The Space Marines are back, the Xenophobe, Emperor Loving, genetically and technically modified men. Who could be compared to the Saxon Warriors of old, except they have no time for gold or women. Taken from the game Warhammer 40k, by the “Games Workshop”, you command the Blood Ravens chapter. Their history is unknown and invented solely for the Dawn of War PC game. And yet boast the biggest collection of stories, over all the other chapters, which you can read more here:
Dawn of War has changed, from its RTS shell, and I am glad to say for the better. Relic, over the last five years has systematically changed the face of the RTS, and has become almost unstoppable. DOW is now a RTS game with role playing elements in it, first toyed with in Warcraft 3, but perfected now. You control around four squads of characters and take them through missions. No more building of bases, just scenarios and missions. This to me is just perfect for Warhammer 40k, as it emulates the board top game to a tee, but with the added bonus of not having to use your imagination.
Imagination is over rated, or at least I thought so! There are some god awful things in this game, and for the most part you will look them over. While there are a few flaws, the main critique is that there is only two mission types, seriously, is that all Relic could come up with? First mission type, take your squads to a point on the map and defeat a boss. Or second mission type; defend your “base” from attack. There is one other mission but it too closely resembles a boss mission, that you’d miss it, if you blinked. This leads to a huge amount of repetition, and wonder if I’ve been conned. Only I absolutely loved this game, so it's a con I’m happy to live with.
You are granted with five squads, each with their abilities and weaknesses. First the Force Commander, your character, which you have to bring, and can mold to your playing style. Thaddeus, the commander of the assault squad with his devastating close quarter weapon, the jump pack. Tarkus the infantry commander, his favorite weapons bolters and Frag Grenades. Cyrus the Sniper expert and also dabbles in heavy demolition. Finally Avitus the Heavy Weapons and suppression expert. You can mold these guys into other areas, for example, Tarkus can be trained for close combat, if you should wish. This leads to choice.
Or maybe not! With all the special weapons and items you pick up, I was unimpressed by the variety. It was suppose to offer choice, tactics, and strategy. But you find yourself sticking to the more conventional, because it does more damage and that’s good enough. There are some useful tools, but not enough to be competitive, or to warrant the kind of choice that you have been led to believe.
Yet this game doesn’t disappoint! There have been many a time I would do similar strategies, and each time I would marvel at pulling them off. Personally my squad would consist of the Force Commander with a jump pack, and Thaddeus, both specked for close combat. Then Avitus for suppression and Tarkus to fill in the middle. I’d jet pack in the close combat guys, who would land with a thunderous boom, Avitus would then cut them to pieces and suppress them at the same time. My close combat guys mercilessly slaughtering while Tarkus would finish off the stragglers.
In your campaign, roughly lasting 45 days which constitutes as a mission a day. But if you do well, you earn an extra deployment, which means two or three missions in one day. But for arguments sake, in a 50 mission game, your loyalties will begin to waver after day 35. It’s not because of the repetitive missions, or even the repetitive attacking styles. It’s actually because of a silly little thing. The best weapons, Terminator Armour and Dreadnoughts, are only assessable at the end of the game, roughly day 43-44. By this stage, you feel you are postponing, which then labors the dynamic of the game. It just feels like having to play for the sake of it.
This time around there are only four races, similar to DOW 1, which only leads me to believe any expansion pack coming out, will just be an add-on race to this game, much like DOW 1. Is that a bad thing? Well only time will tell, but in the case of DOW 1 things started to gentle roll down hill after Winter Assault. It wasn’t that they were bad, it’s just that playing the latest game, would automatically make the previous obsolete.
The storyline is fantastic, first class, and well told. It comes out in a mission briefing style, and you’re allowed to equip squads as it happens. This means that you can pay attention or not, but of course you do. So you enjoy it and get involved more. I am still reveling in the one line Avitus spews out after destroying yet another boss. “Those that are afraid should now get out from under the bed!” The story unfolds and it’s your squad members that tell you about it, this immediately brings you in the middle and encompasses you. The story is of your recruitment worlds being threatened by the fourth race, the much anticipated Tyranids.
These evil, vicious, disgusting creatures, who feed on the planet to increase their numbers. Sounds just like humans, except they are unified by one hive mind. The Hive has set its sights on the Blood Ravens sector, and you have to stop them. Of course the Eldar and Orks also make their appearance, with their own twist to this story, but your fate is to save your home worlds.
The graphics are good, explosions are very impressive and characters all come to life. While I never encountered any problems, most seem to revolve around Vista 32bit, rather than anything graphically. Also this game doesn’t seem to hog much of the system and is quiet stable. Still it has its fair share of problems, but credit to Relic, they are at least very proactive. This makes a welcome change to the other pathetic excuses, which called themselves game developers.
