Developer Full Control proves that when it comes to the Space Hulk franchise, they are fans first and foremost. After the first iteration of Space Hulk, the public screamed to the heavens. They didn’t like that the digital representation of their beloved board game didn’t meet their (too high?) expectations. But Full Control listened to their critics and decided to polish, tweak, paint, adjust styles and speeds, and put it all into free updates.
And now they’ve one-upped themselves with this incredible Space Hulk Ascension title, containing all the updates, DLC, fresh options, and new fixes that solve even the problems from their most vicious critics.
Looking through history, Space Hulk Ascension is the game people will remember as the masterpiece which actually supersedes the legendary board game in many ways. And before the hate mail starts flowing through the tubes like rich, delicious, Canadian syrup, let me explain.
Enter Space Hulk Ascension
The original board game from the early 1980’s set the stage for Full Control’s digital take on the game. Painted miniatures, 3D set construction and a limited print run made the first few editions a hard-to-find collector’s item. Since then, players who had the board game cherished each set, and those who didn’t have to kiss their butts, or wait for a digital edition. Full Control released Space Hulk in 2013 to a perfectly polarized audience with die-hard fans enjoying the exact board-game representation, but many new players disappointed with the game’s (slow) speed and lack of customization compared to similar strategy titles. The original Space Hulk often felt slow, sluggish, and at times painful to watch – let alone play.
Space Hulk Ascension literally wipes away all the bad things from the original release thanks to better looks, sounds, and above all, a better feel (making it feel like a brand-new title with a familiar warmth).
The Terminators now have names you can care about, including their ranks. Losing one feels like losing a close co-worker who helped you climb out of the phone support ranks. In this aspect, individual micromanagement falls into the realm of XCOM: Enemy Within, where you can outfit each Terminator individually, according to your preferences.
Two of my biggest complaints with the original Space Hulk was the speed of each Terminator’s moves and how the cut-scenes would follow each move. This is something that Full Control thankfully fixed with patches before the iOS release on the iPad version. In Ascension, these options are further customizable with even more tasty controls. Simply moving through the options menu makes this feel like Space Hulk 2.0 and not a simple update.
Ascension also includes a ton of new levels to challenge everyone, from novice to master strategist, and even the online games don’t seem nearly as tedious as they once did.
There are a few downsides to Space Hulk Ascension. The first is the UI for menus and missions. Look at them. They aren’t the worst ever, but I don’t know if Full Control was trying to keep with the 1980’s “Blurred Tron” theme and picked a UI from a VIC-20 diskette. The second is probably a Mac-only issue: very clunky turning movements with the Terminators.
The idea behind Space Hulk is simple: a team of heavily armed Space Marines needs to clear out any remaining living species on board of huge floating piles of jetsam. However, the hallways on these hulks are tiny. I have claustrophobia myself, and I can feel myself holding my breath as each Terminator built like the Incredible Hulk attempts to turn around in the aisle way. Let alone trying to turn with a full set of Dreadnaught armor, a flamethrower, a tank of fuel, a tank of oxygen, and still have to look out for creeping aliens in the dark who can one-shot kill you. But to do this while using an Apple Magic Mouse? Forget it!
Dear Apple, Please make a proper gaming mouse. It doesn’t have to look like a shoe horn or a shaved slice of sharp cheddar cheese. Lots of love and kisses; Chris.
The graphics resemble the original Space Hulk game, although now you can customize each Terminator to your liking.
I played Space Hulk Ascension on a 2012 MacBook Pro, non-retina, with 16GB of memory and a 650GT NVidia graphics card. I did not see any slowness or graphics clipping during any of the movement or cut-scenes at all.
However, on a 2011 MacBook Air with the Intel 3000 chipset, I had to lower the graphics settings to the lowest possible to play, with visible graphics tearing and clipping during each scene or movement. Full Control has mentioned the game will play without an issue on Retina displays, however, I haven’t tested the configuration.
- Beautiful remake of a classic board game
- Maintains a scary and claustrophobic feeling
- Fixes most complaints from the first Space Hulk
- Multiplayer could use some work
- Games tend to drag on when playing against skilled opponents
- Annoying sound effects over time
- Still not much story, but really – is one needed?
This is a brilliant digital interpretation of the original board game. Anyone on the fence for buying Space Hulk now has no more excuses, since Full Control has proven itself as a development house worthy of our trust in building a solid product and supporting the title. Well worth the price of admission.