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Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War 2
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War 2

PC
Genre: Strategy
Developer: Relic Entertainment Official Site: http://www.dawnofwar2.com
Publisher: THQ
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War 2

Genre: Strategy
Developer: Relic Entertainm...
Official Site: http://www.dawnofwar2...
Publisher: THQ
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Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War 2 Review
Review By @ 12:20pm 23/02/09
PC
The original Dawn of War was a great game. It shifted the traditional RTS focus from simple base and army building to tighter squad-based mechanics and implemented a resource system where capturing and holding supply lines meant keeping your armies on the front lines. It also took an already nerdy genre, the RTS, and made it even nerdier with the addition of the Warhammer 40,000 license - and along with it Space Marines, Space Orks, and other quasi-medieval races thrown into, err, space. Ridiculous setting aside, Dawn of War was action-packed, brutal and fun and, surprisingly, also featured an engaging story.

Developer Relic's follow-up, Company of Heroes, which saw similar gameplay (this time set during 'that war with the Nazis') added an increasingly detailed 3D engine that allowed realistic physics, line-of-sight, and a cover system bringing a new level of immersion to the gameplay first displayed in Dawn of War. Two classic entries into what's generally seen by most as a 'stale' genre - making Relic's recent output in this regard, two for two. So it's safe to say anticipation was running high for Dawn of War II, and to be completely honest "Company of Heroes 2: Warhammer 40,000 Edition 2" would have been enough to warrant a look. Catchy title aside, despite Dawn of War II bringing back the intense squad-based gameplay of the original, it scales this back to an almost minimal degree and implements a style of play that, well, is as much RPG as it is RTS.



First thing you'll notice right off the bat can be summarised into two words - no bases. Dawn of War II has no command posts, gas refineries, barracks, or Greater Summoning Cores to build. Instead throughout the course of the single-player campaign players will at any one time only control four squads; each with their own hero/leader and abilities. What does this mean for the game? Well, with the addition of RPG mechanics, that being the ability to level up each leader's stats, armour, weapons, and accessories, the end result proves to be an intoxicating blend that is virtually impossible to resist.

When it comes to measuring the greatness of an RPG or RTS, addictiveness is arguably one of the most important aspects of doing so.

Another word for this that most people tend to use is 'reward system' which if broken down points straight to 'addiction'. Rewards in an RPG or RTS are simply incentives to keep playing, and the phrases "one more level" or "one more map" are strikingly similar to "one more hit". This is not a criticism of either genre, human's are after all creatures of habit - if a game of this type can strike a certain level of addictiveness, everything else falls into place - graphics, control, gameplay, et al.

That said this rule of thumb if applied to Dawn of War II results in the following three realisations:
    1. The RPG style stat building and item looting is addictive
    2. The strategy gameplay using stealth, demolitions, cover, and straight up assault tactics is addictive
    3. Combining number 1 and 2 results in a pretty awesome level of addictiveness
If you can look past the dissimilarities to the first game (because after all, strategy purists love their base building) you'll find much to love here. The campaign sees players controlling a commander (ie you) and three other squads of Space Marines investigating recent attacks by the Ork and Eldar races on human-controlled worlds. As the engrossing story evolves, players are introduced to a new hive-like race called the Tyranids (which if you've ever played StarCraft, are basically Warhammer's Zerg race) who slowly try to infest and assimilate each planet they come across. Given the option to select which mission to tackle via a world map, players eventually have the option of moving between three distinct planets with each deployment (ie 'mission') taking one galactic day to complete.

This over-world view lets players tackle most key missions in the order they see fit and it also allows for numerous side missions and events (some time-based) to take place, adding a dynamic feel to the world/s. It's all very Risk-like, and instead of simple linear mission progression, the deployment system adds a layer of strategy that definitely adds to the feeling that Dawn of War II is equally fresh and dynamic. For example, during an early distress response mission on Day six you may choose to capture a Comms Tower because of its strategic benefits. However, on Day 14 the same Comms Tower has come under attack by Orks and you find yourself on another planet dealing with a pressing mission that may change the tide of war with the Tyranids. From here you can choose to go defend the Comms Tower or continue with your current mission. Dawn of War II scores your campaign progression based on your conquests both military and strategic. Each individual mission is also graded on various criteria allowing for bonuses as well as the chance to deploy your troops more than once in a single day. Funnily enough even with this additional complexity in addition to the multitude of stats, levelling up and experience point gathering the game is kept pretty simple and never devolves into an overload of stats.

In fact, this is probably the first strategy game with an intuitive tutorial, one that's built into the early missions of the game and entirely optional - simply click on the explanation or not.

The tutorial entries are part of the in-game encyclopaedia, where each maneuver, item and skill is intuitively detailed easing players into the world. Even the awesome Company of Heroes had specific tutorial missions where players were "taught" how to select units, pan the camera, and make them attack. It's great to see Relic taking the effort to make each part of the game feel, well, "just right".

