Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate

a game by SSI
Platform: PC
Rating: 8/10


Returning from an [[Imperium]] mission, you discover a relic of power on a nearby planet. It is your duty to investigate this relic and bring it under the Imperium's control. Your supplies and personnel are somewhat drained from your previous missions, but a resourceful leader has what he needs to survive this conflict with Chaos Forces.

First off, I must admit that I have never once played Warhammer 40,000. However, I am a big fan of turn-based tactical games, which this is, so I find myself in a good position to judge whether this game can stand on its own merits.

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

Chaos Gate is basically played in three stages. First, you receive your orders and choose a mission. In this quick stage you learn what your next objective is and which optional missions you can accept on the way to the main, required mission. Optional missions are good things if you feel you can complete them with a minimum of losses, as you will replenish depleted resources and find powerful items. However, you can't get reinforcements so you have to care for each of your soldiers, bringing their experience up bit by bit until they can become powerful terminators.

Once you select a mission, you can outfit your crew. Each mission dictates how many of which kinds of unit you can bring. Assemble your squads carefully; make sure to pack people with enough experience to get the job done, but don't forget to bring a set of newbies along to help move them up the ladder as well. Each five-man squad can pack a certain ratio of large weapons, but it is fun to follow these guys through their careers. I rename them once they achieve veteran status, to help me identify who they are and what they do well.

Finally, you are on to do battle with Chaos Forces on the enemy planet. The layout is very X-Com-ish, but with much better graphics. The terrain is made up of a virtual 3D grid with layers that can be revealed with a touch of a button. The zoom feature is nice; it allows you to see the battlefield from three levels of zoom. It's fun to watch the battle up close, especially in a sword fight, but you need the larger area view to plan your moves.

Battle is fierce. If you do not work together, using your brains and smoke grenades to hold ideal terrain, you will lose or take significant losses. In this game, losing a lot of men is akin to losing the battle. Since you have only so many forces to choose from, you can hardly afford to lose any of them. It is not enough just to win; you must win decisively.


Graphics are okay. I mean for the genre, they're pretty good, but it's no Unreal. No one will ever remember this game for its good graphics, but they are good enough to advance gameplay. You can tell units apart and what is what, but that's about it.


One of the first things my wife and I noticed was the fun soundtrack on the CD. It's kind of a chanting monk thing and it's fun to listen to ... for a while. When I say soundtrack, I mean just one track. Over and over and over again.

Sound effects are adequate: explosions go boom, lasers go zoop, rockets go whoosh, and space marines yell threats at each other throughout combat.

System Requirements

Pentium 166 or higher, 32 MB RAM, 2MB SVGA card, Windows 95 with DirectX 6 or better and an 8x CD-ROM drive.


The documentation was good enough to get me started. It kind of assumes you know something about Warhammer 40,000, I think. Some things were left a little fuzzy. Like exactly how does one go about promoting one of his players to Terminator status? It's in there, but you have to dig.

The game comes with a Warhammer 40,000 comic. I suppose that it might be kind of cool for a Warhammer fan but I found the thing pretty confusing and predictable. Not one that will make its way into my personal comic collection.

Bottom Line

This game is pretty much like all the other turn-based tactical games since X-Com UFO Defense. It's fun, but it doesn't keep you coming back for more day after day. Playing against another person can be fun just for the strategic element, but again, not something compelling that you would play over and over again.

It's too bad that turn-based tactical games have never risen above X-Com. I love the genre, but long for the day to come when I can be proud of it. If you are a turn-based tactical game lover, get this game when it hits the bargain bin.

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