You don’t get the show #18: PETA vs Warhammer 40k


We got PETA going after Warhammer 40K for using fur on their figurines (never mind all the humans that were killed) and a game developer writing their own positive reviews on Steam. We also premiere our new clickbait segment because we know how much you guys love that.

Warhammer 40k: Fire Warrior

[youtube id=”LfJ7HDJ6LWs” width=”633″ height=”356″]

The problems with Fire Warrior, you see, are firmly rooted in its dirty console past. The game sports an incredibly annoying auto-save/checkpoints feature that forces you to replay levels again and again (only to be killed seconds before beating them), has pretty clumsy controls, very poor AI, astonishingly few tweaking options and an obviously tacked-on online multi-player side. ~Konstantinos Dimopoulos

Warhammer 40k: Fire Warrior

Now, why would you dear readers care for a review of a spectacularly unremarkable 5 year old game, that was released to public apathy and less than stellar reviews? And why would I bother with a game that dared tempt the PC crowd without a proper save feature, while offering only lackluster multi-player options? Why should we even care about the existence of another generic FPS instead of, say, the joys of Blue Lacuna? Well, simple really. It’s all happening because I’m oddly enjoying playing through Fire Warrior, that’s why. Shockingly for the second time in my life too.

warhammer 40k - fire warrior - pc

Better start at the beginning then. Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior is -as you might have already guessed- a pretty standard FPS set in Games Workshop’s dark and gritty sci-fi/Gothic world of Warhammer 40,000, where -as is customary with these things- there is only war and apparently many interesting stories to be told. You, the player, assume the role of a young warrior of the Tau Empire and set out to fight for the greater good in general and, in a more specific way, against the rather fascist Empire of Man. Actually, you get to live through the frenetic first 24 hours of your service while battling through 21 hour-long levels, essentially making this a properly real-time FPS in the strictest of senses. Interesting innit? Regardless. It still is longer than the average shooter and that sort of makes up for the fact that the game is definitely showing its age. It was after all a 2003 release.

warhammer 40k - fire warrior - pc

Fire Warrior also was the first pure action game set in the Warhammer 40k universe and, frankly, this must have been why I actually decided to give it a chance in the first place. Let me explain my train of thought like this: Shooting Space Marines? Yes, please. Walking through Tau spaceships in glorious 3D? Definitely. Being a nameless grunt in a war-torn universe? Sure. Playing a lazy PS2port on the PC? Well, uhm, not that I’m thrilled with the prospect, but guess I could put up with it.

warhammer 40k - fire warrior - pc

The problems with Fire Warrior, you see, are firmly rooted in its dirty console past. The game sports an incredibly annoying auto-save/checkpoints feature that forces you to replay levels again and again (only to be killed seconds before beating them), has pretty clumsy controls, very poor AI, astonishingly few tweaking options and an obviously tacked-on online multi-player side. Then, it doesn’t even try to add anything new to the genre and its sole innovation is a rather failed copy of HALO’s shield system. And don’t get me started on the extreme linearity of the thing or the truly archaic need to collect color-coded keys…

warhammer 40k - fire warrior - pc

On the plus side -and besides the setting- Fire Warrior does manage to do some things rather well. Or at least, well enough to help you relax, turn your brain off and enjoy many hours of frenetic shooting a la Serious Sam. You get 15 different weapons to experiment with, an impressively balanced difficulty curve, a great (or at least engrossing for FPS standards) plot, a variety of well-presented locations, bits of horror, a couple of smart set-pieces, boss battles and tons of enemies. What’s more, there are more than a few fantastic cinematic sequences and I bloody love fantastic cinematic sequences. I am quite fond of them unlockable WH40K artwork goodies too.

So, and in order to reach some sort of a verdict, should you grab a copy? Well, if you don’t mind Fire Warrior’s flaws and lack of originality, care for a simple though highly atmospheric and extremely addictive FPS to last you for a week or so, then, by all means, I think you should. After all, Warhammer 40,000 Fire Warrior is indeed dead cheap. Oh, and Warhammer 40k maniacs that can forget their miniatures for a while will definitely appreciate it too. Mind you, Amazon has quite a few well priced copies lying around last time I checked.

