I really .. REALLY .. wanted to like this game.
The original Space Hulk was the game that first brought me into the whole warhammer 40k world (that and the original role playing / skirmish rules). An insane future and hugely rich storyline.
But this game unfortunatley does not build upon any of that wonderful background.
It may be an honourable reworking of the original boardgame rules, but when you have so much more power and potential at your disposal simply trying to emulate a boardgame seems like a real waste of opportunity.
The basic gui and interface is somewhat confuzing and I've often found myself wasting crucial movement / action points on needless turn arounds and minor positioning and placement. When it's really life and death between each round these positioning issues become very anoying. Some may say the game punishes you for being unattentive, but I kind of feel the game punishes you for not being pixel perfect in all your clicking.
The ammo for heavy weapons also is never enough and often I've found myself much rather having a standard trooper with a storm bolter then an assault canon (since bolters don't run out of ammo).
That said, bloody hell for all their high tech guns these guys use they sure friggen JAM a lot !!
I've had some missions end in minutes because every gun jammed everytime it was used.
I realise this is just rolling doubles, but I've played a lot of role playing games and rolled a LOT of dice in my time, and I don't ever recall rolling that many doubles !! Seriously programming guys, can you check your randomizers in your code 'cause I think you've forgotten to remove a rem statement or two.
A one on one battle between a marine and a stealer pretty much results in the loss of your trooper. Having a guy survive an attack is exhilerating but often short lived as usually in the very next round their gun jams and they die anyway.
I totally except this as the gene stealers are meant to be hugely deadly (read their description .. it's horrific), however their overall depiction in the game is more chibba-manga rather then 'holy crap this thing made my toughest guy crap his pants'.
They need to be made bigger and scarier, as from the overall look of the graphics it looks more like the marines should be wiping the slate with the dudes rather then this being a knife edge battle. Maybe too much time was spent animating the marines and too little on the stealers.
The space hulk graphics look great, but there is zero interaction with anything. This is an example of my 'missed opportunity' anoyance from above. Why not drop some fun extra's around the map and allow the marines to interact with the environment. As it stands the overall look at feel could be totally replaced by the tactical map as everything you see pretty much means nothing anyway.
Lastly some of the missions could be aimed more on holding key points and just having fun blasting wave after wave of stealers rather then pushing forward constantly. A real strength in the game should be your marines, but you never really get a chance to use their abilities as your constantly on the backfoot no matter what. Why not drop in a couple fun rounds which just play on the 'theme' rather then being totally based on the 'strategy'.
Good bits :
Killing wave after wave of stealers during those few instances when the guns aren't jamming.
That never gets old.
Marines .. look .. AWESOME
Winning is rewarding.
It should be made much clearer that your not only trying to beat the stealers but also fate itself as the dice play a critical part in the overall outcome of the game. Beating BOTH of these is awesome and keeps the game flowing.
Overall I think the metacritic score is harsh, but it is also fair.
This game will not appeal to everyone, and is actually a very stark introduction to the 40k universe.
It should have been more accomodating to new players and contain more of the huge and awesome background of the 40k universe. This to me is a huge oversite.
The gameplay is very linear yet still brutal against even minor positioning errors.
In that light it's just not something I can see someone who isn't buried in the 40k world would be able to pick up and play.
Recommended, but only to those who are familiar with the 40k world and who will appreciate the time and effort that's gone into this game. It's a game made for them. But for anyone else I can totally understand if they just don't 'get it'.