Tartarus. On your journey you happen to bump into the Eldar's who are also on the same planet to investigate the sinister happenings. This however is not a friendly meeting as you wil kill the Eldar which sparks off a conflict between the two factions. While all this is happening Chaos are working their plans in the background. As you can tell things get interesting as you, the Space Marines are pitted against the games three other factions.
As you would imagine most of the missions involve building a base, increasing the size of your army and developing new weapons, then setting off to kill anything that comes into sight. As a result the game is quite predictable and linier. If you have ever played any RTS game before you will probably find the going nice and easy on the normal difficulty level. The best bits of Dawn of War come in the story line and the battles.
The story is told through various characters within the Space Marines faction which is interpreted through cut-scenes. The dialogue is pretty good and the story unfolds nicely and after the first couple of missions things start to get interesting. The cut-scenes on the other hand could be better. Rather than using hi quality rendered video clips like the introduction to the game, Dawn of War renders the characters through the same engine that powers the game. This is ok, but it could have been better, some of the movement when characters turn to talk to one and other is shocking and it doesn't replicate the great animation of the characters within the game itself.
The battles in the game virtually always revolve around capturing strategic points. Once you have captured a point you will be able to see that portion of the map. If you choose to build a listening post on your strategic point you will also be able to build on that portion of land immediately around the strategic point. The main reason you will need to capture strategic points is to gain a steady flow requisition points. Requisition points are can be used to purchase new buildings, infantry, units and upgrades. Capturing a strategic point can be done with most of you infantry, but while your squad is busy capturing a point they will be left vulnerable for a number of seconds. So if a point is being heavily guarded it is always better to take a couple of more teams to protect your vulnerable team.
If you have ever played any of the command and conquer series you will know that when you build infantry they are all individually controllable and you have the option to create a squad. In Dawn of War all your infantry units are team based, so when you create infantry you will get four units that can only be moved as a squad. Each squad is completely independent, so if you wish to reinforce a squad you can, usually up to a number of eight or nine. Then you can reinforce the next squad and so on. Upgrades work in the same way, each squad will have a selection of upgrades available. You can choose to have a mixture of different weaponry in each squad or you can just give each squad on type of weapon. For example you can choose to arm all of one particular squad with missile launchers, so when some heavy artillery comes your way you can move the squad armed with missile launchers into action.
As you develop technology you will be able to add commanders to each of your infantry squads which has to great advantages. A commander will make your squad more powerful and as a result their energy levels will take longer to go down in battle. Secondly your commander can give your squad a moral boost. This is a separate energy bar to the health bar, once the moral bar is depleted you squad can break up and become easy pickings for the enemy. So if you appear to be loosing a battle and the moral is low your commander can shout some stuff and give your squad a well needed boost of moral.
All squads of infantry and units can be told how to attack and defend and weather they do attack or defend. Firstly you tell your squad or unit to either be defensive or be attacking in battle. These commands are classed as hold the lines, attack, or cease fire stance among others. Then you can select how the squad or unit will fight at long range combat or close combat. This is all good stuff because depending on which weaponry your squad has you can make a decision, for example if you have a squad that carries missile launchers you would want this squad to be attacking from range. Where as if you have a squad armed with saws and close range weaponry you would want them to go and get stuck in at close range.
Once you get into battle this is where all your strategically skills come into play. You need to act fast and be ready for more waves of enemies to strike at any time. Even though you will have access to very impressive machinery towards the end of each mission you will still need your infantry, you will not find yourself replacing all your infantry with armoured vehicles as your infantry are always useful and the infantry have the added bonus of being able to reinforce the squad during battle in the event that you loose some members. Dawn of War also limits you to how many infantry and unit you can have at anyone time, this means you have to be very careful to build a well rounded number of infantry squads.
The battles in Dawn of War are absolutely brutal, it's great to see your men ripping the enemy to pieces. The Space Marines have one particular unit that walks on two legs and is armed with cannon, flame thrower and its huge claws. Once this baby gets into battle you start to see blood fly at it picks up enemy soldiers and squashes them in its claws. It's a great piece of animation. Some of the enemies you will come across have some very strange monsters that look like something Satan has taken from the Jurassic period. Battles are usually fairly short lived and action pack while they last, but it won't be long until you find some more enemies to gun down. The Orks look great you can see their axes being swung around and their red tuft of hair flopping around in the middle of the action. I actual fact all the units are highly detailed and animated beautifully, you won't be disappointed.
Dawn of War also supports LAN and online play which features a player matching system which lets you get into the online action nice and gently.
That great thing about the online play and multiplayer games is that you get to control some massive monstrosities in the other faction's armies. Its just more of what you want, seeing your massive monster trample all over the enemy.
As this game is was designed by Games Workshop you would expect to be able to paint your own faction in what ever colours you like, well you can. If it suits you, you can site and paint you troops and units until your hearts content.
Warhammer 40,000 Dawn of War is a great game, it makes a great change from all the other RTS games on the market at the moment. The game play focuses on outsmarting and outwitting your enemy, the speed of the game makes sure you are never going to get board and each of the factions offers a nice and subtle change in the game play. Although the campaign mode only lasts for 10 levels or so it is good while it lasts. The four factions offer great longevity in the multiplayer and online modes. Anyone who is into the original Games Workshop table top games will enjoy, as will anyone else who plays it. Dawn or War is a real gem in the RTS genre and I suggest anyone that is into this style of game should buy it and enjoy the killing, chopping, shooting, squashing, shredding and burning the bad guys beyond all recognition.
9.0 out of 10
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