Developer: Relic Entertainment
Genre: Tactical RPG
OFLC Rating: M
Reviewer’s Note: For those of you who read my preliminary (ungraded) review for the Dawn of War II demo on Facebook (since removed along as result of account closure), this is the full written as promised.
A number of prime-time Real-Time Strategy franchises have gone the way of Real-Time Tactics, this has proven to either make or break a game as one wrong move in the presentation of the format could blow it all in a heartbeat. Command & Conquer hasn’t pulled through it’s RTT transformation so well, whereas Dawn of War has proven otherwise.
In fact Dawn of War II goes further to deliver a strong Action-Roleplay driven experience presented in the form of an RTT game. I will say this now… How you approach this game determines the experience you will have. To come fresh out of playing the original Dawn of War series and expecting the same type of experience from this game. No, you’re wasting your time as you will be met with a degree of disappointment. To approach this purely as an RTT. You would only gain a portion of the experience that Dawn of War II has to offer, yet you would doing better than someone with RTS expectations. Now to approach this game as an Action-Roleplay, you will find the experience most rewarding.
In some ways I get the feeling that Games Workshop was trying to bring the Dawn of War franchise’s gameplay style into line with the Warhammer 40,000 tabletop kit based Turn-Based Strategy game, as would appear from watching the multiplayer free for all action. Now there are three sides to the Dawn of War II (especially the Gold Edition), firstly you have the story-driven campaigns, secondly the standard multiplayer modes and final the new DLC introduced (featured as part of the Gold Edition package) Last Stand – a competitive / cooperative hero survival mode.
The general gameplay has you in command of no more than four units/squads (all pre-bound to number key – which means you don’t need to as via “Control + #”) and each unit’s abilities have hotkeys bound to them, selecting all units in your on screen is as easy as hitting “Control + A”. Taking this into account you will want to use both mouse and keyboard to maximise the efficiency in commanding your party, something you get used to when playing Action-RPGs. Like the original Dawn of War series you can position your units in cover and garrison them in structures for more protective cover in order to gain the tactical advantage. Reinforcing is done automatically by means of positioning them around a strategic point that can be secured (these are marked as by star on the minimap/radar). Being presented in as RTT there is naturally no base-building and any bases on the field are strategic points that offer bonuses. Each unit (squad / individual) levels up and has a set of attributes, they can be equipped and re-equipped with gear between missions, as can you distribute attribute points from “Level Ups”. When playing you can gain “Loot” from raiding supply containers (often containing supply increases that restock finite abilities like medkits and grenades) and from various random drops after killing enemies on the field, although you always get a loot from killing a boss. However each campaign mission discloses are a reward offering a piece of gear to add to your party’s gear stash.
The main feature of the Gold Edition package is that both campaigns from this series are featured for a single price. You have the original Dawn of War II campaign ultimately pitting you against the Tyranids and Chaos Rising from the EP that has you fighting the Chaos Marines of course (yet again). Both campaigns have a strong story-driven experience with an epic feel to them and the story that links them places them occurring year apart from each other. Both campaign stories in a nutshell… Discover formidable foe. Foil their plans for apocalypse. Fight them in a showdown of epic proportions. That’s the campaigns presented brief and spoiler-free.
Here’s the big question. Is it worth it?
If you’re looking to play the sequel to Dawn of War expecting an RTS. No.
If you’re looking for an RTT set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Maybe.
If you’re open to immersing yourself in an Action-Roleplay RTT experience. Definitely.
Even if you couldn’t be buggered paying for an Xbox Live Gold membership in order to get in on the multiplayer action, the campaigns alone will be enough to satisfy you.
Provided you take right approach to this game Dawn of War II is well worth it!