Adrian Smith’s Art

Adrian Smith‘s art needs no introduction, it only asks for bandwidth. Thus, this being a post on Adrian Smith’s art, it’s picture heavy, but words light. In case you’d like to find out more on Mr. Smith, you’d better visit his official website. Or flick through a certain Games Workshop book.

Now, look at the pretty pictures…

 

Warhammer artwork:

Adrian Smith Artwork

Adrian Smith Artwork
Warhammer 40,000:

Adrian Smith ArtworkAdrian Smith Artwork

Black Library artwork:
Adrian Smith Artwork

 

Inquisitor artwork:
Adrian Smith ArtworkAdrian Smith Artwork

 

Sabertooth Games artwork:
Adrian Smith Artwork

 

Chronopia Artwork:

Adrian Smith ArtworkAdrian Smith Artwork

The Interview: Nelson Gonzalez

Nelson Gonzalez, co-founder of Alienware Corporation,

Nelson Gonzalez

Is a gamer born or does it happen over time? What makes one’s idea die on the cutting room floor while the other turns into a blockbuster? Gamers and those within the culture are as diverse as America itself, but we all share similarities. When entering the PC gaming world one has to know the layout, where it came from and where it is going. We can look at the background of some of these pioneers and learn from them and if nothing else enjoy a good story.

Obsolete Gamer has had a chance to interview quite a few from the Alienware and Dell family including Alex Aguila and Arthur Lewis and we were excited when we had a chance to sit down with co-founder of Alienware, Nelson Gonzalez.

 

Can you tell us about what got you into gaming?

 

It was all about the arcade baby! The arcade was the catalyst to my immersion in those virtual worlds. Aside from video games, playing games from an early age was in our DNA. Everybody in the neighborhood was hyper competitive and we played basketball, football, chess, wargames, boardgames and of course…dungeons and dragons! We loved every aspect of gaming and competition.

 

What were some of your favorite games growing up?

 

Too many. I’m pretty old, but I will mention some of the PC games which is probably what you might be interested in:

Civilization, Privateer, Myst, Falcon, X-Com, Alone in the Dark, Red Baron, Pirates, Star Wars TIE/XWing, Aces over Europe/Pacific, Mech Warrior, SimCity, Doom, Quake, Wing Commander Series, Might and Magic Series, Unreal Tournament, Dawn of War, COD Series, Medal of Honor Series

 

Now as far as Alienware part of the name and style of the brand came from your love of science fiction?

 

Absolutely. I grew up watching great SciFi and Horror flicks. Star Trek, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Invaders, UFO, Outer Limits, Twilight Zone, The Time Tunnel, Lost in Space and of course, the X Files to name some of the TV shows. The movie list would be too long to detail. Forbidden Planet, The Day the Earth Stood Still (original), Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Star Wars would be a glimpse into my list though.

 

Alex Aguila and Nelson Gonzalez - Alienware

You and Alex Aguila were friends from an early age correct?

 

Yes, I met Alex when I was 10 or so. 35 + years…way too long! Arthur Lewis which now runs Alienware, has also been a friend since I was like 16. Hector Penton from Origin PC I’ve also known for 30 + years.

We are all big-time gamers.

 

What type of PC games do you and Alex use to play?

 

Right now I think both of us are on sabbatical. We are playing intense Warhammer 40K and its consuming quite a bit of our time. Alex plays a ruthless Space Marine Blood Angel. Hector is a brother of the Hivefleet Leviathan and my path is that of the Eldar.

 

Did you have any rivalries game wise with Alex?

 

Absolutely. Falcon 3.0 comes to mind. Quake 2 was also an immersive bloodbath 🙂

 

What was your first PC?

 

An XT 286 I believe.

 

You also began building PC’s at a young age can you tell us about that?

 

I started building PC’s with 80386 Intel processors with clock speeds of 12MHz…LOL. Then we moved up to 486’s w/VESA bus video cards. Then came Pentium processors and 3D graphic cards (gaming nirvana). The dawn of 3D games such as Castle Wolfenstein and DOOM really hooked us all. I was forced to become the technician of the group so we can play all these games. We played most of those games in DOS and they required some tinkering such as creating boot disks with Autoexec.bat and config.sys files for specific games . Ah… the good ol’ days.

