Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate
Windows - 1998
Description of Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate
Against the forces of chaos......
Converting established tabletop wargames to the PC isn't always a successful process. The problem is that all too often the developers forget that they're producing a PC game and just convert the tabletop game, thereby ignoring the advantages that using a PC can give. Not to mention the fact that some things which are great fun on for tabletop wargamers (the suspense of dice rolling, for example), would bore the pants off the average PC gamer.
So here we have Warhammer 40,000 Chaos Gate. A conversion of Games Workshop's popular miniatures battle game to the PC. Now part of the popularity of the Games Workshop games is that they give players a chance to channel their creativity. You paint and convert the miniatures and scenery, you customise your forces by spending hours reading army lists, you collect the latest models, design your own scenarios, and spend ages talking to your friends about it. This isn't really something that you can convert accurately to a PC game. Instantly you've lost something that makes the tabletop games so memorable. So how do you compensate for this?
Well the answer is you don't. Because what makes tabletop games good doesn't translate to PC. So instead you focus on one particular aspect of the game and alter the emphasis slightly. With Warhammer 40,000 : Chaos Gate (WH40K), the game is focused on the most popular of WH40K armies, the Space Marines. The game is based around a campaign by the Ultramarines against the chaos forces of lord Zymran. Unlike the previous outing to the WH40K universe, Final Liberation, we focus here mainly on squad level tactics. This is good, because one of the major problems with Final Liberation was that there were too many units and controlling them could be a bit fiddly. By choosing to make this a squad-level game those problems are removed. It's a great deal easier to keep track of your troops.
In the grim future of the 41st Millennia, there is only war.
The first thing you notice about Chaos Gate is the interface. It's nicely done out in the typically Gothic Games Workshop style. My only complaint might be that it's not instantly obvious what some of the icons mean. A quick flick through the manual solves that problem, and off you go. The game engine is essentially the Soldiers at War engine with Games Workshop style graphics over the top. The main menus are set up as if you are on the bridge of the marine command ship, with nice doors that open to lead you into the game, an effect which adds to the atmosphere.
The game itself is not a direct conversion of the original. Rather than having turns split into phases (movement, shooting, combat etc) individual marines have action points, and the various actions they can carry out in a turn cost APs. Now WH40K fanatics may dislike this, but I've always been in favour of AP based games, because they give individual troops a nice degree of flexibility. It has the added advantage that you can go back to a marine, and continue his actions later, if he has sufficient APs left.
Moving your marines around the map is a simple case of highlighting them and then pointing where you want them to go. You can also use a drag box to highlight more than one marine at once, though there seems to be a slight graphic glitch with the box, which occasionally becomes broken. Firing is a case of moving the mouse pointer over an enemy and clicking. There are three types of fire: normal, aimed and direct. Aimed takes double action points, but is more likely to hit. Direct fire is used to target scenery rather than enemies. Marines can also be set to overwatch, allowing them to snap-fire at enemies during the opposing force's turn. This is an important part of the way the game works and using up all your APs so you can't put up overwatch could cost you many squad members' lives.
Other orders available to your marines include retrieving objects, opening doors, throwing switches, kneeling down (useful to hide behind cover) and several specialised options. These are for specialist types of marines like Psykers (who can use PSI powers), Apothecaries (who can heal), Tech Marines (who can manipulate computers) and Assault Marines (who have jump packs). Psi power can be incredibly powerful, but it's not until your Psyker has been through a few missions that he's powerful enough to make good use of them. Powers available include basic attacks like assail and Hellfire, useful powers like teleporting the Psyker or friendly squads, destroying daemons or protecting the Psyker. There are some 22 in all, making for quite a lot of choice when you can only have a maximum four per Psyker.
There are a variety of nice shortcuts built into the interface to make combat easier. There is a bar to the bottom left of the screen which tells you whether your marine can see any enemies, and a quick click on the icon will centre on that enemy. You can also scroll through them with the next enemy button. When you've finished with a marine, simply click on the next marine button, easy.
The Emperor orders you to die!