Now, if the actual gameplay itself were akin to other action RPGs with similar stat building and looting, we'd be in trouble. It's here where the action-packed gameplay takes a natural progression from the style seen in the first Dawn of War and Company of Heroes. With realistic physics, a destructible environment and line of sight accuracy between your units and enemies, strategy plays a large part in how you tackle each mission. Using the environment plays a key part in your strategy, as well as your squads' abilities. Keeping your main heavy gunner units in cover, using scouts to map surrounding areas, grenadiers to clear out buildings, assault units to jump into and confuse enemy infantry, and having your main commander use his melee skills to send large enemies flying, are all potential strategies. Allowing players to have control of their squads and their make-up will allow them to essentially play the game as they see fit. Unfortunately, the strategies you choose can be used verbatim on almost every mission, where objectives rarely differ from 'destroy this guy' or 'blow up that thing', leaving experimentation in play and attack styles up to the player. Do you mix it up or keep doing what works?

But the criticism is a minor one, as the gameplay in an action-RPG has never looked or played so good. With realistic physics and a destructible environment comes a heavy tax on the old video-card but if yours is up to it you're in for a visual treat as Relic's Essence Engine once again proves that it's one the best when it comes to large scale particle and environment effects. Those expecting a traditional RTS game (well similar to Company of Heroes, anyway) can breathe a sigh of relief, as the game is far from a mindless Diablo-clone; it's truly an enjoyable and fresh experience. The blend of strategy, RPG, and mission deployment works well, making this equally the most enjoyable and unusual strategy experience in a while.

It's unusual as opposed to disappointing simply because of the pedigree - this comes from the developer of the original Dawn of War and Company of Heroes, both of which had fantastic multiplayer components. Their action based gameplay whilst retaining a focus on 'armies' kept things suitably intense, and with Dawn of War II, without bases and armies you'll ask yourself 'where does this leave the multiplayer?' Well surprisingly robust, whilst remaining both similar and different to the single-player campaign. There's still no base building; instead each player chooses from one of the four races, their leader/hero, and begins with a single structure in which to recruit reinforcements. Multiplayer games and skirmishes play similar to Company of Heroes, where strategic resources are captured allowing players to recruit better units, upgrade their existing units, whilst vying for majority control of the map. Majority control will count down your opponents ticket counter (ie control points), where getting this down to zero results in a victory. Like the single-player game, you control multiple squads, but unlike the single-player game you purchase upgrades and research new skills in-game. This is done without the need to build structures, so instead of having to build an armoury to upgrade to your assault squad's armour, simply select the squad and use the game's intuitive upgrade tree. Essentially what this does is amp up the action from the word go, and when played with teams, proves to be a pretty amazing experience.

Without a doubt Dawn of War II is a great game, one that no strategy or action-RPG fan should pass up.

There's definitely room for growth and the game is not without issues from the 'weird bug' or 'crash to desktop' variety. But above all that, Dawn of War remains incredibly addictive and should prove to have a strong multiplayer community in the months to come. In fact this is the first 'strategy' game to be released in a long time with enormous potential for additional content/expansions.

What we liked
  • RPG/RTS hybrid that works
  • No base building
  • Intense action based game play
  • Robust multiplayer that plays like original, but different!
What we didn't like
  • Game crashes
  • Samey missions
  • Requires both Steam and Games for Windows Live
  • Could use a few more multiplayer maps
More
We gave it:
9.0
OUT OF 10
Latest Comments
Mitch
Posted 01:03pm 23/2/09
Not normally something id play but im glad i gave it a shot. Im addicted now
boba
Posted 01:27pm 23/2/09
mp is fun, until you get f*** who have s*** pcs and high gfx settings and lag the crap out of the game, and if you vote them out then you're short a player
Hogfather
Posted 02:31pm 23/2/09
Hmm your review has me more interested now - I was gonna let this one slide and wait for SC2..
Steve Farrelly
Posted 02:46pm 23/2/09
sucks - i really wanna play this - stuck playing halo wars for review though (not that I'm complaining about that though, it's pretty rad in its own right)
ctd
Posted 02:51pm 23/2/09
Console RTS lol.

Mans I ordered this through CDWOW today but I want it nowwwwwww. I didn't like the beta at first but the more I played the more I liked it.

Also boba can't you just quit if someone on your team has a bad perf rating?
TicMan
Posted 02:53pm 23/2/09
Hrm this looks kind of interesting. I've been hanging out for a new game to play so I might pick this one up and give it a bash.

