Last month, Game Console previewed the Dawn of War II multiplayer beta, which gave gamers their first look at Relic’s highly anticipated sequel. This month we got our hands on the full version and had a chance to play through this highly polished and very slick game. The multiplayer component was largely a tweaked version of the same exhilarating game play from the preview. The single player campaign, however, adds an entirely new and somewhat unexpected experience.
The campaign is played from the perspective of the Space Marines as they defend their home system from the various alien protagonists of the Warhammer 40k universe. The campaign is non-linear in that the player can choose which battles they fight, with key missions regularly advancing the game’s story. And it’s here where Dawn of War II takes a curious step away from its traditional roots.
The Dawn of War franchise follows the classic Real Time Strategy (RTS) formula where the player engages in base building, resource gathering and army building. While the Dawn of War II multiplayer experience trimmed these down to more basic functions, the single player experience goes even further, completely eliminating any build functions at all.
Instead, it focuses on the players developing their characters and squads so that they can level up and thus acquire new abilities and also obtain war gear. This new direction changes the game to feel like more like an action Role Playing Game (RPG). As such, the game is hard pressed to be called a ‘strategy’ game, which may turn off some former Dawn of War players.
This new mix, however, is seamlessly implemented with an exceedingly high level of polish, and the multiplayer element of the game remains superb. In short, Dawn of War II is an excellent game with great graphics, atmosphere and game play - but those looking for real strategy will need to look elsewhere.