There is a vast amount of equipment available to your troops, and deciding on which option to go for takes up an important part of the pre-mission work. Weapons available include Bolters, Plasma guns, Lascannons, Multi-meltas and Missile launchers. There are also master-crafted versions of some weapons available which are of slightly better quality than the basic versions. You can also choose to equip med kits, scanners and a variety of grenades. These can be really useful. Anti-Plant grenades, for example, remove vegetation and therefore your enemies' cover, and being hit by an offensive grenade takes you out of overwatch. Not all equipment is available on each mission of the campaign, though all are available if you choose to play a one-off scenario. There are limited numbers of the more powerful pieces of equipment even so. On the equipment setup screen you can see how much damage, what range and what armour penetration each weapon has, for comparative purposes.
Deciding on which squads you use is also important, you have a total of eight available (though limits appear on how many can be used in a mission). These include tactical squads (basic marine squad), Devastator squads (Heavy weapon squads), assault squads (close combat specialists) and one set of terminator armoured troops (elite troops in particularly hard power armour with heavier firepower). One squad type who were notably missing here, but which do appear in the original game, are scouts, thus stopping you using infiltrators, something which would have been nice. As well as squads you have a variety of personalities to choose from, each has different stats and you don't get as many weapon choices either.
Vehicles don't start to appear until later levels, and alter the balance of play quite a bit. This is mainly by making heavy weapons choices more difficult, do you go for something to mow down infantry or a tank killer? Vehicles tend to be armed with lots of very powerful weapons, have lots of armour and have a huge amount of APs, so proper use of them can be devastating. You have access to Rhinos (APCs), Predators (assault Tanks), Landspeeders (fast skimmers) and Dreadnoughts (large mobile armour suits).
One thing that takes a great deal of getting used to is the way that the terrain is divided into layers. These layers can be peeled away to reveal lower levels, especially useful if you're in a building, so you can see in through the roof. Now getting the hang of navigating around these layers is a bit tricky, a number of times I found myself sending marines off in the wrong direction because I'd clicked on the wrong level. You can set the terrain to automatically peel away to the level of the current active marine, which is useful in buildings or dense undergrowth. A handy feature is pressing 'A', which forces the cursor 'up' a level, allowing you to focus on what you want.
Morale is similar to the original game, if you lose too many squad members you're likely to rout. The same is true if you come under fire from a flame thrower or if you decide to charge something demonic. Some troops rout more readily than others, chaos cultists seem to do it all the time, whereas marines are sturdier.
The campaign mode is the main focus of play. As you progress through the campaign, equipment runs low, marines die and can't be replaced, your troops become more adept. At each subsection you can choose to attempt your final goal first, or engage in minor missions beforehand to gain experience. Experience is really useful, as it grants extra APs and better chances to hit. But you have to beware of losing important squads or marines on these minor missions, you won't get them back. Admittedly aside from the minor missions the campaign is a bit linear. But it nicely conveys the nature of the WH40K universe. The set missions have a nice variety to them, but the randomly generated ones can become a bit samey. There are fifteen set missions in all, which might not be enough for some players.
The game is really very nice to look at, which you should expect for anything that Games Workshop had a hand in. The space marines themselves are nicely detailed and animated. Their enemies, especially the daemons, look very nice too. It's a shame you can't customise the colour schemes. There are three zoom levels, allowing you to see more or less of the battlefield. The cut scenes are reasonably good too, and advance the story nicely.
Audio is of similar quality, with an atmospheric soundtrack that really suits the ethos of the Space Marines. It's like a dark monastic chant, with rousing military undertones. All the characters have their requisite soundbytes, and (for a change) there is actually quite a range of these. They range from the sarcastic to the far too cheesy, but are generally suitable. All the weapons have suitable explosions and sounds too. Most weapons just kill your enemies and leave corpses, though some will disintegrate them.
How vicious the AI is depends on difficulty setting (of which there are four). Generally it's reasonable, enemy marines tend to stay in buildings and behind cover, and focus on your heavy weapons, vehicles and Psykers etc. Though they tend to be susceptible to dropping assault marines behind them using jump packs. Their use of grenades is however very effective, and acts as a warning that staying close together is not a good idea.
The game has a variety of options that can be customised to speed up or generally alter gameplay. Animations can be turned off for slower systems for example. Those annoying soundbytes can be removed too, if you like. It's nice to be able to customise the game to your own tastes.
The enemy are upon us!