A+ for reviewer, he made me want to buy a game!
d[o_0]b
Posted 03:54pm 23/2/09
game rocks so so hard, windows live is the suck however :S

boba
Posted 04:19pm 23/2/09
Also boba can't you just quit if someone on your team has a bad perf rating?
If you quit after the game starts I think it counts towards a disconnect or something and zomg stats!
Tiny
Posted 04:42pm 23/2/09
Just Purchased this badboy. I should have it mastered by tommorow. I will keep you posted.
Steve Farrelly
Posted 04:56pm 23/2/09
welcome aboard k-man
infi
Posted 05:41pm 23/2/09
yeah cdwow's shipment is delayed. gay!!!!
d[o_0]b
Posted 07:15pm 23/2/09
GOTY
trog
Posted 10:34pm 23/2/09
Sounds very cool, hopefully will find time to check it out
Mitch
Posted 01:30am 24/2/09
Unfortunately like the review mentions its very crash happy. Took 5 goes to complete a mission before and even then it crashed on completion ( auto saved though).
DeePer
Posted 02:45am 24/2/09
Is it a must have for your collection type game? General opinion seems to be that it's awesome.
Taipan
Posted 09:16am 24/2/09
Deeper let me put it this way if it's only a 1% improvement over the first one it'll be well worth getting. Imo the first one was one of the best RTS games I have bought and I just know this will at the very least be as much fun.

boba
Posted 09:19am 24/2/09
Unfortunately like the review mentions its very crash happy.
I found changing the texture detail and effects density down to medium stopped the crashes for me as there is a bug with it in vista 32 running out of texture memory.
KostaAndreadis
Posted 09:39am 24/2/09
Yeh it's definitely a Vista 32 issue (which this was reviewed on), and putting the settings down to medium kinda minimises the crashes. But Relic are worknig on a fix so we won't hold it against them.... for now. But, the game does looks quite a bit better on high/ultra settings.
Mitch
Posted 09:58am 24/2/09
Ill give that a go boba although i like my high settings >.<
boba
Posted 02:28pm 24/2/09
looks like a patch just got pushed out

Improved memory heap management to reduce 'out-of-memory' crashes that were plaguing certain systems, including 32-Bit Vista on High and Ultra settings. Often reported as 'error 183 failed to create to create dump'
Mitch
Posted 03:46pm 24/2/09
Glad to hear it
Twinsen
Posted 10:36am 25/2/09
I don't know, I didn't read into the game much, but in DOW1 there was a large aspect of base building, and after playing last night and reading into it... it appears that isn't the case with #2???

I also find myself only using my main character, the heavy machine gun guys and when need to blow up a building I'll call the sniper team... no need for the other teams, although I know they have special abilities..

Quite different, and the repetitive missions in single player are quite s***ly designed; but somehow it is slightly addictive, not tried multiplayer yet.





HyperJ
Posted 10:37pm 26/2/09
Did others find the game kinda ended abruptly with a feeling of wanting more? I wanted to use my squad more, but short of replaying last level ("which was too damn easy") again and again, all you can do is restart from scratch. I think it needs diablo-esque replayablity...
TiT
Posted 10:58pm 26/2/09
hows the online games.. lots people battling easy to get a game happening?
philby
Posted 07:41pm 27/2/09
The Zerg are basically Starcraft's Tyranids. You had it the wrong way around ;)

nice review! unfortunately it will be a while before i can play this since our pc needs to be upgraded (replaced) which really sucks. i was looking forward to this game since i read about the changes they were making. dammit.

with regards to steam and this games for windows crap, can you just play offline?? for single player? or do you always have to connect and log in regardless?
Mitch
Posted 04:27pm 28/2/09
You need to log onto steam but logging onto games for windows is optional ( can do so in game, and can be automatic)
TiT
Posted 08:25pm 28/2/09
you can log onto steam offline :)
SnotOne
Posted 05:25pm 06/3/09
After jumping through hoops for Steam and Windows Live .... the game is RTS crap

KMan I shouldve got Empire: World at War
Twinsen
Posted 05:36pm 06/3/09
I beat it the other day... Strange I didn't really like it, but something about it was very addictive, the last boss was fairly easy and it was a pretty good mission, the only mission I came across where I felt 'F*** Yeah'.

I dn why or how but for a bad game I loved it, lol.
infi
Posted 05:37pm 06/3/09
I love it, highly addictive. I will get into multi-player soon. I can't see it being better than CoH though.
pimento
Posted 10:14pm 09/3/09
Anyone else still having sudden crash to desktop happenings with no error messages? Running on ultra in Vista 64-bit here. Other than the crashing, I'm really loving this.. currently playing through the whole thing co-op with a mate, excellent. Nice thing about doing it co-op is being able to really play with tactics.. pincer installations, separate and hit two objectives at once.. all that jazz. Recommended.
Tollaz0r!
Posted 10:54pm 09/3/09
Try setting the affinity to 1 Core. Also if you have Realtek sound on your mobo, get the latest drivers from Realtek.
d[o_0]b
Posted 11:46pm 09/3/09
multiplayer is where the funs at, stressfull stressfull fun. Its like dota on roids and crack
Vash
Posted 01:44am 10/3/09
Been playing multi every day just about.
bloody fun in a 3v3.

Takes awhile to get a game going without someone dropping or lagging it up.

Hope they fix the popcap bug soon, thats giving me the s**** as i cant fully reinforce my troops without the bug happening.
Weetbixs
Posted 05:14am 02/8/09
BUY THIS GAME

Awesome game, If your into lan's this game will have you yelling with victory or punching your friend in the arm,

OH and windows live really sucks balls
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