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Dawn of War 2 - Lackluster

Updated on March 2, 2009
At least the concept art was done well.
At least the concept art was done well.

“In the grim darkness of the far future there is only war!”

Dawn of War II is a sequel of sorts to the Dawn of War game, developed by Relic and produced by THQ. In a nutshell, the game is a RTT (Real Time Tactics) that doesn’t really have too much to do with the original Dawn of War game and expansions. But of course, I’m not just going to write a one sentence review. So, why have I rated this game with “lackluster”? Read on!

For the Pigeon-Emperor!
For the Pigeon-Emperor!

A Game, by Any Other Pigeonhole, would Play as Sweet...

The pigeonholing committee failed when they categorized the game as a “RTS” (Real Time Strategy). The game, as it turns out, is more Real Time Tactics than anything else. In case you are not an avid video-game-historian, the first significant RTT approach to war games has been around since the beginning of the millennia with the Total War series.

Even a space marine has to... read.
Even a space marine has to... read.

Once Upon a Time, A Space Marine...

A storyline can truly distinguish a barely playable game and a spectacular one, and I commend the writers of the Dawn of War II production team for putting forth the effort of at least giving Dawn of War II a chance in my eyes. The writers captured the Warhammer 40k universe in great detail, awesomely portraying the hectic and cyberpunk atmosphere. The voice actors also did an amazing job of bringing the characters to life.

Micro Management Done Right

The difference between a Real Time Strategy/Tactics gamer who plays like he’s a blind infant without fingers versus a intermediate player is good micromanagement. This is true for C&C, Red Alert, Dawn of War I. Button mashing or sending your troops en masse simply is cruelly crude to any skilled player’s eyes. In Dawn of War II, there are three relatively unique commanders per race, which puts the number of effective races to 12 and the squad based system that introduces a massive amount of abilities based on the commanders take the micromanagement to another level of art form - however, my commendations stop here.

No Medal for Poorly Reused Ideas

I like to compare the video game development process to cooking - the ingredients are all there, just mix them differently and you have a new video game. Dawn of War II’s single player campaign is, in short, Diablo II in disguise -the developers even added in the RPG (Roleplaying Game) aspect to it. The cover system has been done before: Dawn of War II mixes automated squad locations for cover and intense micromanagement where the AI’s idea of cover is about as consistent as a runny nose simply doesn’t work. The open metamap has been around for so long that I feel the game developers are getting lazy. The interface is intuitive enough, but lacks innovation. The intercom from intel from the main Space Marine ship is just copy and pasted from Metal Gear Solid, and even the minimalistic approach to base building has been done for nine years. Dawn of War II is not innovative, it just mixes old ideas together poorly.

Need I say more?
Need I say more?

Repeating Repetitive Repetition

After playing the game for FOUR hours, I refused to play the single player campaign anymore. The so-called bonus objectives on the campaign metamap requires the players to visit the same map more than once,. This is the most weasel move a level-designer can make to artificially lengthen the game-play time. The Tomb Raider franchise is famous for doing so with the “two buttons on opposite sides of the map to open one gate” system, but in Dawn of War II everything is already on the map, taking even the challenge of alt-tabbing to away.

The repetition onto the same map twice is barely tolerable, but so far I’ve only encountered 6 different maps: a true sign that Relic needed more people on the map design team. Hey Relic, two dozen texture-mapping-monkeys are not enough to write maps! Hire some people for the Emperor’s sake. [Note: the four maps are spectacular in detail though, but a fan could probably make the same map in about 3 days, by himself, while distracted by his mother yelling from the living room into the basement.]

Let the kitten tell you how I feel about Dawn of War II.
Let the kitten tell you how I feel about Dawn of War II.

Thumbs “So-so”

I recommend this game only to the fans of Warhammer 40k or the original Dawn of War. Oh, and the adrenalin junkies who love player verses player might want to check this game out too: the multiplayer is the only field this game shows promise. Pray to Relic and THQ that there will be a modding community to make more maps though. To the regular gamers: the lack of vicissitude from this cookie cutter RTS/RTT games is not worth the money or even the time I took to look up “vicissitude.” Dawn of War II is a Misnomer - Dawn of War II? There is no Dawn, just stale and poorly implemented ideas. Perhaps they should have called it Noon or Evening of War.


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