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Dawn of War II Review

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Dawn of War II Review

Post by Razor Devil on Tue Oct 27, 2009 12:23 pm

Hey guys, just felt like doing a review on this game after i read catseye's review and got offended by it. Excuse me for either my poor or unorthodox reviewing style, I do it the way that I like to do it. (Oh and please note that I try to make my serious reviews objective and unbiased Laughing ).

REVIEW CORRECT AS OF 27/10/2009

Game: Dawn of War II
Developer: Relic
Publisher: THQ
Genre: Real-time strategy
ESRB rating: M
Release Date: February 19-20 2009
Steam is used for authentication and patching purposes

Background information:
Dawn of War II, like it's previous titles is set in the Warhammer 40 000 Universe by Games Workshop. The Warhammer 40k universe is a universe (actually it's set in a galaxy) where many factions are in an eternal war for control of the galaxy. Many races or factions have advanced weaponry and the Imperium of Man is fighting for its very survival. An example of a faction is the space marines, the Imperium's super-soldiers, genetically modified and trained on an intensive regime, capable of living hundreds of years and defeating the toughest of foes.

Campaign:
Storyline - Subsector Aurelia is a recruiting sector for the Blood Ravens, a chapter of Space Marines. From here all Blood Ravens space marines are recruited. Recently, planet Calderis, a prime recruiting world, has come under heavy attack from the Orks, a race that lives only for war. Orks are prone to infighting, however when a huge Ork comes along, he has the power to unite all and muster a massive "WAAAUUGGHHH" which can raze entire systems.
You, the commander, and a small force of space marines (13) travel to Calderis only to discover a greater threat lurking.
Spoiler:
You discover that it is the Eldar, an ancient and deceptive race with extremely advanced technology and potent psykers, who have stirred up the Orks to slow the Tyranid threat. The Tyranids are a race of biological creatures from outside the galaxy. Every Tyranid is linked to the Hive Mind, the collective mind of all the Tyranid creatures, which is why the tyranids know no fear and feel nothing. The ultimate goal of the tyranids is to strip the galaxy bear of all biomass, which must not be allowed to happen.
Gameplay - The campaign features many unique ideas and is unlike many other RTS games. Probably the most prominent is the lack of base building. Instead all squads start spawned already. Your squads feature many unique abilities and the focus is on battlefield tactics and heavy micromanagement rather than build orders or overall strategy. Another main feature is the levelling system. As your squads kill more, they gain experience which makes them gain levels, which allows you to upgrade their stats and use higher levelled wargear which is obtained from battle. The cover system (see below) is also utilised.

These features make the campaign much of a love/hate type of game. There is a loss of "epicness" with the removal of any base or unit building and overall game plan, however the heavy focus on battle tactics such as using abilities to the max as well as taking full advantage of cover with careful micromanagement makes it a different type of game altogether. Whether this is good or bad is up to the person playing. The leveling and wargear system is unique, however missions get repetitive after the first few missions, for example any mission that is not a defend mission is usually just fighting to get to the other side of the map and then just fighting a boss. This makes each mission simply become a way to hoard wargear and nothing more. There is little motivation to finish the campaign other than the intriguing story and the GFWL achievements (40G :O) There is a certain lack of replay value however and you will be hard pressed to want to play the campaign again other than see people get chopped in half.
7/10

Gameplay (I will split this up into several parts):