Multi-player is available, both with IPX and TCP/IP. The game allows only two players, but manages to run at quite a speed. You can play on any of the single player maps, or on one designed yourself, or a randomly generated one. Be careful when choosing though, as some maps are not best suited to multi-player (on one we tried there was a locked gate which neither of us could figure out how to open). You have a number of options, as to which forces will be available to each player, as well as the ability to disable special characters. As with all "igo-ugo" multi-player turn-based games, it can be a bit slow waiting for the other player to complete their turn (enough time to go and make a cup of tea). However overwatch fire means that if you set up your forces correctly you'll have something to watch during the other player's turn. It was also notable that the animations were turned up to full speed, and there were fewer soundbytes, obviously done for speed of play, and you could only use one marine at once. Another nice thing about the multi-player is that it allows you to play with the chaos marine's weapons, including demons and combi-weapons (two modes of fire).
The game comes with its own scenario builder which lets you create custom scenarios to play yourself or in multi-player. It allows you to set the density of hills, level of difficulty, height of landscape, map size, decide on the scenario type etc. It then automatically creates the battle map for you. Once this is done you can edit it by adding or removing troops, adding event triggers and generally tweaking which forces are available to either side. Scenarios created in this way can be played in single or multiplayer modes. Generally, it's a good, user-friendly tool and makes custom scenarios easy to create.
I didn't experience too many problems with the game, though it did occasionally slow down on harder levels and it did crash once or twice, including once when it froze in the computer player's turn and the machine had to be reset. It was also occasionally slow when quitting the game.
Overall Warhammer 40,000 : Chaos Gate is a good game and it does what it sets out to do, translate the 40K universe to the PC. It also avoids making it too similar to the original, which would have been pointless (why play it on computer, when you could get your friends round and have a laugh playing the tabletop version?). It offers just about enough tactical challenge, though the random missions can get a bit similar. More variety in the available forces would have been nice, Imperial guard (more generic grunts) or Eldar (weird elfy aliens) allies for example. If you prefer hardcore sci-fi, you might not like the Warhammer universe's Gothic fantasy aspect. But if you are a fan, it's worth picking up, as long as you can live with the changes made to the rules. The gameplay may not be particularly revolutionary, but it's damn good fun.
Review By GamesDomain
Captures and Snapshots
Comments and reviews
dani 2017-12-07 1 point
i don't know why the Launch scenario builder works and the game doesn't :(
admin 2017-01-12 -1 point
Image works with Daemon Tools. Don't whine, just buy it on GoG instead.
Ghost 2016-04-11 0 point
Take this link off. It Gives u an IMG file, which u cant open, NOR burn onto a CD. Basically Just a useless file that takes up 700 mb.
Anubis 2015-09-29 3 points
Before this disappears from the web
*** SOLUTION TO THE CULTIST BUG ***
After examining the WeapDef.dat file under the Data folder I've found out how to solve the infamous cultist bug.
YOU NEED TO START A NEW GAME FOR THE CHANGES TO TAKE EFFECT
(or it may be enough to save again, but I haven't tested)
1. Open WeapDef.dat in the Data folder under the Chaos Gate folder.
2. Find the section containing the Laspistol.
3. Change "PlazPistHit.wav" to "PlazpistHit.wav" (note the lower case 'p').
5. Start a new game.
Enjoy your cultists without CTD.
OldschoolGamer 2015-01-28 4 points Windows version
I remember playing this game around the year 2000, when it came out for free on a computergaming magazine CD. I never cared about the campaign but I loved the skirmish maker.
It is also easy to play on Windows 7. Download this version, burn the image on a CD, install it, install the patch and after that set the compatibility mode on the .exe file on Windows 98. It worked at least for me.
But what I do really hate about this game is that you can ONLY play the Ultramarines. I would have loved to play Chaos as well, especially because they all got these cool demons and other creatures on the battlefield. They made exactly the same mistake in Dawn of War so many years later, with the excuse to keep the good vs. evil theme. This is unfortunately also the reason why I stopped playing Chaos Gate.
TheGamer 2015-01-08 -1 point Windows version
My Abandonware,I would appreciate it if you double(If possible triple) Compressed this,So that we People we slow Internets,Can Download it.
THE ULTIMATE DOS AND WINDOWS GAMER!!!!
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