First Look: Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II

The first Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War re-invented the real-time strategy genre, making what was becoming a stale and dull game type into something fun again. It reduced the scale of the battles to a more intermediate level, with detailed models and some stunning visual effects this made for a much more engaging experience. The method of controlling your forces also greatly helped to the enjoyment of the game, by giving you control of groups of units instead of individuals it was possible to formulate much better strategies than in other R.T.S games, such as Command and Conquer. Relic, the developer, was quick to follow up this new formula with the Company of Heroes franchise but now they’ve returned to the game that started it all. Obviously, the game is set in the Warhammer 40k universe and, as before, you can play as the Space Marines, the Orcs and the Elders; the sequel also adds a new race, the Tyramids, which if I remember correctly are the “Alien” type chaps.

With the release of Dawn of War II just round the corner, THQ has decided to open up a multiplayer beta (in other words a demo) of the game, presumably to start-up the game’s hype machine. And if the beta represents the final game accurately (and it should), Dawn of War II is definitely going to be worth getting. As expected, the gameplay remains the same as before; why change something that isn’t broken? The visuals have greatly improved; stunning particle effects, detailed character models and terrain, and an excellent draw distance really make Dawn of War II look fantastic and this is only for the multiplayer! There’s also a pretty awesome intro video…

The beta only allows online competitive play, broken down into Team Battles (3 Vs. 3) or Head to Head game modes, but the final game will have co-op throughout the entire campaign which is extremely unusual for this type of game.

Dawn of War II also supports Game for Windows Live, Microsoft’s attempt to put Xbox Live on a PC. The final game will have achievements (which I’m rather addicted to) and also Player Matchmaking. What this means is that you don’t need a degree in Computer Science to figure out how to get into an online game, you simply start the matchmaking and the game will put you in the best possible lobby. In theory this is great, however, currently the beta seems to have some issues; it takes far too long to get into a game and sometimes nothing happens at all. Hopefully this will be greatly approved on in the final version of the game.

Dawn of War II looks to take the original and just improve it in every way, which makes me rather excited!


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