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Friday 21 August 2020

SPACE HULK: VENGEANCE OF THE BLOOD ANGELS


Game Workshop's Warhammer series of tabletop strategy games spawned a bunch of spin-offs and spin-offs of spin-offs. First launching in 1989, Space Hulk took the sprawling sci-fi setting of Warhammer 40K and shrunk it down to the small claustrophobic corridors of many a derelict spacecraft. These were known as Space Hulks, and that premise begat a rather successful videogame franchise, including this second entry from Electronic Arts; Space Hulk: Vengeance of the Blood Angels.

The Blood Angels are the oldest chapter of space marines, monastic mercenaries with a mission to stop the parasitic Genestealers taking over entire planets. Think of it as a contractually distinct version of Aliens and you're pretty damn close to the backstory. The Genestealers sure share more than a few similarities with the xenomorph.

The opening cutscene narrates a brief history of the Genestealers and the Terminator 
mech suits like the world's most foreboding Natural History programme.

Other than the hulking mechs known as Terminators (no relation to that other James Cameron property), the main difference here is that the aliens themselves are super easy to kill. At least one on one. The explode in only a few small hits of your basic weapon if one gets close enough for hand-to-hand combat, you can mash the attack button stab it. Despite this, Space Hulk is a notoriously difficult game, and the reason for this is the sheer number of enemies you may have to fight through. The likelihood of success in those close combat sections decreases after each successive encounter and if you fail, you'll be dead in one hit. If you're going to have any chance at surviving 'til the end, you'll need to use tactics.

To be fair, the game does ease you in with a false sense of security. To begin with, you play as a lowly grunt, unable to give orders so it plays more or less like a first-person shooter. Something of a poor one, to be honest, so don't go in expecting it to be more like Space Hulk: Deathwing from a few years ago. Your mech moves and turns slowly giving you little chance to shoot that approaching Genestealer before it reaches you, but at this early stage they're still a pushover.

Some of your objectives include burning areas (left) or finding artefacts (right)

When you get promoted to Commander, that's where the real fun begins. You can now give basic orders to the entire squad or even take direct control of them. Whether it be defending a spot on the map, picking up artefacts or burning down libraries, they'll perform your tasks to the best of their abilities. This change in direction comes thick and fast and makes for a very steep learning curve. You'll have to learn to lose direct control over some mission objectives and just let the others do it, otherwise, you could face death.

One of the early objectives given to you is to close off a few doors so that the pesky lifeforms cannot swarm through. Some of these orders are given to others, leaving you to focus on your singular objective without fear that the other doors will remain open. When you become commander, you have to give these orders and can easily let in an unwieldy number of alien spawn so you really have to think about it all.

You'll be looking at your map a lot, not just to get your bearings 
but also to review your objectives and issue orders to your squadmates.

You give orders via the map screen, which you have limited access to. A timer will count down while looking at it and only regenerate slowly when you've put it away. This forces an urgency to your decision making and to its credit, it succeeds at that goal without becoming overly annoying. While on this screen, you can give direct orders your team, see your objective markers, enemy spawn points and the location of all known marines, aliens and items. It's a useful device that you'll be referring to often.

Once you close the map, you'll take control of the last marine you selected. He'll even carry out any orders you may have given too, though can still cancel and override this by taking the reigns directly. This will solve some of the stupid AI they appear to be encumbered with. Vengeance of the Blood Angels was first released in 1995 for the 3DO so I can't be too harsh in this respect, but it will often become an issue. Any troubles they have in pathfinding or defence is best learned through trial and error and you'll be going through a lot of error before you understand their limitations even slightly.

Some of the tougher enemies in the game. Here we have a Magus (left) 
and a Chaos Space Marine (right).

Some terminators specialise in certain weapons. Some can carry assault weapons or flamers that give them extra attack types, but their ammo can decrease quickly if you're not careful - another undesirable feature of their limited intelligence. Some of these abilities are needed to complete a level, such as the aforementioned book burning, so you'll need to keep a close eye on them.

Once you're bored of the main campaign, there are a number of 'virtual training missions'. Here, classic levels from both the original game on PC and the tabletop game can be found, complete with updated visual and controls. It's a nice thing to have, more than doubling the number of playable levels, but I'm convinced a fair amount of them are impossible to complete.

