“For the emperor!” my Force Commander lets out a yell as he lays the smackdown on a bunch of helpless orks. The Orks try to retaliate but are no match for my Space Marines who proceed to turn the ugly greenskins into red paint. I was barely a minute into the game when I was swarmed by several squads of Orks, who tried to overwhelm me with their numbers. However, they stood no chance as my Space Marines cut through them with superior weaponry, armor and sheer awesomeness.
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II continues the story of the Blood Ravens Chapter of the Space Marines. When a massive Tyranid hive fleet threatens to consume the three planets of sub-sector Aurelia, the Blood Ravens go to the rescue. Throw in the Orks who are just around for the pure joy of battle and the sinister Eldar who wish to manipulate the orks for their own agenda and you get a four-way epic blood fest.
DoW2 is essentially an RTS game but the focus has shifted from building bases and resource management to tactical combat. Relic Entertainments has stripped away the standard RTS play style and turned it into something else. You will no longer have to worry about managing unit production and upgrading your troops. Instead, you will just be in charge of the battles.
Pew pew laser beams!
The battles are gory and intense. You get to control four squads of Space Marines out of the six you have. Depending on the mission briefing, you will have decide which squads are best suited for ass-kicking.
My favorite is the Dreadnought which will only be available at the later levels. The Dreadnought is a hulking walking tank which lays waste to anything foolish enough to get in its way. Depending on the weapon loadout, the Dreadnought can be a long range assault-cannon toting ownage machine or a megaton-punching melee badass. There is hardly anything more gratifying then watching your Dreadnought pick up an enemy, rip him to ribbons and then fling him fifty feet away.
Items called Wargear are dropped by enemy units and are also available as rewards for completing missions. Like a typical RPG, you can level-up your Space Marines and equip your squads with Wargear. Wargear includes weapons like Plasma Cannons, armor and accessories. There are hundreds of wargear for you to collect which no doubt you will enjoy doing. How can you not love a weapon called Neverending Hail of Devastation? Seriously, it exists and once you get it you will never put it down.
That being said, there are only three or four maps per planet and the missions tend to be repetitive. There are two mission types which make up the most of the game. The most common one requires you to fight from one end of the map to the other, cutting a swath of destruction as you make your way to the objective. The other type is the defense missions where you defend your base from waves of increasingly potent waves of enemies.
Multiplayer is a totally different story. Instead of being limited to just the Space Marines, you get to play as the Orks, Eldar or Tyranids. There is no base-building and you gather resource by capturing strategic points and defending them. The population cap is 100, so you need to choose your units carefully.
Defend the Army
In case you are wondering, no you cannot import your squads from single-player mode to multiplayer. That simply screams IMBA! There is an upgrade system implemented in which you choose which weapons and armor to give your units. There is also the army painter in which you can create a zebra-themed Ork army to charge into battle.
Dawn of War II is truly a dramatic departure from the standard RTS-styled games. Despite the repetitive missions, Relic Entertainment has managed to churn out yet another game worthy of the name.
The Good: Great graphics and animations; fast and hard-hitting action; co-op campaign
The Bad: Repetitive missions
The Ugly: Orks, need I say more?
Bottomline: Although the missions are repetitive, the action-packed missions and gory battles more than make up for it.
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