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Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II


12:0804/03/2009Posted by Martin GastonOne Comment

Making even the slightest change to a well-received gaming formula can provoke a scathing, eerily zealous hatred in the minds of those that fell in love with how things used to be. Relic must be quietly confident, then, as Dawn of War II has more in common with Company of Heroes than its own antecedent, making this sci-fi sequel a symbol in Relic’s unending attempt to pare down the RTS genre.

dow1Compared to other RTS heavyweights (and even the first game), Dawn of War II’s offerings are sparse. All you’ve got available is a tech-tree and a build button – and if you’re playing the single-player campaign you don’t even get that. In fact, there are so few units to control the UI has enough space to give every squad under your command their own button on the right-hand side of the screen.

But just because it’s not dense doesn’t mean it isn’t tactical, of course, and the impetus on micro-management allows you to get down into the real nitty-gritty of the action, fighting a war of attrition where units have to be treated as valuable treasures instead of throwaway commodities.

Levels in the single-player campaign start with a lull; the game rests momentarily on an almost frozen shot of the landscape. It’s an opportunity to bask in the game’s excellent graphics. Then a big, brash, metal drop pod collides into the ground and four squads of Blood Ravens bundle out. This is the meat and potatoes of the hefty structural change; as opposed to the army-from-scratch philosophy preached in the original, Dawn of War II has you marching around the cosmos with the same units. It’s like a big, intergalactic, superhuman, cybernetic version of the A-Team. Just without having to run from the law.

dow2You’re stuck with the Space Marines in single-player, putting holes in the Orkz, Eldar and Tyranids instead of controlling them. In-between missions you spend your time at the briefing screen, where an animated head will spit out some dialog and your squad will bicker back and forth. This is where you play dress-up with your space marines, decking them out with whatever spoils of war you’ve managed to plunder.

You groom your squad for the entire game, and the story is written so that their traits and personalities become part of the experience itself. It’s not a perplexing leap: Avitus’s brazen attitude is matched by his penchant for heavy weaponry; Tarkus’s level-headedness reflects his jack-of-all-trades abilities. And so on. At the core of the proceedings is the Force Commander, a rugged, chiselled badass with a gun in one hand and a chainsaw in the other.

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One Comment »

  • Darcy said:

    Great Review, Whenever I look for a review I look for the ones that give them a lower score, High scores are the ones where the games company pays the reviewer, to write an excellent article to get the advertising money for the game. Common sense really. There are obvious flaws with this game, Ridiculous amounts of health for instance which you mentioned, Insanely repetitive maps.. Ive played about 26 missions now and i’ve only played on about 4 or 5 different maps. It’s just kill enemies here, capture point, kill more enemies, capture point, fight boss, each squad dies at least twice ; Eldar tank boss was ridiculous. The Plot is interesting :- Tyranid swarm attacks an Imperium colony, and the space marines intervene. Would make a sweet movie IMO… But the lack of diversity with missions and locations makes this game repetative and abit boring after 25 -30 missions. Gameplay and mechanics are great, Flattening groups of Orks with the assault marines or luring Tyranid bug swarms into the field of fire of Avitus’s heavy bolters. But like the review said it doesn’t take long to figure out what you have to do, to pwn every living thing on the map. Upgrading aspect is good, fun unlocking new types of armours with special abilities and such, awesome power axes or high powered plasma pistols.
    All in all they did a good job with the general gameplay, although THQ should have paid alot more attention to the single player aspect of the game. Sometimes having an exciting story line will spark the fantasy and keep the game playable for months even years after purchase thus keeping the community alive, and building a fanbase at which point you can release sequels making money.

    Darcy -

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