Space Hulk first look: purging alien influence in Full Control's loyal boardgame adaptation
In 15 years of having the Warhammer 40K licence, THQ produced not one Space Hulk game. EA managed two in the early 1990s. Now, having reclaimed the precious licence geneseed from THQ's still-smouldering corpse, Games Workshop is determined to rebuild its chapter, producing myriad new clones of its tabletop games - we're counting nine right now, but we're sure there's more to come. And the lucky team to have Space Hulk warp onto their doorstep is Denmark's Full Control. I saw the demo in action at GDC and caught up with Full Control's CEO, Thomas Hentschel Lunt for a chat.
For the uninitiated, the game has the player controlling a squad of Terminator Space Marines as they explore an abandoned spaceship. Terminators, the elite of the elite Space Marines, are genetically-enhanced warriors clad in the ludicrously-named Tactical Dreadnought Armour and equipped with lethal weaponry larger than most men.
Their opponents on the ship are genestealers, tough six-limbed Alien pastiches that are supremely powerful in close combat. The game is turn-based: the Terminators trundle through the claustrophobic corridors towards their objective while the genestealers harry their progress. Each level is a puzzle in which the player has to work out the best squad configuration to get his troops through the tight corridors in one piece - or, more often, simply to sacrifice themselves to achieve their objective.
Full Control has recreated the board game in almost perfect detail, from the design on the hulk's floors to the individually-named First Chapter Blood Angel Terminators of the Sin of Damnation campaign. Lunt is rightly proud of how accurate the game is. The only change I saw was to the Heavy Flamer - the third edition rules allowed you to fill an entire section of the boardgame's modular levels with flame, engulfing an area as large as the room you were firing it into. Here it's a standardised blast of fire covering a set number of squares. The one art innovation is in the hulk's interior walls, which Lunt's team based on the gothic cathedral feel of Imperial exteriors.
The campaign in the game is based on the classic third edition of the board game, where the Blood Angel first chapter is cleansing the hulk known as the Sin of Damnation. However, there will be both multiplayer and co-op, allowing players to take either genestealer or Terminator sides - Lunt hopes for up to four people playing at once. He also showed me the game's extremely simple but flexible Unity-based level editor which will ship with the game. Building a level will take minutes and Lunt hopes that community moderation will help the best maps and campaigns float to the surface.
It's worth noting that the game has been in development for just six months, but looks almost finished, save for a few details. The kill-cam - lifted unashamedly from XCOM - runs through walls too often. The multiplayer modes are yet to appear. Most obviously of all, the Terminator's walking animation is missing. Even so, Lunt is already thinking about DLC. Each piece will be a new campaign with a new chapter of properly-modelled Space Marines, with the release almost certainly decided by community voting. We're betting that the order will end up Dark Angels, Space Wolves then something else - though I'd personally kill to play as one of the pre-Horus Heresy legions, such as the Alpha Legion or Luna Wolves.
If it all works out for Full Control, Lunt already has an idea of what he wants to pitch next. "We want to make more games in the 40K universe - that's definitely what I want to do. Not pre-made games, new stuff... I'd love to do something like Battlefleet Gothic or Necromunda, but they'd have to work. Necromunda, for example, has a huge following, but when you think about it in a 3D way, how are you going to make it enjoyable to play? But I'm still hopeful."