are they, is it a they? is it even anything at all?''. This is what sets up the games atmosphere.
The enemies in this game will actually flank you from multiple directions. Your radar may show signs of enemies moving at you from one direction,but don't fall for it because the enemies will also start coming from the ceiling,the walls,pipes and even from underneath you. When I first saw and noticed this it put me on edge because that's when you notice,oh man, I cant just stand in one spot and just mow down a bunch of stupid enemy AI and get away with it in this game. Sorry lazy Amanda,not this time!
the smaller to medium sized enemies will rush you immediately,but the taller one's and more humanoid looking aliens will stay back and pick and choose when to fire. They will fire upon you with machine guns or rocket launchers, so be careful and slowly move your way up to those types of enemies in order to take them out. But like the fast smaller enemy types,even these enemies move from position to position in order to find the exact spot to challenge you and the rest of your space marine friends. This is what gives the game enough challenge to make you get the urge to keep playing.
But like all my reviews, you know what's coming right? whenever I'm too positive on one aspect of a game, I always find something that balances it out on the negative side of things and this still holds true in this review,sorry developers. First I want to get some concerns out of the way that have to do with the enemies themselves. Certain enemies when killed at a distance will completely disappear,vanish and completely just pop off the screen with no death animation,just one simple poof as if someone just clicked the delete button,seems like a glitch to me.
This glitch is also present in enemies that get up and close to you. Usually in this game when shooting an enemy type or electrocuting them, they have a death animation and they bleed,explode and fall to the ground. However there were tons of instances where the enemy would just completely vanish,just like the far away enemies do and this would happen directly in front of me. It's not a game breaking glitch but it completely ruins the immersion of what these developers were trying to give the user and its extremely distracting from the overall experience. But sadly that's not the only thing that ruin's the experience for the player I'm afraid.
I played this game on Playstation 4 Pro and one of the big problems I ran into during the course of the game were slow downs,game freezes and fps drops. I wish I could say this was an every now and then occurrence but it happened every single level and it was multiple times per level. Every few instances in each level I would experience a frame rate drop that was noticeable to the extent that the combat slowed down and then game freezes were apparent when moving around the level my screen and game would freeze for 4-5 seconds at a time and I'd have to sit and wait for the game to unfreeze before continuing. This got quite annoying after the first few times of it constantly happening,even more so when it happened during an actual ambush.
Those were some negatives I had overall,but let's end this section on a brighter note in regards to the game play department. One of the last thing's I want to touch upon that goes hand in hand with what skills/techniques you can use as a player are upgrades you're able to achieve by unlocking them under specific categories. For instance you're able to unlock and beef up your stats in multiple categories that include, Command,Devotion and Psychic. Each upgrade will give you a better skill when commanding your fellow AI partners,improving hacking of turrets and other mechanical consoles and psychic powers that allow you to incinerate your opponent. There are many to choose from so pick wisely!
I dabbled in this a little earlier when I spoke about the games atmosphere. The game graphically looks really good and reminds me a lot of the gritty nature of DOOM 3 from years ago. Due to the level design with the rust,damp look and dark layers of ships and structures you are on,you really feel like you're out on your own in deep space combating an alien race. Everything is super detailed from pipe leaks,to steam,to the lighting,it's just a well put together game visually and level design wise that you're always in the moment and always feel engaged in what you're doing.
For a game only being 9 chapters long,surely there is some replabiltiy to it right? I mean it can't just be a one and done,here's $10 go call a cab night right? Nope,there's more and this comes in the form of a few choices. One of them is going through every level and recovering collectible relics hidden throughout the game,special missions, or you can sink your teeth into the games online multiplayer,whichever trips your trigger.
The online player is co op based. Each server can host up to four people at a time and each one of you gets to customize your mechs according to however you wish to do so and it allows you to pick between 6 different classes to play as. Each class you choose will give you the option to be able to pick their armour,weapons,perks and banners. But you'll have to play a lot of multiplayer if you want to unlock most of them,so go find some buddies and co op through as many missions as you want and collect everything! For the most part with the matches I got put into, I got placed on some pretty good teams and everyone seemed to work well together, it was actually a pleasant experience.
My final thoughts of this game after spending a decent amount of time with it ended with an overall positive reaction. Sure there were annoyances like frame rate drops,game freezes and enemies completely disappearing, but when the game worked,and it did for most of the game,it REALLY worked. The shooting is fun,having to out think enemy AI was entertaining,the amount of skills and customization you're able to do with your character is great and the overall sense of atmosphere and isolation the game makes you feel just completely works. It's weird to say that even though you're a big burly mech space marine with machine guns, the game still manages to make you feel extremely vulnerable at times..
and to that I gotta say hats off to you game, you made me enjoy my time in space!
Space Hulk: Deathwing Enhanced Edition is out now on Playstation 4//PC
*Review code provided by Streumon Studios/Focus Home Interactive