The opening menu. The left door is the many 'virtual training missions' 
and the right is your campaign (left). Whatever you choose, you may succumb to cheating (right)

I never could complete the campaign, or get very far. For this review, I typed in 'ineedhelp' at the main menu and found myself with a number of cheat options, including invulnerability. Now, I'm not above cheating in games but more so than any other, I felt a tinge of guilt playing this way. Space Hulk thrives on its difficult tactical gameplay and turning this mode on removes that. You don't need tactics if you can't die and it quite frankly ruined the entire experience. It also left me at something of a conundrum, because I still couldn't get very far. Farther than I did back when I first played it on the PlayStation in 1996, but still not far in the grand scheme of things.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy my time with Space Hulk. I did. I'm just not very good at it. I certainly don't have the time and patience to play enough of it within the timeframe I gave myself to write this review. I'm sure the series has a large number of past and future fans that will revel in the challenge, and for that, I guess I should recommend it. If the thought of something insanely difficult puts you off, though, steer clear.


To download the game, follow the link below. This is a custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses dgVoodoo in conjunction with DxWnd to run on modern systems. Manual included. Run the Setup shortcut or HULKSET.EXE in the 'DxWnd/SHVOTBA' folder to change the game settings. Tested on Windows 10.
  27.09.2023 - Version 2 - Tweaked DxWnd game configuration to help with crashes.
                                  Improved installer.

File Size: 379 Mb.  Install Size: 536 Mb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ

Download

Watch the Video Review!




Space Hulk: Vengeance of the Blood Angels is © Electronic Arts
Warhammer, Warhammer 40K & Space Hulk are © Games Workshop
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me


Like this? Try These...

http://collectionchamber.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/alien-trilogy.html  http://collectionchamber.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/enemy-infestation.html  http://collectionchamber.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/planets-edge-point-of-no-return.html


36 comments:

  1. You have been blessed by the Emperor's light for releasing this game on the chamber.

    ReplyDelete
  2. For some reason, I can't seem to run it. I keep getting a dplay.dll error that keeps the game from loading.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe the dplay.dll is missing from your computer, so downloading it from here...

      https://www.dll-files.com/

      ...and placing the file into either your C:\Windows\System32\ or Space Hulk's game directory itself, for example, could really save the day for you. :-)

      Bye for now,
      Thomas

      Delete
    2. The dll is from an older version of Direct X, which I already have on my computer so don't tend to think about it. Thomas is correct in how it can be solved. I'll add the info to the FAQ when I have the time.

      Delete
    3. I actually got it working. The dplay.dll file was lurking in the Space Hulk folder under Dxwnd. I copied it to the main dxwnd folder and the game now works. So happy that I can finally play this game again. Many fond memories of it and the DoS/Amiga original

      Delete
    4. All's well that ends well. And another proof that many roads lead to Rome. :-)

      Bye for now,
      Thomas

      Delete
    5. hey, i just wanted to point this out, that for w11, go to C:\Games\Collection Chamber\Space Hulk - Vengeance of the Blood Angels\DxWnd , then go to the folder titled SHVOBTA, and copy the file named DPLAY.DLL (all caps), then press the go back button, then run the file named dxwnd. hope this helps for the more modern audience!

      Delete
  3. THx a loot :D:D:D

    ReplyDelete
  4. Can you do Sub Culture at some point in the future?

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  5. Oh man I loved this game! I use to have it on the 3DO!!

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  6. This game is the best of all Space Hulk versions!
    It's incredible that it works well under Win10!

    Man, you are very big.

    Thank you (Zsolt 45 years old Space Hulk fan)

    ReplyDelete
  7. 21 August is my birthday. Thank you so much for this!

    Greeting from Brazil

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is awesome. I've had the original CD since it came it in 1995, but it hasn't worked since Windows XP - over ten years now. In my opinion, the mission success music of the Windows version is much better than that for the consoles.

    I'd like to add a tip for anyone playing this on a 4K screen. My mouse cursor was limited to a small square in the upper left corner of the command screen. However, by setting my display resolution to 800x600, I got it to work.

    Kudos to Biffman!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! You can the following line to the top of the batch file (open "Run.bat" in notepad) to save you changing resolution each time

      set __COMPAT_LAYER=800x600

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    2. Works a treat. Much appreciated. :-)

      Delete
  9. Thank you! I also loved this game growing up!

    Question... The game works (that alone made me extremely happy) and I can move around the level with the keyboard, however when the tactical map is open, the mouse won't scroll past the left center - up and down - so I can't program my terminators using the mouse or keyboard. Did I miss something?

    Thanks for doing this - very happy like I said. :D

    JM-

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Never mind! Above resolution comment fixed it for me - sorry to bother.

      Thanks for doing this once again! :)

      Delete
  10. Game works, which is grand, but way too often just crashes to desktop. Is there a remedy for that?

