Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II

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Dawn of War II
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II
Developer(s) Relic Entertainment
Publisher(s) THQ
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
Release Dates NA: February 19 2009
EU: February 20 2009
Ratings 16+
Players 1-8
Compatible With Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II
Compatible Add-ons Steam
Dawn of War II: The Last Stand
Preceeded By Dawn of War: Soulstorm
Succeeded By Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising

Dawn of War II is the newest addition to the Dawn of War series, and the first of a new era of Dawn of War games (as implied by the 2). As the player can immediately see by the box cover, the game has greatly improved graphics, and is now compatible with the Microsoft product Steam. The races, majorly, have remained; there are 4 races in this game, one of which is a new addition - the Tyranids. A new generation of Dawn of War gaming lies ahead.

Two expansion packs for the game have been announced; the first being The Last Stand, a sort of mini game that expands on the survival aspect of the game. The second official expansion pack is labelled Chaos Rising.


[edit] Featured Races

Races in Dawn of War II are based in part off of Fantasy races which are well known, such as the Orcs or the Elves. One could consider this a futuristic version of what these fantasy races would become once they move outside of the medieval environment they are usually assosiated with.

[edit] Playable in Campaign

[edit] Playable in Multiplayer/Skirmish

[edit] Gameplay

The Warhammer franchise, like many others before it, has been known to expand the way gaming works and this is no different, incorporating a number of gameplay systems not seen often before into gameplay.

[edit] Squad Based Gameplay

One of the predominant changes to the typical RTS scheme as seen in the Dawn of War II universe is the movement away from setting up economies and bases, and moving more towards an RPG-hybrid squad-based RPG system. This means that, essentially, base building has been excised from the Real Time Strategy formula, which is considered a rarity in the gaming industry. During gameplay, the player will take control of 6 different types of squads, but only 4 squads total at maximum, each with a specific special abilitiy, such as a heavy weapons squad called the Avitus.

[edit] RPG Hybrid Elements

For fans of these games in the past, Warhammer: Dawn of War II also contains an RPG element. Squads will be able to gain levels (an extension to its predecessor, Dawn of War: Soulstorm), which will in turn improve their abilities, varying statistics, and also provide the player to customize, to some degree, the individual squads to needs or player styles.

[edit] Campaign

Although the game does provide four playable races in the form of the Eldar, Orks, Tyranids and Space Marines, only the last of those four races are playable during the single player campaign. All of the races will be available for use in multiplayer versions of gameplay, however.

[edit] Media Reviews and Reception

General reactions since the release of Dawn of War II have been positive, ranging from values quite high in the scale from 80-95% amongst many recognized gaming sites. In addition, reviews and scores from users have also been very promising with a generally positive response to the game release, as seen on GameTrailer's Review Page, with a score of 9.1.

Many reviewers applaud the success of removing some central aspects of many RTS games, such as the base building aspects. Also, many congratulate the designers of Dawn of War II on also managing to crete a game with excellent graphics. The problems assosiated with the game have generally been attributed to game balancing, a possible lack of content and repetitive single player, although many reviewers scores show that there are many positives to gameplay and to the game as a whole to cover these flaws.

[edit] Neoseeker

Lydia Sung from Neoseeker has provided an excellent review for the most recent release in the Warhammer 40,000 family, giving the game a solid 9.8/10!

It's definitely worth checking out for it's excellent videos and screenshots alongside in depth details about the game.

Despite my general preference for microing on an even smaller scale, Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War II has pulled me back into the RTS genre. Relic introduces certain mechanics that are not typically found in titles within this category, but it all works out in a strange way. The unexpected fusion of RTS and RPG breaks up a monotonous campaign burdened by its uninteresting and unoriginal story.

The small-scall battles are also a nice change, especially if you're a newcomer to the Warhammer 40k series like myself. Okay, so not everyone is going to like these changes, and some of the more hardcore fans might've already voiced their displeasure since the game's release. But Relic set out to solve what they considered to be three key problems with RTS: excessive emphasis on base-building, not enough rewards to the player, and dettachment from combat. In that respect, they were successful, even if these new features don't appeal to every boy and girl. Relic has no doubt alienated a few Warhammer 40k and real-time strategy fans by utilizing mechanics of RPG, and they can't hope to convert the anti-RTS gamers.

That being said, Dawn of War II brings refreshing changes to a genre some consider too stale. The interface is simple and designed for easy navigation, the combat mechanics can be picked up within minutes, and the visuals are a seamless feast for the eyes. I highly recommend this game to anyone with an open mind.

