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Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II review

£34 inc VAT

Manufacturer: THQ

Our Rating: We rate this 4.5 out of 5

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II represents a return to form for the Dawn of War RTS franchise.

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II represents a return to form for the Dawn of War RTS franchise.

Along with its three expansion packs, the first Dawn of War was a great RTS title that gave players the ability to play almost all of the major races in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. But the game has grown a little stale, especially when compared to the developer's follow-up effort, Company of Heroes, a title that I reviewed a while back and absolutely loved.

I wasn't sure if Relic could top the World War II themed classic but Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II manages the impossible: the continuation of the Space Marines' saga usurps Company of Heroes and claims the RTS throne.

Welcome back to the Blood Ravens, Commander

Like the original, the single-player in Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II focuses on space marines of the Blood Ravens, one of the most respected chapters within the Imperium of Man.

The campaign takes place in sub-sector Aurelia which is comprised of the three worlds where the Blood Ravens gather their recruits - obviously this makes the area a critical stronghold.

As the campaign starts you assume the mantel of a newly promoted commander who is tasked with repelling the Orks; of course, the more you investigate, the more you realise that there is a much more serious threat behind the attacks. Involved are the mysterious Eldar as well as the Tyranid Hive Fleet, a ravenous alien race that poses a threat to Aurelia.

Much like the last two expansions for the original - Dark Crusade and Soulstorm - DoW II's campaign strays away from the standard RTS formula and includes a meta-campaign that focuses on story missions and side missions where you defend critical installations, gain valuable new war gear, and reduce Tyranid infestation levels on each of the three planets.

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Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II - recover the relics!

Although it does share some similarities with the original, Relic has largely gone back to the drawing board for Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II. They've done away with what many might consider some of the core tenants of the RTS genre, placing a much larger emphasis on the evolution of a core force.

Gone are the standard base building and unit creation concepts, replaced by four squads of Space Marines, each of which have unique skill sets and leaders which gain experience as the campaign progresses.

There's an RPG-lite system where you units accumulates experience for the kills they amass; they will periodically level up, increasing their attributes and unlocking new special abilities. They can also acquire special accessories such as melta-bombs and drop pods that they can use in combat.

There is a tremendous amount of variety when it comes to the make-up of your squad and it allows you to tailor your forces accordingly. You can, for instance, outfit your commander as a strong ranged fighter or turn him into a durable tank unit for close-quarters combat.

You won't be able to fully max out your squads over course of the campaign which automatically gives the game a tangible sense of replayability.

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Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II Expert Verdict »

Windows Vista SP1/XP SP 2
P4 3.2GHz (single core) or any dual core processor/AMD Athlon 64×2 4400+ or any Intel Core 2 Duo
1GB (Windows XP) 1.5GB (Windows Vista)
5.5GB hard disk space
128MB nVidia GeForce 6600 GT/128MB ATI X1600, or equivalent (must have Shader Model 3.0 to run the game)/256MB Nvidia GeForce 7800 GT/256MB ATI X1900, or equivalent
DirectX 9.0c compliant card
internet connection required for product activation and multiplayer
  • Overall: We give this item 9 of 10 overall

I have no doubt that Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II will be remembered fondly in the years to come. Relic has helped push the RTS genre into new directions and their latest effort represents the culmination of their work so far. Some gamers will no doubt hate the new direction they've taken but the game is much improved and definitely deserves its fair share of love. While it still early, I wouldn't hesitate to nominate it for PC Game of the Year honors come December.

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