Dawn of War II



Dawn of War II (DOW2) is the sequel to Relic’s Warhammer 40,000 RTS, based on the Warhammer tabletop game and its massive universe. It’s a PC-exclusive title that doesn’t pretend to be anything but; prepare to have your spare time devoured.

If you’re new to the Warhammer universe, now might be a good time to read up briefly on it. Go on, I’ll be here when you get back. Done? Good, let’s get on with it then. DOW2 is a bit different from other RTS games, in that it features strong RPG elements through the single player campaign. Instead of focusing on base building, DOW2 gives you a certain set of ‘heroes’, each with special skills and equipment. You choose your squad using four of these heroes, all of which belong to different legions of the Space Marines. The Space Marines are basically Schwarzenegger on steroids, only much bigger and stronger.

The RPG elements of the game become apparent as your heroes all level up through experience in the campaign. The campaign itself is somewhat non-linear, in that you can choose side missions that will boost your heroes’ level. While in battle, your squad can also pick up loot – gear that you can equip at the start of each mission.

The combat itself is a fairly standard point and click job, with the additional bonus of special abilities. In combat the game takes advantage of a brilliant cover mechanic, with troops behind cover getting fire bonuses, as well as ducking for cover when ambushed. This mechanic works very well, by far the best of any serious RTS I’ve ever played.

DOW2 is a truly stunning game, and I found myself using the zoom tool more than once to see my troops in action. With individual setups come individual styles of battle, and you can quickly see the difference in your units. Relic has managed to capture the sci-fi look of the space marines beautifully, and each battle plays out differently. Throw in individual voice actors for your heroes and you have yourself a surprisingly good story to go along with the visuals.

In order to use the multiplayer and skirmish modes of the game you’ll have to sign up to Windows Live (DOW2 also tracks achievements), which is the only gripe I could find in the game. Skirmish mode is more RTS-focused, although units are produced on the battlefield rather than in a home base. This gives multiplayer battles a sense of urgency and I loved the instant action feel of the skirmishes.

Overall, DOW2 is an excellent RTS with strong RPG elements that will suit fans of both genres. It acts as a good introduction to Warhammer lore for newbs, and stays true to Warhammer canon for established fans. Packaged beautifully, DOW2 is a game I can highly recommend, and a sign that PC gaming is alive and kicking.

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Jan Birkeland

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