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Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War (Windows)

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Written by  :  jaXen (20046)
Written on  :  Jan 08, 2008
Rating  :  4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars

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Summary

Fast and furious

The Good

Everyone knows the so-called RTS-games where one harvest resources for a long time, build up an army for another long time and fight a short battle. Well, Dawn of War is different, very different. There is no phase of resource gathering, the two available resources are harvested all the time. The energy resource is produced by generators, which you can build, and to produce the requisition resource you have to conquer strategic points on the game map. Of course your opponent want to conquer the strategic points too, so you have to keep your opponent under pressure to secure your income. Another aspect of this fast game is that infantry troops consists of up to eight single soldiers. A new recruited troop contains only half of the possible soldiers, the missing soldiers are recruited on the battlefield. Even if you suffer losses you can recruit new soldiers on the battlefield (of course only as long as the troop exists). By the way: Other games have a queue for the production of units, Dawn of War has also a queue for research and equipment.

Equipment is the catchword for the next section: The unit management. As I already wrote, you can enforce your infantry units on the battlefield. But that's not everything, you also can add one of three different support units to your infantry squads, a sergeant (for most of the different infantry types) and also new weapons. Everything on the battlefield, even during a battle! Some units can only have stronger weapons (like the replacement of the “normal” cannons of the Predator tank with laser cannons), while other units can be equipped with different weapons. Let me give you an example of the weapon equipment. The normal Space Marine Squad just have bolters (some kind of machine gun), which is effective against infantry. By spending some resources you can change up to four bolters to other weapons like the heavy bolter (much more effective against infantry), flame thrower (damages moral), rocket launcher (good in killing vehicles) and plasma guns (good against heavy infantry). What kind you weapon you purchase is your choice, for each unit. All infantry units have beside the hit points a moral. If the moral drops to zero, the troop will try to escape the battle. I guess it is needless to tell you that there are weapons and units which effect the moral. The army is split into two parts: Infantry and vehicle. Each unit costs an amount of troop points (e.g. The Space Marine Squad will cost you two infantry points), if you have not enough points to buy a new unit, you are not able to increase your army. That's a way to prevent player from just building a large army instead of using a tactic. And that also influences the multi player games. Will you buy the Space Marine Squads for two points each for the Terminators for four points each? It is normal for modern RTS that you have one or more heroes during the campaign. And so you have them in Dawn of War, too. As always, the heroes are strong, but not all killing gods. Very good (and relaxing too): The heroes have some kind of immortality. If they become killed in battle, they will arrive in your base a few seconds later. No more Mr. X has to survive mission goals, great.

What more is to say? Well, Relic Entertainment included a feature that is miss in nearly every RTS: Your units can move and fire at the same time, even in different directions. Or on different targets. Like the units in StarCraft the one in Dawn of War comment your orders or report enemy attacks. Sometimes they have a very strange opinion of the world. The graphic is excellent. Indeed the environment looks very barren, but the battles are wonderful. Flying bullets, laser beams cross the battlefield and all figures have some close combat animations. Great: Incoming artillery shells do not just drain hit points from the units, soldiers are also thrown through the air and become thrown to the ground. But really great are the battles of big units like the Dreadnought against infantry. These big units are able of close combat (and some of them have also close combat weapons!) and they will punch / kick the smaller soldiers.

The last entry on the good list is the AI, because:
  • Units step out of the way if they block the way of other allied units
  • The opponent AI attacks you from different directions and uses different units

The Bad

The AI is also the first entry in the bad list, because:
  • Sometimes enemy units broke off the attack, without any reason.
  • A few times enemy units do nothing, they just stand in the middle of the battlefield and wait for Godot.


For me all the major disadvantages are part of the story or it's presentation. The first fact is that there are four different races, but there is only a campaign for the Space Marines. Why that? Why not playing the elder, which a similar task like the Space Marines? Why just fighting one race after another? First I slay Orcs, then I displace the Eldar and in the end there are some battles against the Chaos Space Marines. But there is no mission where I have to survive against two opponents or three. The story is told with the game graphic, that is OK. But not OK are the big, fat, black bars on the bottom and the top of the screen. What should that be? Some kind of 16:9 cinematic presentation? It just looks ugly! Very disappointing is the end of the story. Or should I say the maybe end of the story? You won all 11 missions and that did you see in the outro? Just a cliffhanger, no real end for the battle. 11 missions are a strange number. Was a twelfth mission planned but not finished?

The Bottom Line

If I would just have a single sentence here, it would be: A great and fast strategy game with some problems in the storyline. Lucky me, I have more space. So I can write that Dawn of War has a new and very interesting scope on infantry battles, a damn fast resource gathering phase and also some spectacular battles. The campaign itself is, well, not so good. A better story or more enemies would be nice. Using this game in multi player is great, again the game is fast and allows you more than one battle per evening (in contrast to the table top game Warhammer 40.000).