[edit] IGN

IGN offered a review which has high scores across the board, but with a definite spike in the scores for Graphics.

Relic has made a lot of bold decisions with Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II, some of which are sure to turn off parts of the RTS hardcore base, the most obvious being the elimination of base building. Yet as players we can't continue to accept the same kinds of games, complain about stagnation, and then turn our backs when somebody does something different. In the campaign portion of the game Relic blended elements of action-RPGs and real-time strategy games and succeeded in producing a new and entertaining kind of experience. The missions could be more interesting and quality of narrative delivery stronger, but what's here is a terrific alternative to the standard base-bashing real-time strategy campaigns, hopefully something Relic is able to expand and further improve with expansions. A full multiplayer suite and four playable races are there waiting for you when you're through with the campaign, and should provide lots of fast-paced bouts of brutal conflict online and in skirmishes against the AI. While the overall formula could still use some fine-tuning, the current product is one part hypercharged tactical combat, one part streamlined competitive RTS, and entirely worth playing.

[edit] GameSpot

Gamespot also offered a generally positive review, giving the game a solid score of 9 out of ten!

The first question that you might ask yourself as you play Dawn of War II's lengthy campaign may very well be: Where does the strategy come in? It's certainly not your typical RTS experience, putting you in control of up to four squads of Space Marines (and only Space Marines) and sending you off to exterminate your Ork, Eldar, and Tyranid foes. You won't be building a base or churning out units, but rather maneuvering your few commander-led squads around the map (likely as a single group) and beating up the beasties that stand between you and your mission objectives. Your goals may entail capturing a particular structure, recovering a stolen object, or even defeating an end-level boss(!). How's that for defying genre conventions?

This relatively simple gameplay is not what you'd expect from a strategy game, and strategy fans, including those who adored Dawn of War II's illustrious predecessor, will be disappointed that the "S" is missing from "RTS" in this instance. That's because the campaign is more akin to an action RPG, and if you look at it from this perspective, you're more likely to enjoy the journey. The game isn't going to dissuade you from that approach; the elements of a role-playing game are all accounted for. You will level up your squads and earn new abilities and bonuses, collect items and loot on the battlefield, and spend time between battles equipping your commanders with the various armor sets and weapons that you earn. With these RPG mechanics come the usual addictive loot-hoarding and unit personalization, what with various skill paths from which to choose and usable items that your commanders can equip.

[edit] Gamespy

Gamespy offered a similar response to the game as the above, giving a total of four and a half stars out of five -- an excellent score! Much of the loss of that 10% appears to have been due to gameplay issues.

The great thing is that this seemingly unlikely hybrid actually works. As Space Marine squads fight, they'll gain RPG-like levels that give the player points that can be used to enhance their ranged damage, melee skills, health or energy. As these skills go up, the Marines will also develop a variety of special abilities that can be used on the battlefields. Also migrating over from the RPG is the concept of random loot drops that comes from both grunts and special "boss monsters" on the battlefield. This equipment is even color-coded using the now-standard World of Warcraft color scheme to indicate how rare and powerful it is. Between missions, this equipment can be slotted on a Marine squad and will radically change the way they play.

The good news is that while the addition of all these RPG-like elements may offend real-time strategy purists, it doesn't alter the essential nature of the game. This is still a strategy title, and once I embraced the game's ethos I had a blast kitting out my Space Marines with different weapons and planning out their development in order to acquire different skills that worked well together. Unlike a traditional RPG, there's no "best" piece of equipment or particular skill that a player has to have in order to complete the single-player campaign. In my case, I tended to build my squad around Avitus' ability to suppress enemy fighters, and used Thaddeus and my own Avatar's jump jets to stun and slaughter enemies suppressed by the defilade in melee. On the other hand, I found no use for Cyrus the scout within my own play style. This alone offers considerable replay value in that after completing the campaign I can easily see myself going back to try and figure out new strategies built around Cyrus and other types of weapons.

[edit] Gamezone

Gamezone gives Dawn of War II a solid 9 out of 10, praising it's gameplay and considering it a "worthy sequel" to the previous Dawn of War.

Instead of getting a blank slate whenever you move on from one mission to the next, Dawn of War II has some surprisingly deep unit development features. Your units will gain experience points that can be doled out for increased stats and you can even purchase new equipment and weapons to arm them with. This is executed quite well and easily, and feels surprisingly natural, even if you’re a hardcore traditionalist of the RTS genre.