 

Before Alienware you created your own PC building company, can you tell us about that?

 

Well I thought that I could build PC’s locally in South Florida, but soon realized that wasn’t my cup of tea. I really liked high performance and squeezing every bit of juice out of a PC. Building standard PC’s for business’s just didn’t satisfy me. I always felt that if we did something that was specific for the gamers just like us, we could survive as a business.

 

Nelson Gonzalez - Alienware

How did the beginning of Alienware come about?

 

I was with a friend of mine (who happens to be Hector Penton’s brother) in my kitchen one day and I pitched him the idea of custom building PC’s for gamers like us. I asked him what he felt about the name Alienware and he said it sounded pretty cool. At that point it just felt right. I immediately called Alex and asked him if he would join me in this new adventure. I told him that he needed to quit his job, give me like $5K and come to work immediately. To his credit he said yes without hesitation. The funny thing is that we weren’t really speaking to each other at that time and  I can only imagine the conversation he had with the wife that night. 🙂

 

What was the first few months like running Alienware?

 

Boy it was very intense. At times we nervously laughed and secretly prayed 🙂 We had no money, no resources, but somehow we felt confident. We knew if we ‘built it’, they would come. PC Gaming was in its infancy and we had experienced how addictive it really was. We knew we were on to something, but we just didn’t to what extent.

 

What would be one of your favorite moments while at Alienware?

 

There were so many, but that first PC Gamer ’98 Area 51 review written by Gary Whitta was one of those rare moments were I felt validated.

The first online order.

When we hit one million in revenue.

When we reached 100 employees.

When we had Michael Dell visit us at Alienware.

When we sold the company to Dell.

 

Do you have a funny story about Alienware you can share with us?

 

Alex telling me that “no one would order an expensive custom PC online” and then we get 3 orders the first day 🙂

 

How did it feel to see Alienware become so big?

 

Crazy. I knew we wouldn’t have to work for anyone else if we did our ‘thing’ and we performed well. I also felt that if we bent over backwards for the customer and treated our employees like we’d like to be treated, we would be OK. I never imagined it becoming so wildly successful.

 

What was it like during the acquisition by Dell?

 

Awesome. I think Michael really understood us and because we had such a synergistic model, the transition was good and the acquisition made sense.

 

What type of PC do you play games on now?

 

Alienware Aurora i7 3.2GHz

2 X ATI Radeon 5800’s

Win 7 64-bit

 

Do you play console games?

 

No not really. I’ll load up Heavenly Sword or Gran Turismo every once in a while for shits and giggles.

 

What PC games are you currently playing?

 

I was playing DC Universe online, but stopped, we all started playing 40K. I am getting ready for SWTOR and maybe, just maybe Duke Nukem…finally?

 

What would you say your favorite classic game(s) is?

 

If I had to pick one, it would have to be Civilization. Wow… did I burn out on that one.

My second would have to be XCOM. Classic arcade would have to be Joust and Lunar Lander.

 

Space Hulk 2nd Edition

Space Hulk 2nd edition is apparently the 2nd edition of the 1st edition Space Hulk, which was published by the massive miniature making 500lb gorilla, usually referred to as Games Workshop. Thus, the setting of the game is none other than the dark, sci-fi and quite gothic 41st millennium. A time of war, theocracy, aliens and incomprehensible gods, war, famine, war preparations, battles, war and 80s music. And as war seems to feature quite heavily in the imagined year 40,000, a war inspired game shouldn’’t come as a surprise to anyone. The fact that humanity of the distant future is struggling under the boot of a rotting vegetable-Emperor, is quite irrelevant to Space Hulk 2nd edition being a war-themed board game and not a wargame. The Alien, Aliens etc craze that raged throughout the late 70s and 80s should explain the overall feeling/aesthetics of the board game, that are glorified in the following picture (directly scanned from the rulebook):

 spacehulkbox2nd

Silliness aside, the Warhammer 40000 universe, Space Hulk‘s setting, is a very rich in detail and well-portrayed world. An unholy bastard of a fantasy and sci-fi setting it may be, but also one of the better gaming worlds around. Space Hulk 2nd edition (Space Hulk henceforth) is accordingly one of the better board games around. Perhaps the best I’’ve ever played, and one I can’’t recommend enough. It might be difficult to track, but at least it’s easier to find than the really obscure first edition, and it will not cost you a fortune. When it was released, some 10 years ago, it was actually great value for money. You bought an -almost- huge box that contained:

