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Turning a huge tabletop miniatures game into a mega-massive is an immense task, especially when the tabletop game is one of Games Workshop's Flagship games. GW's exuberant tabletop games are based on beautifully detailed miniatures, basic rules, Racial differences - almost everyone fights the Orks - and fast, deadly combat. You would have thought that all of that would be easy to reproduce and replicate given the power of today's home entertainment systems and computers.

BATTLEFLEET GOTHIC ARMADA, the computer version, is a real time strategy game available using the Steam media, and it is nothing if not spectacular; the pictures on this page are screenshots from my PC not stock pictures found on the internet.

The ships are mahoosive juggernauts, behemoths of space; even the first one you get to command would be considered the bees-knees in most other space combat games, and they glide across the colourful landscapes of the universe like heavily armoured majestic swans. Each ship has a set or sets of upgrade slots into which you can place weapon and equipment units, allowing you to customise them, possibly bringing them to equal the metal (later plastic) miniatures you are used to from the tabletop. Onscreen the Games Workshop models are brought to life right down to the minutest detail, as are the Imperial Troops, the Eldar and Orks and the general grunt units.

Your choice of playing ranges from Easy (which it isn't) through to Heroic (mad) via Normal and Hard with a final option to play each game in Iron Man style, something Magic the Gathering players used to do, tearing and burning their decks if they lost. There's no way I'm going to set fire to my PC because I got a ship blown up. Speaking of ships exploding - they do so in amazing balls of fire in this game - when lose a ship in battle it can spell disaster for your mission. 

Although the ships move freely and sweetly the game itself sort of clunks along in chunks. There are exciting combats in which you are expected to be masterful in your decisions of movement and muscle, but there are also a fair amount of very slow periods where you are rallying or planning and micro-managing every single situation, basically you are simply doing what needs to be done. Nothing wrong in that, it's quite realistic, but realism doesn't have much of a place in high fantasy, at least not for me.Other times you can almost sit back and watch as your ships go into battle under your orders as if they are toys that you have wound up and let go, though they are more likely to follow the specified orders you have given them than they are to try and hump the washing basket like our grandkid's wind-up toy poodle did recently.

If you decide to find an opponent and play a skirmish game then you get to choose your race. This gives you the only opportunity to see inside the battleships of the opponents that in campaign games, where you can only be in command of the Imperium Imperial Fleet, you do not get to see. Playing the Orks in a skirmish game is a talent in itself, for if you are not performing well and the battle is going against you it is quite possible that the mutinous Orks will indeed mutiny, leaving you twiddling your thumbs as your world and your ships come tumbling down around you.

In the Campaign game there is a basic storyline that is as easily forgotten as it is ongoing through the world of WARHAMMER 40K that is broken down into missions and quests which can be remarkably simple, hard and enjoyable, extremely difficult to the point of frustration or almost downright impossible, especially when a time limit is imposed on your success.

Visually this is stunningly breathtaking. It's like watching a billion dollar movie's special effect unfolding in front of you. The 3D rendering style detail, the colours, the ham voice acting all make the game come alive on your monitor screen - wish I still had my 28" BenQ monitor instead of this 20" widescreen - but it doesn't have the interaction or exhilaration of facing your enemy (usually a best friend, family member or mate down the games club) across the table, looking into their eyes, and shouting "Take That", referring of course to the damage you have just caused to his fleet rather than the multi-millionaire Boy band.

If you are a Warhammer 40K fan who loves to play games on the computer then this is a dream come true for you. 








© Chris Baylis 2011-2021