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Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War 2 Review
developer: Relic Entertainment
PIV 3200, 1GB RAM, 5.5GB HDD, 128MB video card
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Feb 19, 09 (released)
|» All About Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War 2 on ActionTrip|
Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War 2 represents one of those games we were rather looking forward to this year. True-hearted Dawn of War fans are probably well into the multiplayer right now, enjoying the hell out of it ever since THQ and Relic launched the beta. As for us, we didn't get a chance to get much play time out of the beta, but we did, of course, manage to dip into the various intricate aspects of the retail edition. If you aren't familiar with Relic Entertainment's development history, perhaps you should know that they've made quite a few excellent games, bringing successful franchises to life - Homeworld, Company of Heroes and, naturally, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War.
Dawn of War 2 tells a story about the distant future and the Imperium of Man, which once strived to conquer and expand across the vast regions of the galaxy. Times have changed, as they always do. Instead of conquering and exploring the universe, the Imperium of Man is desperately fighting to stay alive, vastly outnumbered by a superior alien foe. The only real hope lies in the so-called Space Marines, highly trained and genetically modified warriors, who are capable of fighting through some of the toughest battles.
Plunging into the single-player campaign means you'll be leading the Space Marines into battle. In other words, there's no story mode for Orks, Eldar or the Tyranids (a.k.a. an extremely hostile alien race). Essentially, as a solo experience, Dawn of War offers three planets where a variety of missions becomes available as you progress. At a later stage, you can switch between these three systems at any time.
The first crucial change made from the first Dawn of War game is the exclusion of base building. Players focus entirely on a strict number of main characters, which they get to level and equip throughout the entire experience, RPG style. The gameplay mechanics are a lot more fun and engrossing than we had originally anticipated. It kind of harks back to the good old days of playing strategies like Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos, which is obviously a good thing. The absence of base building -- an essential aspect in nearly every real-time strategy -- makes this game all the more alluring. You don't have to waste your time on resource management, unit production, etc. The only thing you have to make sure is that your squad captures at least one Reinforcement Beacon. Securing the beacon replenishes the number of units from each squad under your command. The system is intuitive and works like a charm throughout the game.
The biggest problem in the solo mode is the generally repetitive mission structure. There's only a handful of missions with unique goals, such as rescuing Captain Thule or defending one of the Space Marine bases. What you'll find is that the tasks boil down to eliminating all foes on the map, fighting a skilled enemy boss-unit and finally collecting the well-deserved loot. Now, that last part is, basically, what this game's all about. Collecting armor, weapons, different accessories, as well as various items for your Commander unit, contribute to the game's RPG-like qualities.
Another obvious effort made by the developers was stringing to missions together with a coherent and interesting plot via well-written dialogue, which takes place between the main characters. The generally appealing story presentation is intertwined with short, but superbly done, cinematics. The setting itself is very compelling, as is the atmosphere during each battle fought by your valiant Space Marines. The soundtrack and top-quality sound effects make this game a joy to watch and listen. Each tune turns the ongoing mission into a marvelously directed battle scene, accompanied by imaginatively designed and highly detailed environments.
8.1 Very Good
The multiplayer, atmospheric battles, decent storyline, first-rate soundtrack and solid voiceovers, well-designed maps, addictive RPG-like gameplay mechanics;
Single-player lacks depth thanks to repetitive mission design, a number of bugs that need to be ironed out.