Warhammer 40,000 – Dawn of War

What’s that? A bloody good game based on Warhammer 40,000? Are you sure? Well, wonders never cease…

It’s true. I’ve just finished playing the beta version of Warhammer 40,000 – Dawn of War… and by jove it’s good. Bit tricky to play on a laptop with just a touchpad, but damn good none the less!

It’s about time that the Warhammer 40,000 franchise had a decent computer game. It’s one of the richest fantasy worlds since Tolkien came up with Middle Earth. The back history is exceptionally compelling; the story of a massive yet fragile Imperium of Man that stretches far across the Galaxy – and of the Alien races that it rages constant war with. As the line goes: “in the grim darkness of the far future this is only war”.

On the surface, the game itself seems a pretty standard RTS. Be thankful they didn’t go for a turn-based game like the table-top game. That would’ve been a disaster. By going realtime, the game is far more exciting and faster to play. There are a few neat tricks to it though.

Graphically the game is gorgeous. Everything is in complete 3D. You can zoom right in on an individual trooper if you want and marvel at how detailed he is. Explosions and weapon effects have a good feel to them – you can really appreciate the rain of fire tearing through an enemy squad when your Space Marine Heavy Weapon Squad let loose a volly.

A fairly novel difference to most RTS games is the resourcing aspect. To gain more resources for building more troops or getting upgrades you must capture and hold onto sections of the game map. These are either “Strategic” points (run-of-the-mill areas that it’s good to control) or “Critical” points. Critical points tend to be the basis for some mission objectives.

There are four races available in the full game: Space Marines, Orks, Eldar and Chaos. Only the Marines are available to play as in the demo. Space Marines are the finest troops of the Imperium; genetically modified, heavily armed and armoured. They have the most balanced and versatile troops and heaps of killer vehicles. The Space Marine Dreadnought is absolutely lethal against most troops and vehicles. Space Marines also tend to not run away much – another vital aspect in the game.
Orks fight in huge mobs and use low-tech weapons salvaged from scrap left on battlefields. Ork tactics tend to be to grind the opponent down with wave after wave of troops, backed up by their “Big Gunz”.
Eldar are Elves in space. Highly advanced technology but not many of them around to use it. The Eldar have tend to use fast troops that hit hard then get away before you can retaliate properly. They can also upgrade squads to specific tasks such as close combat or ranged fighting.
Chaos are the real baddies of the game. The legions of Chaos are Imperial troops seduced by the Gods of Chaos. As such, they fight much like the Space Marines but with one big difference – Daemons!

I’ll stop rabbiting on now. I’ve already gone into far more detail than I planned to! This has turned into a mini-review… Suffice to say that I’ll be going out later today to buy the full version of the game.

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