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Dawn of War II

Reviewed on: PC

Publisher: THQ
Rated: "M" for Mature

CHEATfactor Game Review
by Joe Sinicki

Audio/Visual: 6
Gameplay: 5
Lasting Appeal: 5
Overall: 6
CHEATfactor: 6
The real time strategy genre is quite popular with PC fans. With so many titles to chose from, how is one title supposed to stick out from the pack? Giving the proverbial middle finger to time honored genre standards can’t hurt.

With an innovative approach to a time honored genre, and impressive visuals, Relic’s Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II actually manages to accomplish what many games attempt to do – create a new, worthwhile experience without ruining what made the original so special. While the changes may not sit well with some RTS diehards – those willing to adapt to the franchises new features will find themselves wondering why they weren’t implemented sooner.

To be fair, DoW II isn’t the dramatic genre overhaul I hinted at in the first paragraph – it’s more of a reimagining.  The easiest way to describe DoW II’s gameplay is RTS meets RPG. Putting more of an emphasis on story and character development – Relic chose to do away with the base-building and mass-unit customization found in most RTS titles. Instead, much of your attention will be focused on four different squads of space marines each with different skills and abilities.  Throughout the campaign these abilities can be upgraded, and the units can acquire special weapons.

"This new character focused mechanic definitely has its high points and low points."


This new character focused mechanic definitely has its high points and low points. While it should be enough to bring in new players – it almost feels like it should be marketed as RTS diet.  The genre has always been about player choices and DoW II seems to take a few of those choices away and places them firmly into the control of the AI.  Unlike previous games in the genre (and the series), players will choose what units they will take into battle before the action even loads, and cannot build new units mid-battle.  This severely limits on-the–fly player customization in favor of frustrating trial and error gameplay that finds players having to go back and chose different units based on where they went wrong. Sure, it’s a new approach to the genre – but at what cost?

There is however tremendous variety to the gameplay if you’re willing to look for it. Taking the time to build up your squad’s abilities can be quite rewarding and can lead to some interesting battles. Not only can you customize your squad in general, but you can and should pay special attention to the abilities of your squad’s commander since they cannot be killed in battle. More than likely you won’t be able to max out your squad’s abilities in one playthrough which adds a ton of replayability.

Let’s do a little math shall we? There’s four different races in DoW II’s narrative – how many of those are playable in the campaign mode? Only one.  Yes, players are limited to playing strictly as the space marines in the campaign mode - -which makes sense, as they’re central to the game’s story but it definitely has its limitations.  Featuring a non-linear narrative, DoW II’s campaign is incredibly self-serving, allowing gamers to play, and as a result level up, however they like.  Being able to take different paths through the game, and experimenting with new squads does add more replayability, and compliments the new features greatly. The only other major issue with DoW II’s campaign is that most of the missions look and feel the same – so there’s a good chance you’re going to get bored quite easily.

"Luckily, combat in DoW II has gotten a major overhaul..."


Luckily, combat in DoW II has gotten a major overhaul – mostly thanks to the success of Company of Heroes.  The use of cover and suppression fire adds a mix of strategy and action to the genre as opposed to the traditional RTS action formula.  Since DoW II limits the amount of troops in each battle (roughly about 12 per side at most) – the focus switches from expansion to knowing how to manage your troop’s abilities best.  You won’t be able to send a seemingly endless supply of troops to attack your enemy’s base, and a strategy is key.

Aside from the campaign mode (which itself can be played by a single player or cooperatively), DoW II features a robust multiplayer suite including skirmish mode that pits players against each other in classic RTS multiplayer action. Though the multiplayer modes do feature the same new gameplay mechanics as the campaign, the multiplayer modes do seem a bit more forgiving.

Though it’s sure to upset some RTS diehards, Dawn of War II is quite the accomplishment. Featuring a novel mix of new mechanics and RTS standards – it should serve as a good starting off point for those looking to get into the genre, but just not sure where to start. Though it’ll be hit or miss with fans of the genre, those willing to give the new mechanics a try should be pleasantly surprised.  



CHEATS USED: Unlimited Requisition, Power, Troops, Faction Resource

Dawn of War II employs a lot of new gameplay mechanics that although they are novel – makes the game feel a bit like it should be marketed as RTS-diet. With the trainers available through Cheat Happens --- it is possible to make the game feel more like a traditional RTS. Using the unlimited power, resource, requisition and troops features will bring more structure to the gameplay, allowing for old school strategies and quite fun gameplay. Plus, with little to lose -- it takes away from some of the trial and error gameplay.

It takes a while to max out your troops skills, which can get tiring as most of the missions are quite similar, luckily there’s a cheat for that. Being able to max out your troops resources is an incredibly time saver, and acts almost as a god mode in earlier missions.

You have to think though – what is DoW II without its RPG like features? It’s simply another RTS game – and haven’t you already played that?


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