Co-op Play, makes another appearance here, this time, you and a friend can split the work load between you. Two squads each, makes it a lot less stressful and hectic, and after playing certain missions, wished I had tried it out. Especially with bosses, and the huge amount of chaos that can ensue, this is a neat little feature you might want to try out.
Skirmish maps, is where everything comes back to base building RTS, but with a slight difference. Putting it mildly, base building; I can’t remember why, as a consumer I ever put up with it. It makes me wonder what I ever saw in Command and Conquer, and any game that can shake its roots to the foundation has to be a must play! The skirmish feels new, revived, and is surprisingly enjoyable. This time you get a base, that is able to produce units, and your units are able to level up and upgrade. This makes a skirmish game fun, as long as you have the time. Short games are not suggested, as it will feel a little flat. However on the down side you are only given five or six skirmish maps.
The Copy Protection system to rival SecuROM, is Steam. I don’t know which one is worse, as Steam requires you to sign up to numerous online accounts, Steam and Games Live. People with an internet connection that’s a tad slow; beware as you are often told to download the newest version of the game. And by the time you buy it, you can guarantee there is an update; of course you’re wondering why you bought the 4.7GB+ DVD in the first place.
Relic, despite the small amount of flaws, has set the bar high. It almost feels like heresy not to play this game, and we all know how Space Marines feel about heretics...
System Requirements taken from the Readme File 1) INSTALLATION & SET UP Please note that Dawn Of War II does not support Microsoft(R) Windows(R) 95/98/NT/2000.
1.1 MINIMUM SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS - Windows(R) XP SP2 or Vista(R) SP1 - Intel 3.2GHz / AMD Athlon64 3200+ / Intel Core (or Pentium D) 2.0 GHz or higher CPU - 1GB RAM (Windows(R) XP) or 1.5GB RAM (Vista(R)) - NVIDIA 6600GT 128MB / ATI X1600 128MB with latest manufacturer drivers. - DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card - 5.5GB of uncompressed Hard Drive Space - Online Steam account - Games For Windows(R) LIVE Local Profile
1.2 RECOMMENDED SYSTEM SPECIFICATIONS - Windows(R) XP SP2 or Vista(R) SP1 - Intel Core2 Duo / Core2 Quad, or AMD Phenom CPU - 2GB RAM - NVIDIA 8800GT 512MB / ATI 3850 512MB or comparable with latest manufacturer drivers DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card - 9GB of uncompressed Hard Drive space - Online Steam account - Games For Windows(R) LIVE Enabled Profile
1.3 MULTIPLAYER SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS - For 6 player multiplayer or skirmish matches, the Recommended System Requirements are strongly suggested - Internet (TCP/IP) and LAN (TCP/IP) play supported. - Internet play requires broadband connection, latest drivers, and a Games For Windows(R) LIVE Enabled Profile. - LAN play requires network interface card, latest drivers and a Games For Windows(R) Local Profile.
1.4 STEAM CLIENT INSTALLATION AND ACCOUNT CREATION The Dawn of War II installer will check your computer for an existing installation of the Steam Client. If it detects that no Steam Client is installed, it will automatically begin an installation of the Client. If it detects an older version of the Steam Client the installer will update that version to the most current. Following the Steam Client installation and/or update, the installer will prompt you for your Steam Account login information. If you do not already have a Steam Account, you will create an account at this time.
1.5 DIRECTX(R) DETECTION AND INSTALLATION The Dawn Of War II installer will check your computer for the currently installed version of DirectX(R). If it detects an older version of DirectX(R), it will install DirectX(R) 9.0c and 10 automatically. The installation of DirectX(R) will not harm your DirectX(R) configuration. Dawn Of War II requires DirectX(R) to install and play.
1.6 GAMES FOR WINDOWS(R) LIVE PROFILE CREATION Upon launching Dawn Of War II for the first time, the game will prompt you to enter your Games For Windows(R) LIVE Enabled Profile information. If you do not already have a Games For Windows(R) LIVE Enabled profile, you will be prompted to create one.
You have the choice to create a Games For Windows(R) LIVE Local Profile or a LIVE Enabled Profile. Creating a Local profile allows you to play single player campaign and private skirmish matches only but does allow you to earn Achievements or to benefit from any of the online features of Games For Windows(R) LIVE. To experience the most from Dawn of War II play, and to participate in online matches, it is recommended to create a Games For Windows(R) LIVE Enabled Profile.