– a 36 page full-color rulebook
– a 52 page full-color mission book
– 10 Space Marine Terminator plastic miniatures of the usual Games Workshop quality
– 20 Genestealer plastic miniatures
– dozens of high quality counters
– almost 100 beautifully illustrated board sections
– 7 dice

Space Hulk‘’s game mechanics are rather simple, but extremely atmospheric and varied (that’’s what a 52 page long mission book is good for). Each player (in this two-player game) controls either the tough-as-nails and hip as anything from the 80s Space Marine Terminators, or the Giger-esque, fast and numerous Genestealers. After sides are picked, the players battle it out using the missions (and dice and miniatures) provided, over the modular cardboard terrain, that represents the narrow corridors of an ancient and derelict spaceship. The rules are simple, simpler than the first editions’’ (no stopwatch, just actions/time units per turn for example), but really interesting and appropriate. For example: the Terminators player can’’t see the Genestealers models, but only blips on his radar, represented by small counters his opponent places and moves over the board. Each counter can stand for either one, more or even none of the aliens; this of course can only be revealed when the Space Marines establish eye contact with the blip. Pure genius and a prime example of how atmospheric Space Hulk is.

In typical board game review fashion let me also inform you, that each game (match?) lasts for about an hour. In not-so-typical fashion I’’ll let you know a small fact: Space Hulk has been successfully ported to video game format. Take a look here. This video game even had a PC and console FPS sequel. Fancy, that.

Oh, and concerning my grading of Space Hulk, I guess …

that’s a (nine and a half) out of (ten).

The Interview: Arthur Lewis

Alienware Armageddon
Alienware Armageddon

Arthur Lewis

The great thing about gamers is that we come in all shapes, sizes and colors and though we move forward in life doing many things, for most of us the gamer inside never dies. When you have a chance to work in an industry that stems from your love of gaming there is not much better than that.

Arthur Lewis is the president of the Alienware Corporation and GM of Dell Gaming at Alienware. Obsolete Gamer had a chance to talk with Arthur at E3 where we learned of his gaming background and an interesting friendly rivalry between him and co-founder of Alienware Alex Aguila.

 

Obsolete Gamer: When did you first get into gaming?

Arthur Lewis: The term “Gaming” is all-encompassing.  I started playing video games when I was very young, but my friends and I played all kinds of games as kids.  Games were very, very important.  We played video games (arcade, console, handheld, computer), and we played board games (from games like Line in the Sand to Talisman to Space Marines), role playing games based on fantasy (e.g., 1st edition D&D), the future (e.g., Warhammer 40k), the wild west (e.g., Boot Hill) and comics (e.g., Marvel) – just to name but a few.  My experience gaming has actually taught me a lot and I find myself looking for the game in all I do.

 

Obsolete Gamer: What were your favorite games to play?

Arthur Lewis: This is a tough one because there were (and are) so many, and I’m sure I’m gonna miss a bunch.  From an arcade perspective, my favorites were (and still are) the oldies but goodies:   Asteroids, Defender, Stargate, Galaga, Space Invaders and, of course, Robotron.   Superbowl Sunday on C64 was classic.  You could pick teams from previous Superbowls and match them against each other.  We played this quite a bit.  Pit Fall, Paper Boy, Mario Brothers definitely were played extensively, and all the sport franchises on PCs, consoles and handhelds.

Then on the PC of course it was Quake, Doom, then Counterstrike.  Neverwinter Nights was also a game I played quite a bit.  Then there was a period that I was into RTS games and played games like Civilization and Age of Empires for many years.  Hats off to Sid Myers for such a fantastic franchise.  Civ was a game we really burned out on.  For the past three years, I’ve been on the MMORPG kick, playing Lord of the Rings Online mainly.

 

Obsolete Gamer: Did you know you wanted to do something gaming related or was it more of a hobby?

Arthur Lewis: Gaming was always (and will always be) a hobby.   The fact that it’s also my job is a HUGE plus!!

