Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War 2 - Retribution

Yeesh!  That's a mouthful.  I know this is a bit late since this game was released over a month ago but I thought since my attention has been somewhat monopolized by this title it was worthy of a review in this week's Wednesday Low-Down.

                Alright, I'll admit it.  I'm no stranger to miniature wargaming.  It all started back in 1999 when I attended a convention at the Westin Los Angeles Hotel.  I was sucked into the concept by a cunning salesman.  He assured me that this would be a fun way to spend my youthful afternoons.  After pooling in the $60 with my brother, we purchased the 3rd Edition Warhammer 40k starter set.

                And what a ride it's been since.

                So, after dueling on the harsh dice rolling battlefield, I became psyched to hear that there were going to be Warhammer 40k PC games in the works.  Being an RTS (Real Time Strategy for the less endowed) nut and aficionado (go ahead and challenge me in C&C: Generals...  I'll make you cry), I knew this would be an instant classic.  I've played a few of the previous titles in the past but none of them drew me in quite like Dawn of War 2 - Retribution.

                First of all, people can rejoice.  Unlike most RTS or RTT expansions, Retribution is a standalone title.  There is no need to purchase previous versions or even play them to understand what is going on.  The modes available are fairly simple and straightforward.  Campaign nurtures you into the game by providing a series of missions that does not overpower beginners to the franchise/genre.   There are 6 armies to choose from: Space Marines, Chaos Space Marines, Eldar, Tyranids, Orkz, and the Imperial Guard .

                Multiplayer is where this game truly shines.  Being a part of the Steam network automatically connects players to thousands of potential teammates/opponents.  Skirmish mode allows for various forms of competition including Annihilation and Victory point conquest for players to do battle in 1v1, 2v2, or 3v3 matches.   A unique feature to the genre is The Last Stand where a group of three heroes take on wave after wave of enemies in order to achieve a high score, earns experience, and set a record on the leader boards.

                So, after doing that dissection, I bet you're asking "what makes this game fun?"  Well, I hate to admit it but only fans of the RTS or RTT genre will get a kick out of the Retribution experience.   The campaign is furious and somewhat fast paced (unusual for the genre) so the ability to quickly respond as the tides of battle turn is a must.  Multiplayer is frantic and enjoyable.  The modes are simple and easy to understand while the maps are cleverly designed so that one area does not have a distinct advantage over the other.

                Sadly the game comes with a few flaws.  Multiplayer matchmaking takes a bit of time (up to 20 minutes in some cases) and the level of current competition is fierce that may dissuade newcomers from jumping on board.  Also, the single player campaign is essentially the same for every race.  While the story differs, every mission objective remains the same.  If you're looking for that deep and enthralling story experience, Retribution is not for you.  But, after the campaign is cleared with one race, it becomes easier to do it with a second is you wish to branch out and become a versatile army player.

                As far as offering my "Official Seal of Approval" I unfortunately have to balk on that.  This is only due to the fact that this game is catered to a specific audience.  But who knows?  Maybe you are an RTS gamer and haven't discovered it yet.  Steam is currently offering a free demo of Dawn of War 2.  It'll get you into the basics of the game without overwhelming you.  My advice is to give it a shot.  It's definitely worth an hour of your time regardless of what types of games you enjoy.  For core RTS and RTT fans, what are you doing still reading this?  Go pick it up, find me, extend a challenge, and prepare for extermination!

Final Rating: B+


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