Regular Multiplayer - Like the campaign, the multiplayer is very much love or hate.
Building and resources: Unline conventional RTSs, DoWII has almost no base building or resource harvesting. Resources are available by capturing two different types of points on the map, one which gives requisition (main resource) and one which gives power (secondary). Power points can be upgraded with requisition to have more power output by placing generators around it, but these can be destroyed. With more kills your third resource (with name depending on race) increases, which allows one to use a variety of commander/race specific abilites, from enhancing to sheer destruction, as well as building units. All other units are built from the a central base which can be upgraded to produce a wider variety of units.
Other: Unlike many games, each player starts with a basic squad of infantry as well as their commander. Most units are built in the form of squads which can be reinforced when losses are taken. The commander is chosen before the game and each commander is unique in terms of wargear choice as well as abilities, strengths, weaknesses, weaponry, and third resource abilities (global abilities). Some commanders are weak and cast support spells, some can teleport while others are sheer juggernauts.
Combat: The strong point of DoW II is the battle tactics required. Most units have abilities which can be used, such as grenades or the ability to run faster. Many units can also be upgraded to increase damage output or to gain new abilities or weaponry to counter specific threats on the battlefield. The game is also split up into melee and ranged combat, with most ranged units being able to melee and vice versa. This can be vital in tying ranged units to prevent them from shooting by forcing them into melee. The use of tactics is further shown by the cover system.
Most objects offer cover which reduces incoming damage. Units will auto-find cover and the player can also click next to or on cover to utilise it. Cover can turn the tide of battle, allowing inferior or outnumbered units to win against all odds. However cover can be countered through the use of certain weapons which negate cover, or abilities or weapons which can destroy cover. Some units, especially vehicles, can also be used to drive over and destroy cover. Cover can also be flanked instead (by moving to the side of the unit so that the flanking unit is not firing through cover) which negates the bonus of the 'covered' unit. Buildings can also be entered to gain a medium cover bonus. As well as being able to shoot out of the building, it cannot be flanked and melee units cannot come inside. However not only does a building offer less cover than heavy cover, if the building loses all health then occupants will die.
The game is also very unforgiving and if you lose a unit in the early game you are essentially screwed as it takes time as well as resources to build a new unit.
All infantry squads and commanders also have the ability to 'retreat' which increases their movement speed and susceptibility to melee attacks. The retreating unit runs the shortest possible route back to the player's base. This allows doomed armies to get out of tight situations but may mean the loss of ground to the enemy which could ultimately lead to the loss of a match. A smart opponent may also flank with melee units to take advantage of these retreating units.
The victory conditions are also unique in that on each map there are 3 victory points. Each player has 500 points at the beginning of the game but if one player has more victory points captured than the other the victory points of the opposing player will tick down. If all points tick down then the player loses.

Essentially, the movement of DoWII away from more conventional RTS games has affected it greatly and in mainly positive ways. A micromanagement focused game which is further accentuated by the lack of base building leads to extremely competitive and 'hardcore' gameplay, making DoWII have an extremely steep learning curve, bad news for the casual gamer. This use of tactics however is what makes DoWII stand out, with players required to make decisions (such as retreating, using buildings, flanking) that could be the difference between winning and losing. This is what Relic itself wanted, to focus on the combat and less on the overall build orders and strategy that could be learned from reading and not experience and could make a game boring. While the ideas are sound, the game can have severe balancing problems (that are constantly being fixed by patches) as well as poor pathing, altogether leading to execution of ideas that could be done better.
8/10

The Last Stand - The Last Stand is a game mode released as free DLC by Relic. Relic has stated that it will add more content if player interest is high. Designed to be entirely different from the regular hardcore multiplayer and more casual, The Last Stand is a hero defense mode. The player must select from 1 of 3 heroes, and the player then joins a party consisting of 3 people who may have the same commander if they so wish. Starting from Wave 1, the player tries to battle it out all the way to Wave 20. Team strategies are almost definitely required to get to higher waves which encourages team play. Leveling and experience depends on the wave reached. Leveling does not directly increase stats but rather just gives wargear to the player, which discourages XP hoarders.
However only certain strategies and wargear selections are viable for the group to get to higher waves, and a lot of wargear either does not scale (work well in higher waves) or is simply not useful. This means that group strategies and wargear loadouts are less creative and usually must stick to certain builds. Groups must also start from Wave 1 each time meaning that the first few waves are simply time wasters when the group starts being able to reach higher waves.

All in all however, The Last Stand is not bad at all, especially for free DLC and the positives far outweigh the negatives. While only specific wargear loadouts work and the earlier waves simply eat up time, the fact that it is OK to die and simply that you will not be called a noob if something happens (unlike in the normal hardcore multiplayer games) ensures that The Last Stand is a very entertaining game mode.
9/10

Graphics:

The graphics on Dawn of War II are amazing to say the least. While grass still looks slightly unrealistic (although barely on ultra settings), all things are now 3 dimensional, including any non-gameplay affecting features (such as grass). Bullet shells (whatever they're called, the part of the bullet that is left after the actual bullet is fired) also look unrealistic however it is almost impossible to notice as they are tiny and disappear after flying off into midair.
Like most games, Dawn of War II has a 360 view and zoom feature which allows the person to view the battlefield up close or normally, and from any angle. Objects do not appear blurry or pixelated until zoomed to a ridiculous magnification (as in, a shoe is 1/4 of the screen).
An easy comparison of graphics would be to put DoWII into low graphics settings and play a game. Then play a game of original DoW with high graphics, and you will notice that the two games look to have about the same graphics quality.
In terms of creating a setting however, the graphics easily showcase what each race is all about, with Eldar having fragile advanced technology, Tyranids having great biological masses, etc.

