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iPad Game Review: Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolf Review
      #47428 - 12/16/14 04:13 PM

It's a freemium, squad-level, turn-based tactical strategy game with cards; with an emphasis on the freemium. Space Wolf is an original iOS game based on the Warhammer 40,000 Space Wolf franchise. Unlike the previously released (and excellent) iOS Warhammer game (Warhammer Quest), this one is freemium; and it suffers for it.



Gameplay

Space Wolf is a campaign/mission based single player game, although it requires an otherwise unnecessary always-on internet connection to play. Gameplay consists of outfitting, deploying, and maneuvering your squad of marines on a grid-based game board. Each character gets a turn, and what you do is determined by the cards you've drawn. Each card has a primary purpose, but can also be used for movement. Whether you're moving, using an item (like a weapon), or simply turning to face a different direction, you will expend effort; which is finite. The character with the most unused effort at the end of the round will move first on the next round. Plan well, and you can get the jump on the enemy. Use up all your effort every turn, and you will move last every time. So far so good, right? Well, there are some odd and irritating design decisions that make Space Wolf feel less tactical and more about having the best hand. First, there is no cover for your troops. Objects and terrain features are only there to restrict movement as hiding behind something will get you killed as easily as standing in the open. Second, while it is possible to safely shoot through your squadmates, it is not possible to move through them. Third, the game doesn't offer any sort of shading to let you know weapon range, which will often result in you miscounting as you try to move within range, but not any closer. The result is an almost irresistible urge to make a mad rush across the map to reach your objective before you get massacred. These are relatively small complaints, however, compared to the game's pay model. Because I spent approximately $15 on Warhammer Quest for various IAPs, I figured I'd throw some money at Space Wolf. After all, I'm not looking for a free gaming experience; just a reasonable one. $15 got me 10,000 credits, which will buy either 10 booster packs (3-cards each), 10-ish runes, or some combination of the two. Runes, by the way, are used to increase your chance to successfully forge new cards or allow you to revive your hero during a mission. This last part, of course, explains the reason for the persistent Internet connection as they clearly don't want you to simply reload a saved game and try again. Credits are also required to level your hero, by the way, and buy decks of cards. While credits are awarded during gameplay, they are doled out at an absurdly low rate resulting in it being necessary to repeat or grind missions for the required credits to advance. Obviously, my $15 didn't get me very far, and I found myself resoundingly stuck in the second chapter.



A great game designer once said that freemium is the art of making a game "not fun," but giving the gamer the chance to continually pay to make it fun. Truer words were never spoken, at least in regards to Space Wolf, which would be an absolute blast to play if I didn't have to keep stopping to pay the meter.

Graphics

Pushing a 1GB installed size, the graphics of Space Wolf are as good as you'd expect. Great lighting effects, a decent camera system, and nicely rendered characters/objects makes Space Wolf quite easy on the eyes.

Sound

The music and effects, which certainly serviceable, didn't stand out in any way from the crowd.

In-App Purchases (IAPs)

Credits are required to do everything in Space Wolf, from buying booster packs, to buying runes, to leveling your hero. Space Wolf is a game designed for people with no money and lots of time, or lots of money. If you're looking for a game to buy outright for a reasonable price, Space Wolf is not for you.



Conclusion

Space Wolf is an enjoyable turn-based strategy game that has been hobbled by a punitively freemium business model. If you're a free-to-play enthusiast and have lots of time to put into repetitive gameplay, there's real value here. Compulsive gamers, however, should stay away as the urge to spend real money almost continuously will be close to overwhelming.

Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics: - 4 - It's a good looking game.
Sound: - 3 - Decent, but nothing to write home about.
Controls: - 3 - The shortcomings listed in the gameplay portion of this review detract noticeably from Space Wolf's enjoyment.
Gameplay: - 2 - Not just pay to win; Pay to play.

Playing Hints and Tips:

Take the time to count squares before you move. If you don't, you'll likely be at the mercy of an AI with perfect counting skills. Watch out for choke points as squad members cannot be moved through. Resist the urge to spend money on booster packs until you know how much unit upgrades and game decks are going to cost you.



App Facts:

Developer: HC Global
Release Date: November 11, 2014
Price: Free with IAPs
Buy App: Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolf

Reviewed by Tom Slayton








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