Review by Psalm51

"Hard core or casual gamer, this is the game you will want to play"

Sure, I can be a little late to the party, but I get there in the end! What am I referring to, you ask? Well, I have just played and completed Dawn of War, Relic's epic "RTS of the year" from 2004. While others are playing games from 2007 and 2008, here I am playing ye olde games from 4 years ago. To explain, my PC gaming rig is no monster and thus I enjoy playing older games, as they run smoothly and all patches for the games have been released, a real plus in my book. Dawn of War is the thirteenth game I have completed this year but I don't regard that as an unlucky event as I still have Winter Assault and Dark Crusade waiting in the wings to be played. Yep, Relic know their stuff and I have enjoyed playing and beating Dawn of War.

Introduction - The Warhammer universe has only occasionally been rendered in computer games. Given that there are many folk who enjoy reading Warhammer books and playing the table-top games then basing a game on this world was a no-brainer. To get it wrong would be criminal but Relic Entertainment did not do that but served up a high quality RTS that pretty much anyone can enjoy. The game plays out over 11 missions and tells the story of folk dabbling in things they should have left alone and so on; you know the type of thing. The intro FMV is one of the best in the business and acts as a benchmark that others should use to compare their intro FMV's with. Visceral is the word; short, punchy and sets the scene nicely. You just know that there is going to be an abundance of hard-hitting action and you ready yourself as soon as the FMV finishes. On...to battle...

Gameplay - 9 out of 10. Pretty much spot on. Think of the Command and Conquer style of play and you won't be far wrong. It is all about base building, taking and controlling requisition points and then dominating the battlefield. The normal level of difficulty is just that so RTS veterans should opt for a harder level of difficulty from the outset. This game is certainly not one of the harder ones to beat, but then again, who wants to play games that are really tough to beat? Not me. Levels are large and early exploration and pushing forward with your initial units is always rewarded. I guess that you could hold back and build up a big force before taking the battle to the enemy, but that is not my style. I like to push and probe early on and try to get the feel of where everything is. I liked the gameplay on offer here and I think you will too.

Story - 8 out of 10. So, you want a story, do you? Others don't, but you do! Being sniffy are you? The subject of stories in computer games is a huge one. Some care little about the story while others want more. Something we all agree on is that the gameplay has to be good, but story often comes a long way back in the queue. Rhianna Pratchett, ex reviewer for PC Zone magazine, reports that the story followed in a game is often only poorly developed until the game proper is well on the way to being ready. Apparently, script and story writers can be "parachuted" in near the end of the development phase and have to work hard to pull game elements together. Anyway, the story in Dawn of War is above par and is delivered through in-engine cut-scenes. Initially, these are short but get quite long as the game ends. Job well done here too.

Graphics/Sound - 8 out of 10. The ending credits; do you watch them? I did and I noticed one persons name there - Jeremy Soule. I think that I am right in saying that Jeremy Soule has done alot of music work for Bioware (in Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights games) and is regarded as an industry giant in the area of music in games. In other words, the music in Dawn of War is top notch. Sound work is above reproach although there is a general absence of ambiant and background noises. So, top marks for sound and music. Graphics are what I would describe as "fit for purpose." Some have criticised the level geography for being a little bland. It is, but this serves the game well as a feeling of an abandoned world permeats the levels and story. Special mention goes to the explosions and it is true to say that Relic give you eye-candy explosions to watch. Play the game and have your eyes made love to as everything goes bang nicely!

Play Time/Replayability - 8 out of 10. Some might regard Dawn of War as a shortish game. With 11 missions to play and the time per mission running at 3 hours, just do the maths and see what you think. As mentioned in the third paragraph, RTS veterans should select one of the harder difficulty settings while those of us less able gamers can stick with the normal difficulty setting. Replay it? As there are 3 expansions released for Dawn of War, I don't think there is much point in replaying the game. The last 2 expansions are thought to be bigger games than the original so you will have your work cut out just to beat all 4 games in the Dawn of War series!

Final Recommendation - 8 out of 10. If you are reading my review, then you are reading about a 4 + year old game and have probably heard about it already. You might have spotted the game on sale for a few pounds or bucks and may have missed it the first time round. Or, you might have spotted a combo pack of Dawn of War games and wonder whether it/they are worth buying. The simple answer is YES. You don't even need to like RTS games that much to enjoy Dawn of War. The story is fine, the music great and the explosions are the best in the business. And you get to play as the Space Marines... What more do you want?


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/31/08

Game Release: Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War (Game of the Year) (EU, 09/23/05)


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