857th played so far

Genre: Strategy/Role-Playing
Platform: PC
Year of Release: 2009
Developer: Relic Entertainment
Publisher: THQ

The first Dawn of War game hit a strategy spot, focusing on smaller squads that are easier to follow and keep track of. The world was as engaging as I’d expect and while base building was a thing, it was less important than capturing specific strategic points to make your way through a map.

The publicity for the third game said the second game focused more on heroes, which that third game started to reverse. Considering how I enjoyed Warcraft 3, though, I feel like I’m going to enjoy this one as well.

Our Thoughts

There are a bunch of elements of Dawn of War II that hit me in the right spot. There’s a heavy focus on heroes and leveling them, determining how they develop and so on. Even determining who goes into the mission and the squad they take with them feels like it has a big effect on what you can do and you develop your favourites as well. They’re decently written, given their limited ability to comment, but it’s really good to have these characters present.

The campaign does fit into that as well. While there’s a bit of a flow to the missions, they have quite a bit of effect on each other as well. You travel between multiple planets, which takes some time to travel between. I don’t think time has had an effect yet, but I can see that applying to the campaign at some point. Each planet has multiple maps, one per region, and each has several buildings you can start to control – although out of the two or three per map, you can only get one per mission. When you do, they give you an advantage – giving you additional support in other levels you play on the planet. It’s a neat idea and it feels like the campaign matters so much more.

Beyond this, the campaign feels good – there are some nice different objectives and the variety of units really makes a difference as you play through. The downside is that there is no base building, but with the focus on characters and strategic points this doesn’t feel as necessary, with the game caring more about how you make it through the level with the resources you have.

Final Thoughts

Dawn of War II feels different from other strategy games, especially from those the first game drew from, but by drawing on the new mechanics they feel closer to what a Warhammer 40k battle feels like – no base buildings, but instead keeping up with your units. It’s a neat system that’s incredibly effective and I’m sad to hear the third game moved away from it, as this was probably the best recent strategy game that I’ve played.