Genre: Strategy Capture Point-Based Real-Time Strategy based on the popular “Warhammer 40,000″ tabletop strategy game
Christian Rating: 1 of 5 (awful)
Gameplay: 5 of 5 (excellent)
Violence: 1 of 5 (awful)
Adult Content: 5 of 5 (none)
Dawn of War series (ex. Soulstorm). Illustration copyrighted.
In the grim darkness of the far future, humanity wages a desperate war against alien threats without and heretical dissent within. Forget the power of common humanity and technology, for there is no peace among the stars. There is an eternity of bloodshed and the laughter of thirsting gods. It is the 41st Millennium, and there is only war.
Many science-fiction writers tend to think of the future as a Utopian paradise, a world in which the power of mankind triumphs over own iniquities, aided by the power of his own grand technology. Gene Roddenberry’s “Star Trek” exemplifies this.
But what if something went wrong? What if the future- the far-flung future- was not a place of peace, not even a place of war as we know it. What if every day was a fight for survival, both against alien and hellspawned horrors to numerous to mention, but also against one’s own government?
Dawn of War series (ex. Soulstorm). Illustration copyrighted.
This is the future postulated by Games Workshop’s seminal “Warhammer 40,000”, brought to the home computer in the Dawn of War series. It is a future you, too, can be a part of, if you dare. THQ has done a masterful job of bringing the tabletop war game “Warhammer 40,000” to the computer screen. By the Dark Crusade expansion pack, seven races from the canon have been included-
The Space Marines- Genetically augmented supermen encased within ancient power armor that can win the day against overwhelming odds. Space Marines serve the “God-Emperor,” their entombed leader from 10,000 years ago that they’ve taken to worship as a deity.
The Orks- Brutal green-skinned, cockney-English speaking aliens that use crude yet powerful weapons, haphazardly built vehicles and the weight of their infantry to smash against any defense.
The Eldar- sleek, ancient Elf-like aliens that use speed, hit and run attacks, and stealth to get the job done.
Chaos Space Marines- the Traitor Legions, Space Marines who have fallen and turned to the demonic forces of the Chaos Gods.
The Imperial Guard (added Winter Assault)- an army of regular humans that also serve the God Emperor.
The Tau (added Dark Crusade)- a new race, they follow the Greater Good. The Tau will accept the surrender of any and all people as long as they agree to follow the Greater Good, and those that refuse to convert are killed or forced into slavery.
The Necron (added Dark Crusade)- Ancient humanoid machines that are the essence of a race of beings that sold their souls to the Star Gods called C’Tan to save their lives. The Necrons exist only to wipe all life off the galaxy.
The game itself marks a departure from most games in the real-time strategy genre.
Since the seminal “StarCraft”, most real-time strategy games rely on a simple formula- use peon gatherer/builder units to collect X resource in order to build Y structure that can build Z unit to capture more X resource, repeat until you crush the opposition.
Relic mixes this up by making the primary resource, Requisition, available only by capturing specific points on the map. This allows the player to focus on combat after the economy is up and running, rather than having to consistently worry about harvesting wood/crystals/gold.
The gameplay is very compelling, with large scale battles, that strike a good balance between large scale tactics, and small scale strategy. The game boasts a wide variety of units, from simple foot soldiers all the way to enormous tanks, monsters and demons. The game also boasts a number of hero units, akin to the ones found in Warcraft 3.
Unfortunately, the content of this game hampers this series greatly. The universe is not a nice place in the 41st Millennium. Morality is not black and white, it’s black and grey. Humanity, as previously stated, worships their fallen leader, who controls and guides them through the last remnants of his soul. Mankind has taken it upon itself to kill anybody different, be they alien, mutant or heretic.
The rest of the sides aren’t much better. The Tau follow the ambigious “Greater Good,” which they treat as a free pass to control the universe. Those that oppose them, as previously said, are either killed or enslaved. The Eldar are a narcissistic faction, that feel they are the caretakers of the galaxy. In order to achieve this, they adopt a very Machiavellian style, and can be just as brutal as any other faction. The Orks are bloodthirsty monsters, that were created only to kill and conquer. The Chaos Space Marines bathe in evil and daemonic energies, worshiping Chaos Gods. The Necron exist only to erradicate all life, and will not stop until they accomplish their tasks.
The violence in-game is intense. Blood spatters everywhere, commanders literally pick up enemies and break them with their weapons, giant walking machines stomp and gore people to death. By far this is one of THE most brutal strategy games to date.
Psychic powers and daemonic magic also run rampant. Gods are commonplace, and all have ulterior motives. The Chaos Gods demand sacrifices of their followers and, in turn, will bestow upon them tremendous demonic powers, the God Emperor demands devotion and the death of all non-believers. The gods of the Necrons demand the entire extinction of all life. Torture and execution is rampant by all sides, and frequently shown (the Imperial Guard has an ability to execute one of its own soldiers to improve the performance of others, akin to the Russians on the Eastern Front in WWII).
Thankfully, the rest of the content is clean… no sex or nudity is shown, and language is remarkably clean (aside from fairly frequent uses of hell and d**n).
Unfortunately, this doesn’t save the game from being mired in some very extreme content. Although there’s a great game to be had here, those that wish to play this should know going in that there’s a great deal of violence, magic and a general sense of depravity.
GAME TECH INFO
Computer Platform: PC (Windows)
Produced by: THQ, Relic Entertainment
Price Range: $31-40
Learning curve time: 31-60 min.
Age level: Mature Teen to Adult
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
Patches / Upgrades: All have had extensive patching.
System Requirements: 1 GHz Pentium III or equivalent AMD Athlon XP processor
Dawn of War series Gallery[nggallery id=7]