Warhammer 40,000’s Imperium of Man does not do things by halves. When it needs a crack team of tomb raiders to investigate a derelict vessel, it sends in terminators. Dressed in huge suits of power armour—part high-tech defensive shell, part sarcophogus—these monstrous genetically-modified humans brandish guns that would crush an ordinary human. Given the tendency of space hulks to gain new passengers as they pass through the parallel hell-dimension known as the warp, these are sensible precautions. A warm engine room makes a lovely nest for the chitinous, clawed Tyranids.
It’s an interesting setting for a squad-based first-person shooter, and the game renders the twisting corridors of these haunted wrecks with rare devotion to the source material. Games Workshop’s Space Hulk was originally a turn-based tabletop game that simulated the Aliens fantasy in suitably exaggerated Warhammer 40K fashion, and for long-term fans of the fiction it’s exciting to see these sinister, anachronistic warrens realised in fine detail. Sometimes you’re fighting through hordes of aliens in a ship’s maintenance pipes, but you’ll just as easily find yourself melting Tyranid warriors at the foot of a huge statue of some long-dead Space Marine lord. Parts look like Alien’s Nostromo, but you’ll frequently find little macabre scenes. Floating skulls parade the corridors, and in one mission you disable a ship’s engine by destroying living human batteries, each wired into a pillar of machinery.