RTS games are coming by the bucket load these days, most of which are unoriginal and the same as the one released last Friday. Some RTS games however go a little further in an attempt to raise their heads above the crowd. Ground Control 2, Perimeter and Warcraft 3 are fine examples of RTS games that excel in almost every way. Dawn of war attempts to lift it's head up high but will it casually bob around like the last Games Workshop inspired game Firewarrior? To put it bluntly, no. Does Dawn of War take the RTS genre one step further? Oh yes.
Dawn of War is a Action/RTS PC game set in, well you guessed it the year 40,000. The events in the game take place on a planet called Tartarus that is under an invasion by Orks. For those who don't know about the WH universe Orks are simply an updated version of the classic Tolken Orcs, except they replace C's with K's and remind you of a group of drunk lager louts. Fortunately for the inhabitants of Tartarus the Space Marines have come to their rescue. The space marines, or more specifically the Blood Raven chapter, worship the all mighty emperor of mankind. The Player controls the Blood ravens as they attempt to wipe the planet of Ork infestation.
Unfortunately it's not only the Orks who are causing problems. Elders, a technologically advanced alien race and Chaos space marines (Marines who worship Chaos) are also on the planet causing huge amounts of trouble for the Ravens. I don't want to get onto specifics on the story as it is in my opinion one of the best parts of the game.
The story is however focused around a Marine Commander who is suffering from a dark past. The script is very well written and you actually care about the characters. Like other RTS games, Dawn of War has implemented a resource gathering system, thankfully though it is no were near as boring as other RTS games. Units, Buildings and
Vehicles all cost Requisition points. Requisition can be obtained by capturing strategic locations scattered around the levels and maps. Generators also need to be built to obtain power which is used for upgrades and buildings as well as some vehicles. Dawn of war relies on frontline combat though more than base building which gives the player some much needed intense action. By a simple click on the reinforcement button you can order extra troops for your squads who are currently engaged in combat. Units can also be given extra weapons to get tactical advantages over the enemy. As well as tactics and strategy, frontline combat makes up a large proportion of DOW'S gameplay.
Graphically DOW is brilliant, Units are very heavily detailed and are the spitting image of their table top model counterparts. The battle animations are possibly the best i have seen in anygame. Units will react to a single melee blow, artillery will send squads flying through the air, Marine Dreadnaughts will impale Orks on their arms. Yes this game is gory, but it looks so good.
The terrain looks rugged and bleak, the graphics engine has brought the destroyed cities to life. Explosions will cause craters, mangled bodies will spew blood all over the place, and thanks to a great 3d zoom function war never looked this good.
The single player weighs in at 11 missions, all played via the Space Marine perspective, whilst this does let the game down slightly I'm sure we can expect some race expansion packs. Multiplayer and skirmish mode however let you play as any race from the game. Marines, Elders, Orks and Chaos are all playable online and vary from each other in many different ways. The unit balancing is brilliant however, logically no race is better than another. It all depends on the players skills and playing style.
For example, some people prefer to play as the Space Marines and build up an army full of heavily armored soldiers. Some players however will play as orks, who's playing strategy is completely overwhelming the enemy in numbers alone. Marines have a squad cap of 20 were as the orks is 90. The more Orks a player controls, the more upgrades and stronger units can be purchased. Multiplayer is worth your purchase alone.
DOW sounds great, good voice acting and great ambiance create an atmosphere that is tense and exciting. Listening to a hoard of screaming orks getting mowed down by your heavy bolter equipped marine squad is just amazing. Some cut scenes are shown via FMV but the majority use the ingame engine, they work well and give you a good grape of your current situation.
Also, a special mention to the Army painter program which allows you to paint your own Army, you can also design their own banners and badges. this is a great feature for people who want to be original. It's also good for people who enjoy painting Warhammer models in the real world.
Dawn of War is a great game, not only will it appeal to RTS and Games Workshop fans but it will appeal to people who love action games. Strategy also plays an important part though. The singleplayer section may not be the longest gaming experience you've had but it will defiantly be the sweetest.
By Richard Thompson
Genre Breaking Gameplay
Great Multiplayer Mode
Multiplayer Very addictive
Army Painter is a nice feature
Singleplayer could of been a little bit longer
Game is slightly demanding
Lack of other playable races in SP is a letdown.
Multiplayer can be a little bit laggy