I’m only marginally familiar with the immense Time-and-Money Vortex that is Warhammer 40,000. But, given my weak-willed propensity to become addicted to anything even remotely “collectable”, I knew enough to stay well clear. Still, I’d wander into my local game store and look longingly at the wall of sparkly miniatures, paints, and volumes of rulebooks, and I just knew there was a huge world of fun sitting right there. And while there have been many computer and console versions of the popular tabletop wargame, I’d never had the opportunity to give any of them a run, until now. Relic Entertainment’s latest foray into Warhammer 40K brings that tabletop game to wonderful life, giving us an entertaining, brutally fast-paced RTS that will surely please fans as well as newcomers. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War
focuses on four of the more popular 40K races: The Space Marines, the Chaos Space Marines, the Orks, and the Eldar. Not much explanation is given for all the bickering between these guys, but it seems that they just can’t share a planet without getting into a bit of a row. As I’m not all that familiar with the setting, there’s undoubtedly a great deal of background I’m just not seeing. Truthfully, though, it really doesn’t matter. Relic isn’t trying to tell a grand, sweeping tale here. Dawn of War is about putting a few factions together on a map and seeing who walks off alive, little more than that. Those wanting “plot” need to look elsewhere. The rest of us can enjoy some highly-polished RTS action.
Gameplay is traditional RTS. Players begin with a main base structure and a builder unit or two. First order of business is to get some income. There are only two resources for most of the races, three for the Orks. Requisition, the primary resource, is gained mainly through controlling Strategic Points on the map. These spots take a while to capture, and only certain units are able to do this. While several defensive structures can be built to help control a Strategic Point, these fall quickly to a determined enemy, so much of the game is spent frantically trying to grab and hold these points. Power, the secondary resource, is gathered simply by building generator buildings. Besides paying for units and buildings, Requisition and Power are also used to move up the tech tree, providing improvements to keep those units in the fight a bit longer. Orks need to accumulate a third resource which is, amusingly enough, Orks. Orks (the resource) are generated by building certain structures (the “Waaagh! Banner”), and are needed for filling out the military ranks. The most powerful units for each side also require the capture of Relic points which, like Strategic Points are fairly easy to take and quite difficult to hold.
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