Relic are a developer that have been known to take chances, they crafted a fantastic space based rts with a superb story way back with the original Homeworld. Took us to places unknown with Impossible Creatures, gave us a slice of hybrid rts/3rd person shooter action via the Outfit on Xbox 360. They were responsible for turning the rts genre on its head with the seminal Dawn of War series and Company of Heroes powered by their Essence Engine kicked that up another notch.
So now the 41st Millennium returns with a bang and a hefty machine required to get the best out of it. Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War II is powered by Essence 2.0 and takes the rts genre to a whole new level.Story
Dawn of War II has probably one of the best rts game stories since Company of Heroes, Relic have captured the feel of the Warhammer 40K Universe quite perfectly and I have been a Warhammer 40K fan since the beginning, Rogue Trader. You are a newly promoted Space Marine Force Commander assigned to turn the tide of battle in Sub-Sector Aurelia. The Orks have mobilised en-masse for a WAAAGH and have attacked the recruitment world of Calidas, the home and future of the Blood Ravens: A Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes, the Imperium of Man's finest defenders - Space Marines.
From this beginning you'll be thrust into the heart of a story that spans several days in the life of a few good men. These are your squad but they are also your Battle Brothers, they are not faceless or soulless - every single one of these leaders is your window into a deeper understanding of the story that unfolds and the part that the Blood Ravens (THQ's own Chapter) play in the upcoming conflict. Characters like Tarkus, Avitus, Cyrus and Thaddeus are given their own personalities and parts in this epic tale.Gameplay
Rts as a genre has been getting stagnant really, it's been a constant fight to come up with something new and fresh, something that might appeal to a fervent and hardcore fanbase as well as draw in new players via accessibility and ease of use. Usually it's a long slog to learn a complex tech tree whilst other opponents and friends can bring out a fully operational base in a few minutes to drive your forces into the ground and stomp your dreams of conquest into dust.
There's usually nothing to make the single player game stand out from the multiplayer aspect and new players wander off, discouraged by the whole thing.
Dawn of War II attempts to redress that issue by approaching the whole game in singleplayer, as well as multiplayer with a fresh lick of paint and a new take on an old dog. So for the purposes of this review I'm going to tackle the Gameplay in two parts, first the single then the multiplayer.Singleplayer Gameplay
This game revolves around a campaign meta-map that can be approached a number of ways, tailored to your play style. You are assigned a number of squads to manage (4) and with these at your disposal must battle against a superior force that definitely has the numerical advantage. Fortunately a single Space Marine is worth at least 30 enemy soldiers, or that's roughly what the fluff tends to say. A single mission has numerous objectives and it will always be clearly outlined in a full mission briefing.
You may be tasked to seize an important asset for the Blood Ravens, defend a key structure, search and destroy enemy structures or kill an enemy combatant. These kill missions are easily the most epic of the battles you'll face as you'll be going up against a boss style character with special abilities and attacks as well as his hordes of minions. You'll find that it's easy enough to control the squads though since you're down to only 4 with a simple interface system.