Originally released on PC it has been a year long wait for Spacehulk Deathwing to come to console and this would make my first time experiencing the Spacehulk universe first hand so I was not sure what to expect. In the year since its PC release, time been spent improving this PC shooter with various tweaks to gameplay making this Enhanced Edition a great first look at the franchise for me. I was not sure what to expect going in and as a FPS fan was very much intrigued by the universe I have seen over the years. It was time to strap on my insanely over sized battle suit and to see what this game had to offer.
Sadly it was not very long before alarm bells started to go off for me as the loading times just to get into the tutorial were rather foreboding of things to come. The tutorial itself does help in explain how things work especially in the movement and combat areas but the clumsy controls felt like more work needed to be done bringing the keyboard and mouse PC style over to controller just a little more. I need however feel the power of wearing the battle armour and the ability to hack doors and gun turrets felt pretty cool. Visually it does look great but compared with more recent shooters and it certainly feels behind in terms of quality which is then helped by the fact most areas in the game that you explore are pretty dark to help hide some of the visual issues like low texture quality at times.
The space armour you wear forces the style in which you play as well in that its so big and cumbersome that trying to play evasively in a fight is simply not an option so you are pretty much a bullet sponge throughout. You do constantly feel the weight of the suit as well as moving around is slow and sluggish which helps in making you feel super powerful once the fighting starts but if the level design has you needed to explore a long area that navigation becomes a real chore and a rather boring one at that. There is a real 50/50 appreciation of the armour which failed to appeal to me but that could just be down to being used to have more speed and freedom in my movement in FPS games.
The combat itself suffers from the same 50/50 issue in that at its heart, this is a squad game and to help you are two AI controlled squad members whose skills and abilities try to compliment your own. This comes in handy as enemies tend to attack in groups with gameplay that did remind me a lot of Left 4 Dead at times. The main issue is that the AI controlling your partner really kind of sucks at times. You can instruct or command them to open doors but otherwise for the most park they just clank behind you aimlessly until either a fight breaks out or you give them a task to do but they do come in handy when fighting because attempting to tackle the fighting solo is dangerous. If you can grab a couple of friends to join you instead then this game does take on a new level but playing on your own and relying on the AI partners is a pain at times.
This enhanced version just add a new mode in Special Missions which does add some variety and extra gameplay and you can see if you compare it with the original PC game what the developers have been focused on updating in the year before this release. The problem is that in that time other FPS titles have come out that just feel more fluid to play. Now I will admit that not knowing the universe has probably lessened the experience and I do not feel this game did or does enough to grab me fully into the lore enough. But if you do know the lore and universe then this game will offer far more over the gameplay and there is enough fan service in the language and missions to appeal to fans of the series. Sadly for me it just felt way too clumsy and clunky and never tried to pull me into the world well enough to make me want more of it.
Spacehulk Deathwing Enhanced Edition is really designed for fans of the series to jump in straight away and feel they are a part of that universe. Going in pretty much blind to it all didn’t help and this is definitely a game designed for and aims to be for fans. As a shooter it has too many negatives for me and it never really had a natural fit compared to other shooters but there is enough there if you like squad based shooters and can call on a couple of friends to join you.
It is evident that the devs put extra time in adding new things for this console release but some things have been overlooked that really needed to be focused on before this release such as loading times and partner AI and overall it ends up being an average experience that fails to do enough to welcome new players to it or the universe.