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Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War PC CD-ROM

Published by THQ
Developed by Relic Entertainment
Release Date : Out Now
Price : £34.99

Many will think of the table-top fantasy war games whenever the word Warhammer is mentioned to them. For more years than I can remember it's always been very popular with and had global appeal. Games based on the franchise though have usually been disappointing and when the much awaited Warhammer Online was cancelled it came as a massive shock and disappointment to fans of the franchise, especially as the released screenshots of the game seemed to indicate that it was shaping up to be something special. Thankfully for Warhammer enthusiasts though Relic Entertainment have created a Warhammer game that is actually worthy of praise in the shape of Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War.

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War is an action packed RTS where the emphasis is not so much on resource management but all-out thrilling battles. You won't have battles with thousands of units in Dawn of War but instead you'll control small squads of units which are easy to manage. The game contains a single player campaign, a skirmish mode and LAN/Internet play. The game has four factions from the Warhammer 40,000 universe, the Orks, the Space Marines, the Chaos Space Marines and the Eldar. Whilst you can control any one of these factions in online and skirmish modes, you can only control the Space Marines in the campaign mode. This isn't really a problem though to be honest because all of the factions are fairly similar in how they play and once you're comfortable with one faction it's not a problem to play with another faction.

Resource management in Dawn of War is not a major hassle like in a lot of other RTS games. Requisition is the most basic resource along with power (Orks will need Ork Resource too). Requisition allows you to create units and structures. In order to earn Requisition you'll have to capture Strategic Points by taking them with infantry units and keep them protected. Capturing and keeping control of Critical Locations and Relics will also increase the rate at which Requisition is earned. Power is needed for heavy weapons, vehicles and advanced weapons and is generated by Plasma Generators and Thermo-Plasma Generators. The resource management in Dawn of War doesn't demand a great deal of attention though and most will appreciate this.

On the whole Dawn of War is very impressive but perhaps the biggest disappointment with Dawn of War is the single player campaign. It's disappointing for two reasons. First of all the campaign, whilst enjoyable, is completely linear and there is no incentive to replay it once it's been completed. Secondly it's much too short and seasoned RTS gamers will have it all completed in no time at all. The default difficulty setting doesn't provide any sort of challenge to anyone who has played a RTS before. Because of these limitations with the single player campaign it's a good bet that gamers will spend most of their time with the online options and single player skirmish mode.

The skirmish mode gives you a great chance to get to know your favoured faction and it's also gives you a chance to practice for the multiplayer mode as it's essentially the same only with AI opponents. There are 21 maps in all (for 2, 4, 6 and 8 player games). There are 5 difficulty levels ranging from Easy to Insane. There are multiple victory conditions to choose from such as annihilate, assassinate, destroy HQ, and take & hold. Economic victories are also possible which is great to see. You can give your units a custom paint job for both multiplayer and skirmish mode which is absolutely great and in addition a number of pre-created colour schemes are also available. Overall the skirmish mode is very impressive and goes a long way to compensating for the short campaign. Finally it's worth mentioning that you can even take a subtitled tutorial for the skirmish mode that you will show you how to get the most from this mode. I thought this was a very nice inclusion and I hope it's a feature that other developers will use in the future.

Graphically the game looks as good as any other 3D RTS to date. Even when zoomed in fully the units look great. The terrain also looks great and is well detailed. The games interface is superb and instantly understandable. The control panel at the bottom of the screen can be dropped down if you wish. Each of the factions look great and they all have their own distinctive structures and vehicles which is great to see. You are going to need a decent PC specification in order to play the game with the maximum graphical settings enabled though but turning down the detail will help those of us with lesser systems to enjoy a smooth experience. The games animations are also impressive and completely in keeping with what Warhammer 40,000 fans would expect to see. Of course with this being a 3D RTS you have full control over the games camera and you can fully rotate your view. Unlike a lot of RTS games though you don't use the middle mouse button (usually a wheel) to rotate the view but instead you'll have to hold down the Alt button and move the mouse in order to rotate. This does feel awkward at first but you soon get used to it.

One of the most pleasing aspects of Dawn of War is that subtitles are enabled (actually you can't turn them off) and therefore deaf gamers will be able to fully enjoy the single player campaign. The subtitles are clear and easy to read even at high resolutions. Objectives can be recalled at any time by clicking on the objectives button in the top right corner of the screen. The speech you receive from your units during the game (such as the comments they will give when you issue an order to them) are not subtitled. However whilst this does deny the deaf gamer a little of the ambience it doesn't prove any kind of obstacle and it won't impair your enjoyment of the game. The game manual comes with around 40 pages of English text and covers the basic game concepts and includes a brief description of the structures, units as well as listing the weapons of each faction. You'll also receive a pull-out tech tree which is much better than those annoying Acrobat (.pdf) files that you usually find on the disk and end up having to print off.

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War is actually a very good RTS that most fans of the genre will appreciate. The length and linearity of the single player campaign just prevents it from being a classic but hopefully an expansion of some sorts could rectify this. As a multiplayer game though it has a lot of potential and it's interesting to see that it's already becoming very popular online and that clans are being formed. As a result of what we've just said your opinions on the game will depend on whether or not you participate in multiplayer games or whether you're just interested in the single player game. Of course if you don't mind skirmish games (and they are very good in Dawn of War) then you're not going to mind the shortness of the campaign too much. Warhammer enthusiasts will be very pleased with what's in the game although I dare say some would have wanted much more of the Warhammer 40,000 franchise represented. Indeed enthusiasts might even point out that more units could have been added to each faction and that the tech trees for each faction is fairly small. Looking at it strictly as a PC game though it's absolute quality and with this in mind it's a good bet that we'll see an expansion that will expand the game in the not too distant future.

Overall Game Rating: 8.9/10
The length and linearity of the campaign is the only part of the game that really can be faulted. Warhammer fans might have wanted to see more units and a larger tech tree but taking it purely as a PC RTS game, this is pretty impressive stuff and is sure to be a favourite as an online game for a long time.

Deaf Gamers comment:
The game is subtitled by default and you'll be able to enjoy the campaign story as well as learn from the games tutorials.