Warham­mer 40,000: Gla­dius – Relics of War

The least diplo­matic 4X we’ve ever played

Maximum PC - - IN THE LAB -

THE WARHAM­MER 40,000 UNI­VERSE seems like a good fit for a 4X game. There’s lots of trav­el­ing across dan­ger­ous dis­tances in enor­mous ships, plenty of de­ploy­ing troops, loads of diplo­macy.... Ac­tu­ally, there’s no diplo­macy. 40K is all about the war, and fill­ing the alien men­ace full of holes, so the four Xs in this game are ex­plore, ex­pand, ex­ter­mi­nate, and ex­ter­mi­nate some more.

The planet on which our four fac­tions (Space Marines, Im­pe­rial Guard, Orks, and Ne­crons) find them­selves is a hos­tile place, di­vided into hexag­o­nal parcels of land. Dan­ger­ous crea­tures roam the land­scape, which has dan­ger­ous plants, Ne­cron tombs, and the ar­ti­facts of pre­vi­ous col­o­niza­tion at­tempts scat­tered about. Ev­ery­thing is out to kill you, so you hit back in the only way the set­ting knows: massed ranks and laser fire.

That set­ting is key to the game. It dic­tates the units, their roles, their weapons, and how much you’ll like it. If you’re a fan, you’ll lap it up, even when it di­verges from the let­ter of 40K lore. The four playable races are nicely dif­fer­en­ti­ated, with two (Im­pe­rial Guard and Orks) be­ing a source of massed, cheap units, while the oth­ers send out fewer, more ex­pen­sive, but more in­di­vid­u­ally dan­ger­ous, squads. Neatly, the two “su­pe­rior” sides hit a re­source limit that can see them swamped by their more nu­mer­ous foes. It’s a shame not to see Tyranids or El­dar, but we guess you have to save some­thing for a se­quel or DLC.

Each fac­tion gets a sto­ry­line, played out as a se­ries of mis­sions. Wipe out every en­emy base, and you win, so see­ing a plot thread to its very end can mean keep­ing a ves­ti­gial nui­sance fac­tion alive for as long as it takes to com­plete the fi­nal mis­sion. The AI prefers to de­fend than make se­ri­ous at­tacks on your base, so it’s pos­si­ble to do this. The bases are your pro­duc­tion cen­ters for not just units but cer­tain re­sources, too.

Gla­dius cap­tures much of the strat­egy of the table­top game, but lit­tle of its ex­cite­ment. Units, even those equipped with jet­packs, re­act stiffly, reshuf­fling every time they lose a mem­ber, and some­how re­gen­er­at­ing losses when set to heal. There’s lit­tle sense of im­pact from heavy weapons fire, while the Im­pe­rial Guard’s laser ri­fles seem so in­ef­fec­tual, it’s a mar­vel they kill as much as they do. The Guard makes up for it with a fun ar­ray of tanks, but the down­side of field­ing a large army is that the con­stantly re­peat­ing sound­bites be­gin to grate.

It’s a novel use of the 40K li­cense, but for a 4X game to dump one of its tropes so com­pletely means the fa­vored strat­egy— in this case com­bat—must be very good in­deed. With its un­sat­is­fy­ing AI and limp gun­fire, the thrill of watch­ing the table­top game in mo­tion is short-lived. Warham­mer 40,000: Gla­dius – Relics of War

EM­PEROR Nice shake-up of the 4X; tank rushes for days; the thrill of com­mand­ing Space Marines.

HORUS Drab looks; stale AI; so much grim dark­ness it be­gins to get you down.

REC­OM­MENDED SPECS i5 or equiv­a­lent; 8GB RAM; GTX 660 3GB/R9 270X 4GB.

$40, www.slith­er­ine.com, ESRB: T

There's no at­tempt to hide the hexes the maps are built on.

The planet is in­festedwith nu­mer­ous deadly or­gan­isms.

Im­pe­rial Guard armies have many walk­ers and mis­sile launch­ers.

Claim­ing a hex that con­tains a relic grantsyour fac­tion bonuses.

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