Review by Ramza FFT

Reviewed: 12/10/05

Strategizing Warhammer Style

Warhammer 40,000 Dawn of War is the latest example of a tabletop board game gone videogame. Making the videogame a RTS makes perfect sense considering the amount of strategy required in the board game. So how does the translation fare? Well, very good to say the least.

Story - The Warhammer universe is among my favorites for fantasy settings. The game takes place in the far future where all that is taking place is all out war between four factions. These include the Chaos Space Marines, Orks, (traditional) Space Marines, and the Eldar. In Dawn of War, the player takes control of the Blood Ravens, a faction within the Space Marines. The storyline starts out with the blood Ravens being deployed to a planet in order to stop an Ork invasion. Later it is discovered that the Chaos Space Marines are also there searching for a lost relic that hold great power. What does it mean for not only the planet but for the very existence of the four factions? Why have the Eldar mysteriously shown up? They only thing disappointing about the story is that you only get to play as the Space Marines, cutting short the perspectives of the other factions, as well as the length of the game. That being said, the storyline is well written and will keep players engaged till the end.

Gameplay - Warhammer puts the strategy back into RTS. Instead of being able to sit back and mass units for one large assault (or the opposite: rushing), players must explore the map with their units and take over strategic points located throughout the map. These points allow for more resource requisition, and the ability to make some of the strongest units in the game. So in other words, players must be actively trying to seize control of the map or else they will probably lose. This was an aspect of the game that I thoroughly enjoyed, along with the gameplay in general, the game is just plain fun to play.

Another gameplay mechanic that is introduced in Dawn of War is morale. Each organic unit has a meter of morale. When it is high, the group can fight very efficiently. When the morale drops, the group becomes quite ineffective in battle and must retreat, because they will get owned otherwise. Having a hero unit around can help keep the morale of your troops high even in sticky situations.

Like with most other RTS games you have your standard base and unit building trees. Once you complete building a unit (infantry comes in groups, while vehicles are built solo), the group or single unit can then be upgraded with technology researched. For example, if you research heavy weapon upgrades, your group of marines can now be fitted with machine guns, over the standard weapon they come with. Another example would be fitting your mech vehicles with laser cannons. This idea isn’t necessarily new, but it is executed well in Dawn of War and just helps to show how polished the game really is.

Graphics - Dawn of War shows off some of the best graphics yet seen on the PC as far as RTS games are concerned. Each unit and building is crisp and richly textured, right down to the blemishes on their armor. The maps are diversified, large, and well planned out. And most importantly the game captures the essence of the world of Warhammer 40,000.

Sound - This was an area of Dawn of War that I wasn’t entirely impressed with. The voice acting was spotty for the most part. The background music wasn’t bad but it didn’t seem to have enough variety. The sound effects, however, were quit amazing from laser cannons to rockets exploding, building being razed and units dieing, the sound effects of Dawn of War were great.

Overall - Dawn of War is a standout in the sea of PC RTS games. The creators of this game seemingly crafted a perfect game for the Warhammer 40,000 universe. My only gripes for this game come from the audio department and the length of the single player campaign. But through online and skirmish play, the game has plenty of replay value. Overall, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War deserves a 9/10.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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