It's not just the static graphics that are superb. Dawn of War II has numerous animations on the squads, heroes and the environment that bring the 40K Universe closer than ever before. The synch-kills when in melee combat either in single or multiplayer are excellent and there's nothing that appears out of place. There are numerous kill effects that appear at various points when in hand to hand or ranged combat and no unit dies the same way twice when struck by prolonged fire. Every character is suitably animated and you can get a sense of the different personalities from these effects.AI
Squads and Heroes will go into cover based on where you click; the game's GUI lets you know by flashing certain places on the main screen. A different coloured dot appears to let you get an idea of possible cover opportunities and the protection that it offers. The enemy will do the same. Pathfinding can get a little choked at some times in the multiplayer but since most of the bigger units can smash through walls and buildings, that's not a problem. The enemy AI in skirmish and singleplayer is pretty good. I don't quite understand the complaints of some people that I've read, especially on Relic's own forums. The AI is functional, it offers a challenge and if you want a bigger challenge, get online and play real players.Physics
Squads and enemies are thrown around with a brutal force from the impact of grenades, heavy powers, explosives and in some cases special triggered events. The Space Marine drop pods can cause massive damage to units that are unlucky enough to be caught under them when they arrive for instance. Cover plays an important part and with the physics engine allowing you to blow up a lot of the environment or smash it, that cover won't be around for long. This changes the tactical situation quickly and forces you to adapt on the fly. The physics system gives the objects in the world weight as well, so that you know a Dreadnought is around when the metal shod feet cause things to shake a little and the wall crumbles as the walking tank smashes through it.Sound
The sound design for Dawn of War II is top notch. The weapon sounds for the various factions are excellent and the Space Marine Heavy Bolter makes a gorgeous deep throated sound, whilst you can almost hear the Ork guns with their Dakka-Dakka effect. Every sound from the spot effects to the clash and rip of a chainsword in melee is one step closer to bringing the 40K Universe to life in the game and they compliment the graphics perfectly.Music
The soundtrack to Dawn of War 2 is a good one; it's flowing, epic and suits the various factions, maps and moments in the campaign as well as the multiplayer skirmishes if you have it enabled.Voice/Dialogue
From the Ork banter in Skirmish, to the dialogue spoken in the singleplayer campaign, Dawn of War 2 is packed with some tight writing and excellent voice acting. The Space Marines have a dark ominous undertone to their voices, as if every battle might be their last. Cyrus' cynical tones reminded me of David Hayter as Solid Snake and I think it's the same actor from Dawn of War who did the Vindicare Assassin voice for the Imperial Guard faction units. There's nothing I can say apart from the voice work and acting in the game is great, my favourite character has to be Avitas for his unwavering loyalty to the Emperor and his no-nonsense 'kill them all' mentality.
For anyone who says the writing is staid, clichéd and the characters seem like stereotypical gung-ho soldiers. I say this; the 40K Universe breeds the Space Marines to fight in war not pick flowers and arrange them like Samurai. The acting reflects this and I felt satisfied by the voice actor's performances, being a huge 40K
nut.For the Emperor
Relic has managed to take the tired, boring on rts genre and turn it on its head. They have take a bold new step in the direction of the genre by removing base building and the unit spam of so many other games. It's now a much more refined experience and with Steam powering the patching, you'll never have to worry about getting another patch on time again. As of this writing we were already two patches in and any bugs that I could have mentioned were well and truly quashed.
Apart from the odd bit of lag online in the play, we've had no real problems with the campaign and the skirmish. Everything runs smoothly on the game machine and the game plays perfectly for hours on end. No crashes to desktop with this system/setup.
If you want a new kind of rts, a new breed, get Dawn of War 2. This is only just the beginning - with promised free DLC and more on the way, it's an exciting time for new and old fans alike.
As the chant and litany of the Imperium goes:
Burn the Heretic!
Kill the Mutant!
Purge the Unclean!