 

Obsolete Gamer: Talking both with Alex Aguila and yourself we know you have known each other for a while can you tell us about how you first met?

Arthur Lewis: Alex and I have known each other since 7th grade.  We met in Ms. Stamatinos English class I believe.  We went to the same school through high school.  And we’ve been playing different kinds of games together for the better part of 30 years.

 

Obsolete Gamer: We know from our interview with Alex that you two had a gaming rivalry; can you tell us a little about that?

 

Arthur Lewis: It’s not so much a rivalry as it is friendly competition.  We both like to win.

 

Alienware at E3 2010

Obsolete Gamer: Overall who is the better gamer between you and Alex?

Arthur Lewis: I’d say we’re pretty even.  I’m sure there are some games he’ll win and others I will.  He, however, definitely has more time to practice.  And he has more tools.  He has a full blown arcade in his house!!!

 

Obsolete Gamer: At E3 you told us you still had upcoming Temco football matches against Alex. Alex says you still haven’t played him again. When do you plan to have your Temco football face of and who do you expect to win?

 

Arthur Lewis: LOL.  I don’t know.  I think I like the memory of being the last one to win, so I may leave it at that.

 

Obsolete Gamer: What was it like seeing the company grow and peoples response to your gaming PC’s?

Arthur Lewis: One of the most fulfilling parts of our job is seeing the dedication to the Brand by our customers.  And then to see it translate to all places around the world.  It’s truly amazing.  Last year, we launched Alienware into China for the first time.  We had over 400 media show up!!  Every question I got was around “why did it take you guys so long.”  To see the reach our Brand has, and to see how it’s valued in all of the different parts of the world where we didn’t even know people knew us is both amazing and humbling.

 

Obsolete Gamer: How did you feel during the joining with Dell?

Arthur Lewis: I felt a combination with Dell would enable Alienware to do the kinds of things we otherwise would not have been able to do as a closely held company.  For example, over the course of the past 24 months, we expanded our geographic footprint to the point that we are in every major country in the world, and we support 3.5x the number of languages.  I think we now reach close to 90% of the World’s population.  Another example, is we can leverage Dell’s scale to develop PCs that are conceived from the ground up for truly differentiated products.

 

Alienware Booth E3 2010

Obsolete Gamer: Can you tell us about running the gaming division for Dell/Alienware?

Arthur Lewis: What can I say, at times, I have the best job in the world.

 

Obsolete Gamer: What is your opinion on the high end gaming PC market today?

Arthur Lewis: It’s an exciting time, to be sure.  There is so much going on.  There is a proliferation of great AAA titles on the horizon.  Customers are buying their games in entirely different ways from just a couple of years ago.  And there’s a massive installed-base of 100s of millions of gaming capable PCs.   In our industry, high end gaming has been the bridge to many new and useful technologies.  Over the next couple of years, I see history repeating itself.

 

Obsolete Gamer: Do you think 3D is the future of PC gaming?

Arthur Lewis: I do not believe that 3D is “the” future, but it’s certainly an “important part” of the evolution of video games and all video content for that matter.

 

Obsolete Gamer: What changes do you think need to be made to keep the high end PC market going in the future?

Arthur Lewis: We need more connected devices that allow, in a very simple fashion, content to be shared across multiple, open platforms.

Steam Sale – THQ Complete Pack for $50

THQ Complete Pack
THQ Complete Pack

Steam Sale – THQ Complete Pack for $50

For $50, you get just about all the best games that are out currently from THQ. For that price, from Steam, you get: all of Company of Heroes, Frontlines: Fuel of War, all of Full Spectrum Warrior, Juiced 2, all of Red Faction, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, Saints Row 2, all of Titan Quest, W40K: Dawn of War 2, and all of W40K: Dawn of War.

For the price, it’s worth getting for CoH, Red Faction 1, STALKER, Saints Row 2, and all of the DoW games.

The Company of Heroes games are basically some of the hardest World War 2 RTS games out there. Online play is pretty competitive.

Red Faction 1 was the first FPS game that allowed serious destruction of terrain. It’s an oldie but a goodie, these days.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is like Fallout (3) but MUCH harder and more realistic.

