My return to RTS games

Games like Silent Storm were always my kind of Strategy
Games like Silent Storm were always my kind of Strategy
With few exceptions, I've never really enjoyed RTS games. The amount of frantic key pressing and learn by repetition strategy always put me off immediately. The times I did manage to slog through the first half of any RTS game I was rewarded with 2 hour missions where I spent a good portion of my time building up a base. While that seems fun for some, the RPG nerd in me liked my battles a little more confined and slow paced. I liked being attached to my "units" and caring about their deaths rather then pumping a new set out of my barracks. Turn-based strategy like Fallout Tactics, Silent  Storm and X-Com were always more my speed.

Imagine then my surprise that I've been totally addicted to Dawn of War 2 the past week. I had played through the first one and although I loved the setting and the steps they made to make it less twitchy the game was soon easily forgotten in the large pile of games I gave up playing after a week. The recent sequel I haven't put down and it's easy to tell you why.
  1. I have built nary a base in the entire campaign.
  2. I control only 4 units the entire game. Although each unit is made up of several marines, I can only control them together as a group.
  3. I level up these units across the campaign and can tailor them to my playstyle.
  4. I can equip these units with dropped loot, further cementing them into the class of marine I want them to be (melee vs. ranged...etc)
Did I mention I haven't built a base? While some may be thinking... well, it doesn't sound much like an RTS to me, I can only reply... thank you Relic for removing the tedium out of this genre. I start every 20 minute mission with the same troops, who are now slightly stronger from the last mission, and use tactics, cover and the ever rare retreat to beat my enemy instead of amassing troops for 30 minutes so that I feel confident I can take out the other side. Relic didn't stop pleasing me there though, because they added boss fights to almost every mission and alleviated my other harp against the genre -- that defeating the enemy should be more involved then blowing up some buildings after the enemies are dead.

The battles in Dawn of War 2 are intense but confined
The battles in Dawn of War 2 are intense but confined
I can't tell you how freeing this feels. Finally I can enjoy this genre. While I'm still a little slow when it comes to all the key commands, the focus on tactics over units really has me hooked. So much so that I'm going to give World in Conflict a go, which I hear has a similar quick to fight feel.

Now remember when I said there were a few exceptions to my RTS hate? The exceptions all come from Blizzard, specifically Warcraft III and Starcraft, which I spent many of my younger years wasting my days on. Having played through DoW2 I can now only wonder if my experience with Starcraft II will be sullied by this experience. While I know Blizzard will have a great story waiting for me, I don't know if I can suffer building up a base or dealing with 100 units on the screen again. While I hope that's not the case, I also can't imagine how it could be a Starcraft game without those kinds of amassing of units.

In any case, suddenly I'm really excited by RTS games again. If you have any recommendations leave me a comment. I've got World in Conflict and Company of Heroes all queued up.
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