Review by Wist

Reviewed: 12/24/05

An impressive addition to an already awesome game

Introduction:
When I wrote this review I am assuming you've never played Dawn of War before so brace yourself for a plethora of information. If you are interesting in just the information on what is new then I suggest you read the last paragraph of gameplay and all the following sections. Warhammer is a real time strategy that focuses on military dominance to achieve a superior economy. Sounds a bit confusing? Well it is kinda confusing and its something you have to try out to completely understand. In the end, it is a very, very fun game that I guarantee will impress you and leave you wanting more at the same time.

Gameplay:
Do you love mech warriors? Do you love space marines? Do you love watching a dozen enemies fly back with a swing of a mech's arm and charge back for more only to find out that the mech will pick them up individually and squeeze them to death? Yes, this game is a bit gorey and when I say gorey I mean totally sweet.

Basically its your standard real time strategy game with a barracks that build infantry, armory upgrades units, etc. However, there are two resources: energy and requisition. Energy is easy to obtain. Just simply build plasma generators. Requisition is the neat feature. On a standard map there are about a dozen or so strategy points. You have to send a squad of infantry to capture it and then the point is yours. This gains you requisition. You can build upon the strategy points to better fortify it and gain more requisition. However, you cannot build near strategy points without a listening post. There is an area in which you can only build. This prevents someone from cutting the map in half at the start with defense and forcing them to grow from a single base.

Another neat feature is morale. Some units have 2 bars. A health bar that obviously tells how much health the unit has and the other for morale. Whenever a unit is under heavy fire, taking a lot of casualties or have a lack of support they will panic and lose morale. This will cause them to fight ineffectively, not fight at all, or run. Some units in the game do not have morale though such as Mechs and tanks. Also, when you build infantry, you do not build them one at a time. You build a squad of infantry. Once again, Mechs are different and are built one at a time.

A lot of things in the game are customizable. For example, when you build a squad it is nowhere near its full strength and potential. You can reinforce the squad and add additional units (and continue through battle just in case one dies), you can add a leader, attach hero type units, and customize what type of weapons you want the squad to carry. Facing a lot of infantry? Then a flamethrower might help or a Bolter. Facing a lot of vehicles? Then maybe some rocket launchers might help. That is the coolest part of the game. You cannot build 10 mechs and plan to dominate the map with it! You need infantry to gain points and the game is very rock, paper, scissors that you need a well rounded army to win.

So what is new in the expansion? Basically there is now a fifth civilization. Yep, you guessed it... the imperial guard. Honestly, I have to admit I hated the imperial guard at first due to their weak infantry units, but they quickly turned into my favorites after a while. One reason why: defense. The imperial guard is very unique. Their main infantry unit is Guardsmen. If you played the campaign for the original you are already familiar with them. You might already hate them too. But trust me, they serve a purpose! You can garrison units inside buildings with the imperial guard. Almost all of them! Garrison a squad of Guardsmen inside a fortified strategy point and they'll fire out of it. Another neat feature similar to the Eldar: units can quickly transfer between buildings through tunnels. How does this work? Simply garrison a unit. Go to the destination building, click the unit and in a few seconds that unit is now garrisoned there wherever that may be. They also do not have an attachable hero unit. They have a special squad called a Commander Squad that fights independently. It starts out with just a general and you can add different units such as a Priest, Comissar, and/or a Psyker. You can also independently build these units for infantry squads. Each has its own benefits such as the Comissar doesn't allow infantry to get demoralized (very helpful with the Guardsmen) and the Priest has a health bonus to all the units. I also noticed some differences they made to certain civilizations. Some things aren't customizable anymore and just come standardly outfitted with beast weaponry and some things are cheaper, etc.

Story:
The story was neat but I was dissapointed.. again. Thank goodness that that is not what I truly wanted out of this game. This time around they had two campaigns. Yep, an improvement... or was it? It tricked you, there are only 5 missions in each campaign. Also, I do not really see a relation with Dawn of War and there are no repeat characters (but some reused graphics such as the Chaos Lord and Sorcerer) unless I am missing something. Despite all that, the campaign is somewhat neat and interesting. It is A LOT more action packed than the first. Its more take what units you have and follow this linear path of story and win rather than build a base and vanquish everything like the first. Some very neat levels that involve a lot of action, units and death.

Sound:
Interesting to say the least. Realistic too as I assume. The sounds of artillery blasting away, lasers fire across the battlefield, marines yelling commands, screams of pain and death. I'd say it was a job well done. The music is quite fitting too. I noticed it had heroic music at appropriate time and slow and eerie music when those times were appropriate as well. My only beef with the sound is that I find the builder unit for the Imperial Guard extremely annoying.

Graphics:
Ah, very nice. Everything looks as it should. The battlegrounds are very nice and you can tell they put a lot of time into making the battlegrounds appear like a post apocolyptic planet with craters, broken buildings, mounds and heaps of rubble. I also like the snow type terrain, which I guess is a big feature for this game. It adds a lot of environment type feel to the game. I also noticed during the campaign that there are a lot more scenic areas which they did on purpose. One that caught my attention was running across a bridge with a battle between Chaos and Imperial Guard fighting in the background. As for animations it was very well done too. My favorite feature by far is the attacks some units do. For example, mech warriors for the Space Marines might swing and hit many units back, pick up enemies and crush them in the air, and pick up individual units and throw them. Even the space marines will sometimes kill an enemy with a melee weapon and throw the enemy down and pull the melee weapon from out of them. You get the idea.

Flaws:
Hmm.. flaws. The short campaign again? I guess that was a problem. Not too big of a problem if you ask me. Multiplayer and skirmish mode can satisfy my hunger for more Warhammer if needed.

Replayability:
Let's just say this will satisfy your multiplayer needs for a long, long time.

Conclusion:
What an awesome game. This definitely goes down in my books as one of the coolest games let alone of the best real time strategy games I've ever played. It is right up there with Starcraft, Warcraft series, Age of Empires series and Command and Conquer Series. It might even be BETTER than some of those. So in conclusion: Awesome game? Yes. Expansion? Got to have it.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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