When Relic brought us Dawn of War
and Winter Assault
they created two of the finest RTS games on the face of the planet in my opinion. I have always loved the Warhammer 40K
Universe so to see it brought to life in such visceral detail was something quite special.
Now not long after the success of Company of Heroes
Relic are back with a 40K bang and present Dark Crusade, the next chapter in the Warhammer 40K games but with a total overhaul of the single player experience.
In the first two games Relic took a lot of flak from gamers over the short campaigns and the gameplay therein, they rectified it mostly with Winter Assault but they have gone for the throat with Warhammer 40,000 Dawn of War: Dark Crusade.
Set on the planet Kronus Dark Crusade is arguably the best expansion pack for a game thatís ever been made. In fact to call it an expansion is a bit of a misnomer. Itís a stand alone product that introduces hybrid game play if you own the other two previous Dawn of War games.
I presume thereís locked content in the game and both CD Keys from the previous retail games unlock the other playable races in the new game. Personally I canít see anyone not being without the two other games because they are excellent titles, even the expansion pack brought a lot of new content to the original.
Those familiar with a RTS game will be able to jump right in, as always thereís an excellent tutorial that shows you the basics and the rest is left up to you to figure out. The game play for the new game differs from the previous titles by quite a margin, the single player campaign is the meat and bone of Dark Crusade and introduces two new factions to the mix.
The Tau and the robotic undead: Necrons, both of these factions are not just a clever repaint of old ones; they are vastly different from each other and require a different strategy to use. The Tau is quite technologically superior but they do not have sentry guns or turrets that you can use to defend an area, they rely on their heavy battle armour and their heavy vehicles.
The Necron faction is slow moving and ponderous. They spread over the battlefield like a plague when they get started. Thereís nothing quite as frightening than seeing a fully powered Necron Monolith coming for you, that battle fortress often spells game over unless you know how to take it down.
Necrons also use power and every point on the map they capture gives them an extra percentage to their build speed, once they hit 100% they are capable of dominating the battlefield quite effectively, a key strategy to stopping them is to strike at their captured locations quickly.
With two extra factions and the hybrid game play from the other games, this brings the final total in Dark Crusade up to seven playable factions. The game also adds new units for all the armies present which Iíll cover in a short while. The single player story is masterfully done and told through a mix of detailed narration and in-game engine cut-scenes.