Version Reviewed: 1.0.4
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
The Warhammer 40,000 universe was born as a futuristic companion to the tabletop strategy war game series. In this universe gigantic, space marines in power armor face off against foes like the advanced Eldar, primal-but-brutal Tyranids, and other corrupted space marines known as Chaos Space Marines. In Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolf, players take control of a faction of marines fighting the forces of chaos in the form of a card-based, free-to-play strategy game. Although this isn't a huge departure from the source material, lots of things that make the Warhammer properties so appealing is lost in translation here.
To play Space Wolf, players take control of small groups of space marines and take turns as they move, shoot, and melee their way across a map using cards - not too unlike the underrated Metal Gear Acid. Every map has its own set of objectives, some of which are optional but all of which usually involve killing Chaos Space Marines along the way. The card collecting aspect is the only thing keeping Space Wolf from feeling like a straightforward translation of a Warhammer 40,000 game. If this were truly the case though, Space Wolf would be pretty amazing. Unfortunately, it's plagued by multiple problems, some of which have to do with the free-to-play structure but many of which don't.
As a game that doesn't cost any money upfront, Space Wolf entices players into spending money for cards, upgrades, and other features that are directly proportional to how powerful they are while playing. This is problematic, because this approach to free-to-play makes the game feel like it is pay-to-win, although to be fair the pay structure is not completely egregious. Players get login bonuses and have other ways to earn in-game currency to spend on these upgrades, though this significantly slows down their progression.
Much worse than the game's payment structures is the clunkyness of Space Wolf's gameplay. Although much of the game appears to be pretty standard turn-based strategy fare, things like the way players are facing can only be changed by using up an action and card. Furthermore, the field of view for characters and weapons is so tight that wasting actions on movement to adjust happens a lot. This, paired with the inability to undo any actions once performed (and the relative lack of healing or other recuperative items), can make any false move feel overly punishing.
In the end, Space Wolf has a number of things wrong with it that make it pretty disappointing. The combination of having to grind out cards, currency, and upgrades, as well as the overall inelegance makes playing through levels feel like an unnecessarily slow burn. While fans of Warhammer 40,000 may enjoy watching the nicely animated space marines as they eviscerate each other, the overall gameplay doesn't really live up to its potential.