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    Replies
    1. I mean it is borderland unplayable this way. Half way an intense mission the game just CTDs. Especially later in game this is totally unacceptable. Such a waste of opportunity :(((

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    2. Hello, here also the same problem. Game sometimes crashes to the desktop. Very stressing when you are in the near of the goal and got kicked back to desktop. Is there any solution or some hints in the settings to test? Again much appreciated for share!!

      Delete
    3. Arathieus of Sīn23 August 2022 at 09:35

      If you're referring to how the game crashes mid-mission, I was having this problem as well, and I found a fix. It involves opening DxWnd and launching the game from there each time. First launch DxWnd, then right-click the Space Hulk game icon and select Modify from the drop down menu. Next we need to enable some options in the Compatibility tab:

      Set Single Core Process Affinity
      Limit Available Resources
      Handle Exception
      Intercept Imagehlp.dll
      EA Sports hack
      Reserve legacy memory segments
      Safe MSVCRT allocs
      Fix GlobalUnlock

      (I don't know which of these options did the trick, as I was ticking and unticking boxes for hours trying to make the game work. Now it works so I haven't messed with it)

      After you've done all that, hit the "Try ..." button at the bottom of the screen. Occasionally the game won't load or will crash immediately, just alt-tab and press "Kill" or end process with Task Manager. Once the game does launch (i.e. once you see the intro FMVs playing) the game runs beautifully, no crashes at all.

      If that doesn't do the trick, I suggest you mess around with that Compatibility tab, maybe you'll get lucky like I did.

      Delete
    4. Big thanks for the fix list "Arathieus of Sīn", did the trick keeping it stable for me!

      Delete
    5. The game randomly throws the desktop

      This helped me:
      You start the game and enter right away ->
      task manager / details / SapceHulk/ right click / set affinity

      Allow only ONE core from the multi-core processor

      This prevents the program from stopping when the session processor is changed. Because it is so old that it does not know dual processor systems.

      eliminated the drops, both for win 10 and win 11 systems.

      Delete
  11. I get "Spacehulk VOTBA has not been fully installed because - File corrupt or unreadable DxWnd\SHVOTBA\HULKDATA\SOUND\MUSIC.FF"

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  12. Incroyable ça fonctionne bien sur windows 10. bon j'ai quand même eu un plantage et retour sur le bureau pendant une mission, mais en gros j'ai retrouvé l'ambiance du jeu et son stress !! en plus j'ai retrouvé mon manuel en français. Overwatch !!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I keep getting errors where "MUSIC.FF" is corrupted and the installer won't properly install the game. Can you please investigate this?

    ReplyDelete
  14. Seems like latest win update f*cked up something. Now I cannot run this at all, even though it was still working perfectly yesterday (with instructions from Arathieus, thanks brother!). "DirectPlay could not be loaded".

    I have DirectPlay enabled, but nothing seems to work. Anyone else encountered this kind of problem? How did you solve it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Never mind, solved the issue. Seems like the problem was with dpwsock.dll. Changed the name in system32 and Syswow64 -folders to dpwsock_.dll and the problem was gone.

      Delete
  15. Thanks Biffman and everyone else here for the help. But I've tried everything mentioned here and I still can't get it running. Still have the dpwsock.dll problem. The game ran fine back in 2020 when uploaded intitially. Now I have no luck at all with it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm getting the feeling a Windows Update broke it - same situation, was working for me until I let Windows updates run a week ago. If I paste dpwsock.dll into SysWow64 the error message goes away, but the game still fails to launch.

      Delete
    2. Getting the same issue here. Reinstalling doesn't help, most probably because there is another folder where the installer keeps game data (i.e. key assignment in input is custom instead of original). Maybe deleting that will help do a clean install that will not trigger the dpwsock.dll issue.

      Delete
    3. Adding to previous reply.

      Overly-optimistic of me to assume that will help.

      FYI, the game ran fine as late as the day before (2023-05-15).

      Delete
    4. Strange, game runs fine here! (Just did a fresh install on Winows 10 Enterprise 21H2)
      It does warn about the "dpwsock.dll" issue once but after that the game still runs fine.

      I tried installing it again on Windows Sandbox, now it fails to launch until I copy "dplay.dll" to the DxWnd folder. Are you guys using Windows 11 by chance?

      Delete
  16. This is beauty version from this game


    The game randomly throws the desktop

    This helped me:
    You start the game and enter right away ->
    task manager / details / SapceHulk/ right click / set affinity

    Allow only ONE core from the multi-core processor

    This prevents the program from stopping when the session processor is changed. Because it is so old that it does not know dual processor systems.

    eliminated the drops, both for win 10 and win 11 systems.

    ReplyDelete