Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II Reader Review
Company of heroes was one of my all time favourite games. It was my first experience of the frantic genre of RTS and it was incredibly satisfying flaying your opponents units with the appropriate nemesis unit. This game is by the same developers but is wrapped up in the Warhammer 40000 universe.
I had no prior knowledge of this franchise having neither played the first game in the series, nor any other Warhammer themed game. I must say I found the story quite engrossing and enjoyed the space marines overly earnest banter.
This game is very streamlined and lean in its design. Gone are the resource management and base building elements of company of heroes. In its place is a very enjoyable RPG mechanic whereby success in battles leads to the accumulation of XP which can be used to level up your characters and unlock special traits from a sort of tech tree. Loot drops can be used in battle or exchanged at the librarium for more XP.
Most levels see you dropped into an area and see you tasked with battling to the opposite corner of the map, where a boss character usually awaits. Your task is made easier by the capturing of strategic points which are usually heavily defended. You usually have the option of trying to capture foundries or religious buildings. Collection of all of these leads to an achievement unlock. Some levels see you charged with the defence of an important area against waves of enemies.
You could probably criticise the lack of variety in the mission types and the recycling of the same maps which begin to feel rather repetitive by the end of the campaign.
There is the option to play the campaign co-operatively, but disappointingly this can only be played with friends from your friends list rather than with randoms so it can be difficult to arrange a game. If you do want to delve online there is the co-operative ‘last stand’ mode whereby you form a team and try to survive waves of increasingly powerful enemies. You start off very underpowered and it feels a real come down starting off with a weedy character with no kit or powers after finishing the campaign. There are also the skirmish modes for adversarial multiplayer action but that sounded far too stressful for me.
Graphically the game is very pretty with some entertaining cut scenes. I found the cut scenes were badly affected by screen tear. Thankfully this did not transfer to the main game. It was very difficult to make out the cursor on some maps due to the environmental effects leading to some loss of control and some frustration.
It was irritating not being able to change the key bindings. I would really like to have changed the map controls to w,s,a,d, as navigating the map using the mouse felt rather haphazard and imprecise.
In summary this was an enjoyable, immediate and focused RTS with an interesting setting and a high level of polish. It was just a shame that the missions became a bit samey towards the end.