Saints Row 2 is like GTA 4 but funner and crazier.

Many people still like DoW 1 over DoW 2, and it’s worth getting all 4 games and playing them through if you are a fan of the RTS genre, especially since the Warhammer 40K universe is so sick, it’s a great experience sending your troops forth to die for you (In the Name of the Emperor!).

It’s a good time to pick up DoW 2 since the expansion is less than a month away! Our internal link to the promo on the expansion. Click here for our review of DoW 2.

The link to the Steam Sale for the THQ Complete Pack is the following: http://store.steampowered.com/sub/2539/

Dawn of War 2 Chaos Rising promotion

Dawn of War 2 Chaos Rising
DoW2 Chaos Rising promo

Dawn of War 2 Chaos Rising – Steam promotion

The expansion to Dawn of War 2 “Chaos Rising” is now for sale for $30 on Steam. If you get it, they give you a free copy of the GTA clone Saints Row 2 (which to me is a superior game).

Chaos Rising will be available on March 11th, 2010. This expansion to DoW 2 adds the Chaos faction. More stuff is added to the campaign, the ability to warp (or keep them from it) team members, a higher level cap for heroes in the campaign, new gear and toys, 2 new “heroes” for the Last Stand (Chaos and Tyranid), more expansions for multiplayer modes, etc.

Saints Row 2 is basically a much more fun version of GTA 4, except with better comedy and non-stop action and less micro managing stuff that makes GTA annoying now.

The link to get the DoW 2 expansion and Saints Row 2 (bundled) is: http://store.steampowered.com/app/20570/

Games coming out February and March 2010

aliens vs predator new
aliens vs predator new

Games coming out February and March 2010

A lot of big games have been coming out this early 2010. More great games are coming out soon as well. The following are the ones that I like for the next 2 months:

Aliens vs Predator, February 16 for PC

Napoleon: Total War, February 23 for PC

Supreme Commander 2, March 2 for PC

Battlefield: Bad Company 2, March 2 for PC

Warhammer 40k Dawn of War 2 Chaos Rising, March 11 for PC

Assassin’s Creed 2, March 16 for PC

Metro 2033, March 16 for PC

Let’s talk a little bit about them.

Aliens vs Predator
The original AVP is one of my favorite FPS games of all time. It’s actually quite scary and FAST as all hell. The new game is a remake of that game and looks to be done as its spiritual successor.

Napoleon: Total War
The Total War series is always great for (most) war gamers. I look forward to yet another title to this great series.

Supreme Commander 2
Supreme Commander 1 among my friends is known for how badly it killed their systems. I hope 2 is optimized for performance and continues the brilliant interface that part 1 had for handling your big armies. I hope they kept the awesome zoom GUI.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2
I wonder how strong this game will be. Can it compete with everybody out there playing Modern Warfare 2?

Warhammer 40k Dawn of War 2 Chaos Rising
The Dawn of War series I always love. They are the RTS games I usually play the most. I’ve been looking forward to this expansion for a while. Now that more of my friends got DoW 2 I have more people to play with and the game needs more content/factions, so keep them coming Relic/THQ.

Assassin’s Creed 2
Finally! I keep hearing how good this is from my console gamers. (ahem) Well maybe it will be like with Mass Effect 1 where the PC version turns out to be superior later. Either way, I will still play the living hell out of this game, at least until I destroy it.

Metro 2033
This game reminds me of a mix of the game Stalker, the movie Fatherland, and the game Iron Storm. Looks nice!

Link to Dawn of War 2 Soundtrack

Dawn of War 2 Soundtrack Cover
Dawn of War 2 Soundtrack Cover

Free Stuff – Link to Dawn of War 2 Soundtrack

Get the free mp3s for one of the best game soundtracks for a recent game.

http://media.steampowered.com/apps/15620/dow2_soundtrack.rar

If you want to read my Dawn of War 2 review then click here.

If you want to read my Dawn of War 2 Chaos Rising review and strategy guide click here.

Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War 2

Space Marines from Dawn of War 2
Space Marines from Dawn of War 2

Warhammer 40K – Dawn of War 2 Review by Honorabili

 

One Sentence Review:

“Challenging squad combat level based RTS based on the Warhammer 40K universe but based on the game style of Company of Heroes.”