Aside from tackling the campaign alone you’ll be able to play through it and skirmishes online. The campaign mode lets you and a friend play through the game’s missions and sub-missions together. Skirmishes let you play in standard one-on-one matches, or three-on-three, allowing you to play as not only the Space Marines, but the Orks, Eldar and Tyranid races.

[edit] Game Revolution

Notoriously tough game reviewer Geoff Hunt of Game Revolution awarded this game a B for it's efforts, commenting on the success of some aspects of the gameplay mechanics and aesthetic appeal but also noting several gameplay problems, including balancing of gameplay and the repetitiveness of gameplay overall.

It’s also worth noting that – when compared against the previous Dawn of War – DoW2 feels like there’s much less content. We’re presumably going to see roughly the same cycle of expansions introducing the other major forces of the Warhammer 40K universe, so be prepared to buy a few more expansions before you get access to all the races you’re interested in. I, for one, miss the Imperial Guard. Although they get a couple cameo appearances in the campaign of DoW2, I really want to run around with a 60-man army of lasery death.

As I said before, Dawn of War II is really quite good. But it’s not what I’d hoped for. With shallower gameplay, a dearth of content, and some very distinct repetition, the game feels more like a jumping off point than a complete release. Part of the problem here is that Relic is following up the ridiculous amount of variety and content in the first Dawn of War series with a fresh start – in comparison, DoW2 just feels like the first pour of whiskey. I’ll look forward to the next two completing the glass, but for right now, this seems more like a taste test than a proper drink.

[edit] Cheatcc

Cheatcc's Cole Smith provides us some insight into Dawn of War II, awarding it a must buy title with a score of 4.8/5. What minor rating drops occured due to FX and audio were regained by playability of the game.

Online multiplayer modes feature Campaign and Skirmish. The Skirmish mode includes one-on-one or three-on-three matches. All four factions are playable, and this time there is a base, but it's used for producing more units. The key to winning the match is acquiring the most victory points, a task that includes capturing enemy strongholds and eradicating enemy units. To keep things on a level playfield, the leveling-up is restricted to the host in the multiplayer modes, but there is a shift back to the micromanagement as there are more units available for each faction that are produced from the base. To diversify the gameplay even further, you can play the entire single-player campaign cooperatively.

Talking with other online players, I was surprised to hear just how well the game ran on various PC systems. A few were running the bare minimum of the suggested requirements with no problems. I experienced only a little bit of slowdown when the combat really heated up. Keep in mind this game is overflowing with production values. Graphically it's amazing, with lots of detail and background animation. With a great soundtrack, Hollywood-quality voiceovers, and explosive sound effects, this game begs to be seen and heard. The interface is user-friendly, and hotkey commands will be automatically assigned to units to make production easier.

[edit] Computer and Video Games (CVG)

CVG offers a solid score of 8.0 in it's review of Dawn of War II.

While some equipment - such as teleporter support for your commander - is very useful, most of the time weapon upgrades don't seem to make much difference in combat. Stat progression too doesn't seem to provide much variety for your squads. After all, even though you're offered the choice to make your weak-armoured scout squad machine gun experts, anything other than investing in stealth stats is suicide.

It's a nice addition but it's not as good as it should've been. The biggest hiccup we have with the single-player game though is that the main campaign's structure eventually verges heavily into repetition. Mission deployments can be handled in any order you wish but each carries a similar structure; Ork slaughter-fests followed by a boss fight, 'defend this' setups, or a mix of the two.

[edit] System Requirements

OS: Windows XP SP2 or Windows Vista SP1OS: Windows XP SP2 or Windows Vista SP1
Processor: P4 3.2 GHz (single core) or any Dual Core processorProcessor: AMD Athlon 64x2 4400+ or any Intel Core 2 Duo
Memory: 1 GB RAM (XP), 1.5 GB RAM (Vista)Memory: 2 GB RAM (XP and Vista)
Graphics: A 128MB Video Card (Shader Model 3) - Nvidia GeForce 6600 GT / ATI X1600, or equivalentGraphics: A 256MB Video Card (Shader Model 3) - Nvidia GeForce 7800 GT / ATI X1900, or equivalent
Hard Drive: 5.5 GB of Hard Drive spaceHard Drive: 5.5 GB of Hard Drive space
Other Requirements: Online play requires log-in to Games For Windows - Live

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Last edited by Relmutsie AN on 25 March 2010 at 05:30
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