My semi-epic review of Dawn of War 2

Phew. Well this took far too long, but I finally got my review posted up.

The full thing's here if anyone wants it, but I'll pull out a couple of quotes.

At a time when most real-time strategy developers were enhancing their engines so that we can throw EVEN MORE (gasp!) enemies in one large cluster at the other team, Relic decided to scale down the numbers, ramp up the tactics and make a game that not only challenged players on a different level other than ‘He has 15 tanks. I must need 16 over there’, but one that could also afford tiny graphical and animation details that would just be wasted from a wider angle. What we were left with was characters that we felt more attached to, a sense that any skirmish can be won with the right tactics, and not a swarm tactic in sight.

Dave Barlow’s rating: 5/5. The game excels in all areas. It’s frantic, yet never overwhelming; accessible, but almost infinitely deep; lengthy, but in a rewarding, engaging way. More fun than Warcraft 3, more varied than Company of Heroes. In all honesty, Dawn of War II is the greatest real-time tactical game ever crafted. It almost received four stars, but apparently “I wish it was an MMO” isn’t a valid enough reason to dock points.
Anyone got it yet? It goes without saying that I recommend it!

"Dave Barlow has a dream"

Hopefully people won't mind! Thought it might be of interest to some on here.

"Good evening. (if you're reading this in the morning, stop reading and come back later so that first bit makes sense)

My name is Dave Barlow. At the time of writing, I am 23 years old, although that number may go up given time. I'll make this quick: I want to write about videogames professionally. So do a gazillion other perfectly able and equally, ahem, talented folk. Herein lies our (my) problem. But we'll get to that part at some point in the future. Or at least we'd better.

At one point, wanting to work with cool people and make interesting content would have probably meant working at 1up. And while that might still be the case, something tells me that there'll be a lot less expense thrown at making cool videos and whatnot in this shiny tower from now on.

On the other hand, it's been proven that with a few dedicated friends and an address book the size of Pluto, a high-quality indie venture is achievable.

So, what have I done so far to get my name out there in the ether and inside the brains of those unwitting types who might one day offer me a job? Bullet-point time!

  • Did a creative (ish) degree. Media Production and Technology at the University of Central Lancashire, Preston. OK so it didn't give me too much experience of writing reviews, but it was an excuse to throw myself into a geeky, techy, creative mindset for three years. Web 2.0, blogging, micro-blogging, RSS, Flickr, podcasts, CreativeCow, DeviantArt; all things I probably would have come across at some point, but never fully understood. Doing a degree in webby stuff got me immersed in not just being a geek and meeting other geeks, but also into the "online scene" more than I ever would have otherwise.
  • Started my own games site in the summer of 2006. In 2007, I bought some webspace and a proper URL. I also recruited a few fellow hopefuls with the thinking being that, working together, we would give each other a kick up the arse occasionally and continue to produce content, despite no one actually ever reading it. I get to keep my writing skills nice and sharp, and I have a big fat body of work that I can show to potential employers. We also did a few episodes of a podcast, which was some good experience to have under our collective 9XL belt.
  • Jumped on board the latest hip creative trendy type thing, which just so happens to be Twitter at the moment. All the cool kids who already have jobs in my industry are using it, and I can slowly crush their will to live in 140-character chunks, thus leaving more opportunities available in my chosen field.
  • Applied for growing sites looking for volunteer writers. No, I'm not getting paid and no, I'm not an instant household name amongst nerds. But by joining the GamesAreEvil network, I have surrounded myself with equally determined people and hey, who knows, we might even succeed at becoming the next big thing ourselves.
The latest news? There's a review copy of Dawn of War 2 in the post for me (thanks to a rather well connected new member of the GrE team), and I'm writing regularly. I'm also looking to move forward with a couple of new podcasts under the GamesAreEvil banner. Considering I'm working full-time as a teaching assistant and getting into the swing of this whole 'being an adult' lark, I'm probably doing just about as much as I can.

Add my RSS feed to your favourite reader, and smack me in the face with some tweets.

My name is Dave Barlow. Hopefully you'll hear it a lot more in a few months."