Essentially, the graphics in Dawn of War II are extremely good especially for an RTS game. Objects are realistic and being able to view the map from any angle and magnification is a great feature. 9/10

Sound:

The options for sound can either be stereo or fake surround sound (whatever it is called), with sound quality also being an option to adjust from crap to very good. The soundtrack could be viewed as "epic" but is not really noticed during games as usually the sound of the game drowns out everything else. Sound effects are quite realistic (in a future sci-fi way) however only a few sound effects "wow" the player in terms of being cool.
Each unit has unique phrases when they are selected, and once again this showcases the factions attributres/beliefs/etc, as well as the specific unit.
Voice acting seems slightly overdone to the point of being scripted (even though it is Razz ). There are also not enough phrases per unit for it to not sound repetitive if one is selecting a unit frequent.

All in all sound effects are quite good. Soundtrack could be used more heavily, and voicing in general is quite bad. 7/10

Connectivity:
The game uses Games for Windows Live as a hub for players to find each other before the game. The actual connection in game is all p2p, meaning data is sent from one person to all other people. This makes it hard, especially in 1v1s to find the person who disconnected or is lagging as there is no server actually hosting the game. There are many problems at the moment about lag in 3v3 games. Games themselves require faster internet than many other RTS games. A central lobby/chatroom feature would also be welcomed.
6/10

Bugs:
As of now the game has an appalling number of glitches and bugs. Some are gameplay related such as units not moving or responding while some are connectivity related such as 3v3 lag problems and not being able to sign in to Games for Windows Live. Many bugs will crash the game, and Games for Windows Live further increases the amount of bugs within the game. Although not really a bug as such, vehicle pathing used to be terrible and is still currently OK at best.

Overall:

The graphics and ideas of the game (multiplayer and The Last Stand) are the main highs of the game however it is let down by the voice acting. Connectivity is also currently an issue however Relic has stated that it will be fixed in the future. Essentially, Dawn of War II is the best of Company of Heroes and Dawn of War put together, but with some nuts and bolts missing.
8/10 Surprised


Last edited by Razor Devil on Sun Nov 22, 2009 9:00 am; edited 9 times in total
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Re: Dawn of War II Review

Post by catseye626 on Tue Oct 27, 2009 12:27 pm

Hmm...considering the 5 and 6.5 as well as the many bugs you noted, i find it hard to imagine how it would get and 8 out of 10. I mean, graphics arent THAT important.

Edit: I still wouldnt consider it finished because the only gameplay you evaluated was "The Last Stand"


Last edited by catseye626 on Fri Oct 30, 2009 9:56 am; edited 2 times in total

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Re: Dawn of War II Review

Post by JayProBii on Tue Oct 27, 2009 12:28 pm

DoW2 voices = fail

I had to let it out.

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Re: Dawn of War II Review

Post by Razor Devil on Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:53 pm

catseye626 wrote:Hmm...considering the 6 and 7 as well as the many bugs you noted, i find it hard to imagine how it would get and 8 out of 10. I mean, graphics arent THAT important.

Firstly I haven't finished the gameplay, and secondly without graphics you wouldn't be able to see the game. Connectivity issues aside everything else is quite good, as well as campaign not being anywhere near as important as multiplayer. And of course, bugs will be fixed.

In hindsight I was a bit harsh to show that I'm not biased Razz so I have raised the ratings a bit. I have now fixed your quote :p
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Re: Dawn of War II Review

Post by Tiny_plaid_ninjas on Sun Nov 01, 2009 1:21 am

Dude... Doesn't this belong in the other dow 2 thread? 2 threads to review the same game is just stupid. Mod hax please!
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Re: Dawn of War II Review

Post by catseye626 on Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:37 am

Tiny_plaid_ninjas wrote:Dude... Doesn't this belong in the other dow 2 thread? 2 threads to review the same game is just stupid. Mod hax please!

Umm it actually doesnt belong in the other thread because this is a different review (duh). In fact your review shouldnt even be in the other thread. Oh and i wouldnt call it "hax", the correct term is awesomeness.

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Re: Dawn of War II Review

Post by Razor Devil on Sun Nov 01, 2009 11:29 am

Well, unless the other thread was a "Dawn of War II review thread". In which case all Dawn of War II reviews would be there, much like the introduction thread that we currently have.
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Re: Dawn of War II Review

Post by Razor Devil on Sun Nov 22, 2009 9:02 am

Okay, the review has finally been finished Very Happy:D:D because I was finally bothered to finish it. (And yes I am aware that this is a double post but this post is essentially a bump anyway.)
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Re: Dawn of War II Review

Post by catseye626 on Sun Nov 22, 2009 9:53 am

finally....it has taken you almost a month...

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Re: Dawn of War II Review

Post by purgertheevil on Thu Jan 07, 2010 1:47 pm

Dont be so slack to Razor Devil, I mean at least he wrote a review.........
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