Review by kiriyama2

"Highly recommended for fans of the genre, and fans of the tabletop game"

I do not care for the RTS genre. In my opinion they are one of the most boring genre of games that I have ever played. Something about having to always harvest a crystalline substance, or worrying about some other resource always got on my nerves. That's not to say that there aren't the few games in the genre I like, I'm just saying for the most part I despise the genre with great intensity. Which is why I was really quite surprised when I played Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War.

Granted the game doesn't exactly stray greatly from the usual resource gathering from other RTS games. But this game does it in a way that is fun and doesn't detract from the overall battle oriented gameplay. Instead of just staying in just one area toiling away gathering gold or some unidentified crystals, you send out a squad of your near unstoppable Space Marines (or one of the other races, more on those in a bit) and take hold of a “control point.” A process that takes about ten to fifteen seconds, and then that's it, you're done. Capturing a control point you gain “requisition” (this game's currency) with which to make more units. You do not need to stick around and make sure your units are alive as they harvest requisition. Because after capturing a control point you build a listening post on it, and just rake in the requisition points to churn out more units. Besides a majority of the time the enemies are just keen to send out a portion of their forces at your forces instead of focusing on the minor post on the far end of the map.

One thing I despise about the RTS genre is the fact that if you send out a large portion of your forces only to find out that the opposing force had just been biding its time waiting for an ill-advised move like that and proceeds to steamroll over your base and cackles at your idiocy. Dawn of War rectifies this, sure it is not necessarily going to just sit around and oblige you in re-amassing your forces, but it doesn't just send out their army just to decimate you with murderous glee. It's difficult in the fact that you can't just send out a pair of squads with about ten marines in it and just take down every thing that had the misguided idea of not being born human and not worshipping the Emperor.

Another thing that I delight is the fact that there are no air units. I have nothing against using bombers to rain death upon the enemy's structures, but a lot of the time they are finicky little bastards that get destroyed by everything and their mother. On the flipside of that they are so damned immortal that nothing save for some unstoppable indestructible unit can destroy it only after arbitrarily filling that parameter. The vehicles they do give you are for the most part somewhat useful. The only vehicles I had any sort of problem with was the armored transport. You don't really need to use that unit at any point in the game. Also the artillery unit for the most part was rather useless. Perhaps it was just my copy but for some reason the blasted things would not fire where I told them to, and after one shot they never seemed to fire again. Also there was the land speeder unit which is not especially good in a fight as it gets destroyed too quickly. Outside of recon the unit really is useless.

Unfortunately the game is not perfect. There were times where my units would get stuck on random pieces of the terrain, regardless of whether or not I had any structures were built around the area. Or they would not acknowledge my orders to move to any piece of the map. There are also times where you'll complete a certain objective but the game won't recognize it for a few minutes.

A number of the gameplay quirks from the single player also translate over to the multiplayer. Units would more often than not get stuck on some piece of raised geography and wouldn't move for the rest of the match. This can be exacerbated if you have a team of tanks that you instruct to intercept the enemy but the one in the front gets stuck on a rock or knoll of grass and keep the other tanks from advancing and defending some part of your base. It's also an annoyance ordering your soldiers to attack a large enemy unit but they seem content with shooting a structure nowhere near their position.

Dawn of War includes four races, though only one of which is playable in the game's single player campaign. The races are the Space Marines, the heretical and cruel force of the Chaos Space Marines, the brutish and war obsessed Orks, and the Eldar, who are fundamentally the Protoss of this game. Each race has their own advantages, and are pretty evenly matched against the others. The Space Marines have thick armor and considerable armaments and are a fair bit tougher than some of the other races, and also they get mechs. The Chaos Marines while similar to their non-chaos contemporaries they have the advantage of being able to call forth demons and other monstrosities from the warp to aid their battles. Also their armor looks more badass than the Space Marines. On the other hand the Orks have the advantage of sheer brute force and overwhelming numbers on their side. They don't need all of this namby-pamby armor they just need a gun and a choppa and they're ready to make something bleed. Like the Space Marines the Orks get a mech, only it lacks the range attacks of the Marines' unit. Honestly, I never really played as the Eldar, they just looked unappealing to me, so I can't really comment on their units or how to effectively use them in battle. All I know about them is this, they have a giant ten foot tall aspect of their alien god so that's pretty neat.

The other races play almost exactly like the Space Marines, only with slight variations for the Orks. For the Orks in addition to requisition you need to increase the size of your WAAAAGH!, you do this by building more Waaagh! banners, and it's so you can get better Orkish units, like the ones with jetpacks. One thing that I thought was sort of neat was the way in which the game goes about building things. The Orks just fling out a ball of stuff that turns into the structure, whereas the Chaos Marines summon the buildings by chanting demonic spells. I don't know, I just enjoy them.

Graphically Dawn of War is magnificent. Granted they might look a bit dated compared to scores of other RTS games today (Supreme Commander, et cetera) this game really does look good. The sheer amount of carnage that its able to convey is really quite enjoyable. You can actually cause damage to the environments and leave large craters in streets and use them for cover, or leave the streets covered with the blood of your fallen adversaries. To put it mildly the game shows the carnage of large battles quite nicely, and in grim detail. Also you can zoom in the camera so far that it seems as though your just inches above the battle and have Ork, Chaos, or Eldar gore splatter the screen. Also there's the little details, such as seeing a commander's chainsword's blade rotating. Or there's also the fact that if you send in your mech (called Dreadnoughts by the by) and have it engage a grunt unit and he will slam his arm into the opposing soldier break him (complete with a nice little snap!) and he'll then discard the dead soldier before moving on. Another cool thing about the graphics is the fact that with explosions large patches of dirt will fly into the air along with whatever hapless enemy was in proximity.

Audiowise the game is decent, the weapons sound nice, and the explosions are adequate. The music is the epic style orchestral score that's a dime a dozen these days. Sure its sounds good, it's really just nothing worth any special note. Then there's the voice acting, for the most part it sounds pretty good. It's just that a number of the actors just sound really silly and out of place. The soldiers for the Space Marines have really deep sounding voice that sound almost like Darth Vader, and the Chaos guys sound suitably crazy. The Orks sound pretty good, and have an amusing little chant if you click on them enough.

So, what's the story of this game, I hear you asking. The game takes place on the Imperial world of Tartarus, where a bunch of Orks have decided to go in and wreck the place. You take command of a Space Marine chapter called the Blood Ravens and go to Tartarus and purge the Orkish hordes from the planet and save the people of Tartarus. Along the way you find out that the forces of Chaos are there and are searching for an old daemonic artifact, and the Eldar are really only there to kill everyone else involved. The story's decent, but not exactly the greatest to grace gaming.

In short, I really liked this game, I consider it to be one of the better RTS games out there. I realize that it's simply a matter of preference, but it fixes a number of problems that plague the genre and really stands out. The game also has a decent length, each mission takes about forty minutes to an hour to complete. The multiplayer and skirmish mode will no doubt have you coming back to the game a number of times after completing the campaign mode. I heartily recommend that people pick this game up, even those who don't like the genre.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 07/07/08

Game Release: Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War (US, 09/20/04)

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