The Best Fantasy RTS since Warcraft 3
I spent most of my late elementary and early Middle School years, engrossed in RTS's such as Warcraft 3 and Starcraft. Sooner or later the novelty wore off, and three years later and I switched to consoles, due to the games getting old and outdated. Every Year I hoped and prayed that Starcraft 2, or Warcraft 4 would come out, but I never got my wish. (Well not exactly, because Starcraft II is on the way). Instead I got Dawn of War II, a game that lacks story, but makes up for it, in unique and fresh RTS gameplay, that is engrossing.
Gameplay: Different, but Genius
If you've played as Many RTS's as I've had, you'll know, that the one part we all loathe the most, is the dreading base building and resource gathering, or dirt farming as its been called. Dawn of War II wipes that out of its equation, and instead gives you a campaign that plays more like a Action RPG like Diablo. You have squads that last the entire span of the campaign, and they gain levels as you advance through missions. You quickly become engrossed in the number of options you're presented with, when upgrading your units and hero. You must place your units behind cover, so as to protect them from enemy fire, and supression. What I liked most about the unit selection and movement, is that it wasn't very linnear, and you didn't have to take one specific route. Instead, you had multiple options, and can use different squads from different directions. This also brings tactics and abilities into play, which cause really opens up a whole range of ways you can play the game.
Graphics: They don't get any better
If you have a good PC, with powerful graphics card, then this game is worth playing for the astounding visuals. The character models are excellent, and detailed. The artists even took the extra time to make the facial hair and scars on the Space Marines seem realistic. The Battle Field destruction is the best I've seen, and it rivals World in Conflicts. The explosions are very new each time, and the animations are not recylced. The other races are very well designed, especially the Tyranyd and the Eldar. They have very unique looks to them. The Orks have a generic "Ork look" to them, and don'tseem very original, but nonetheless, look very good.
Sound: Good sound effects, but poor voice acting
The sound effects from the Tyranyd, and the explosions are excellent, and very realistic. My only complaint about the game is that the voice acting leaves a lot to be desired, and I know that Warhammer Games are known for great stories, that engross you, but the voice acting does not sell you. The actors over act a lot of their lines, not so much the humans, but the Robots and the Alien races are very fake, and do not seem to keep you engrossed.
Story: Mediocre at best, but the cinematic touches make it feel epic
The story on paper is not very good, and is reminiscent of the Warcraft 3 story. An alien race is coming to destroy the world and the other three races have to fight it off, while fighting each other. The biggest problem with the story is not the originalaty, but the fact that the campaign only takes place from the Space Marine's perspective. Only giving one side of the story, kind of makes you feel like there's a whole chunk of the game missing. Hopefully that can be fixed in expansions. The one good thing the story does do, is make the cinematics feel very epic and important, and that your actions have a large role in the grand scheme of things.
Campaign: Lengthy, good, and replayable
The Campaign is extremely lengthy, and covers the Space Marines side of the story. It is very long, and offers side missions along the way. What this does, is it allows you to choose and follow the story, or instead do all the optional missions, so as to level up your character. Both are equally enjoyable and rewarding. The Mandatory missions are pretty well broken up, but the optional missions tend to get reptitive. The best part is that since you have your squads for the whole game, it allows you to replay the game, and use different upgrades and tactics.
The multiplayer does integrate base building and resource gathering, but at a minor level. You must capture control points to get more points to eventually win the match. The best part is that you are immediately thrust into battles from the games start, because you need to capture resource and power points as well as command points, which causes you to divide your forces, and use cover to your advantage. The multiplayer gets very addicting, and you can rack up some hours playing this brilliant mode.
Dawn of War II is a must buy for RTS fans, and people new to the genre, because this isn't your average RTS game.