Overall Score:
8 out of 10

If you want to read my review & strategy guide for the campaign of the expansion Chaos Rising, click here.

Overview:

This is the ambitious and different sequel to what is considered (by the computer game industry) the 2004 strategy game of the year. The first game was similar to Starcraft but this one chooses a different route. For the multiplayer aspect/connectivity the game decided to use Games For Windows Live as the backbone. If you have a microphone you will appreciate that the game has a built in voice chat that is used via Games For Windows Live. In general over some older RTS games and introduced in Company of Heroes, the game makes use of cover in the terrain to give defensive bonuses to units.

There are different game modes: single player and co-op storyline campaign, skirmish which you can set to PVE or play with a combination of other players together or against each other in the tradition of online pvp play that’s now commonplace, and the recently added mode of The Last Stand. The campaign consists of you or your gaming partner following a series of linear and also randomly generated conquer and defend missions with your squad of hero units which have leveling through combat/objectives (also a level cap) and the acquisition of relics (wargear) that modify the combat characteristics/tactics of each squad. You can only play as the human Space Marine faction in the campaign. The difficulty is variable. As far as fighting goes, the campaign mainly consists of completing objectives and taking optional ones. As far as skirmish goes, you can opt out to practice against the computer or either do traditional 1 vs 1 and up in groupings of players. For skirmish you can be human Space Marines, Eldar, Tyranids, or Orks. The game includes a ladder system for this mode. In the skirmish mode, this plays out more like a regular RTS with two resources available, power and requisition. You can set the objective to either wipe out the player or hold the most strategic points for x amount of time and so forth. This is a lot like Unreal Tournament 3/Company of Heroes. The newest game mode The Last Stand groups you up with two other human players in a series of levels, each in increasing difficulty, in a game of survival. You get a higher score multiplier for killing all enemies quicker than normal groups, not dying, holding the defense points capped, with all your multiplier being resetted to 1X if any team member dies. There is a high score/ladder system with this mode and the game also keeps track of your best scores for each of the characters you get, those being the Space Marine, Eldar, and Ork.

Fun Factor:

The campaign keeps you playing until you beat it and it’s worth replaying with another player, usually at the highest difficulty. It’s worth also playing alone in the max difficulty as having another player can (sometimes) make it easier. The skirmish mode can be a lot of fun as the game plays out more like a traditional RTS game rather than the storyline hero system that people will get used to playing if they play the campaign a lot. The Last Stand is probably the funnest game more as it creates a good feeling of teamwork, although it can be disappointing to get paired up with a bunch of noobs that will get you killed faster than you think. If you play the game with a good group of friends the game can be a lot funner as you can start to dominate the ladders and scoreboards. Overall the game will keep you entertained for days, maybe weeks and it’s good to go back to it and visit it once in a while especially if they released new maps for it or modified minor parts of the game. For fun factor I give DoW2 an 8 out of 10.

Difficulty Versatility:

As far as the campaign goes, I find it rather easy even at the highest difficulty setting. I’ve tested this and made people who never played the game play it at that difficulty right from the start and they found it easy to dominate, even with non-experienced RTS players. I started to play the game with non-favorite/favorable characters and it’s still easy. Still, it’s worth playing through at least once.

The skirmish mode is much more challenging as you are dealing with human players that most likely have been playing the game already in this mode kicking ass and will school you until you get the hang of it. Don’t be discouraged as this is often the case in RTS games online and if you are a good player and played the tutorial, I mean campaign, you will quickly get used to the units, although the campaign only lets one play Space Marines and skirmish allows more races, so one will need to learn all about them from scratch. If you put in the time and effort, you will find skirmish to be the most rewarding as far as a challenge goes. My advice is that you memorize all the cover points in all maps so optimize defense tactics/cover. Don’t worry most other players you will fight already have done this. 😀

The Last Stand is a lot of fun but make sure that you are grouped with great players that know what you are doing and you make a good team effort to make it to the last stages/top of the ladder. The difficulty can be impossible if you play with noobs but don’t feel bad as the game will soon be over. ;-] With my friends we played the hell out of this mode easily for 1-2 weeks nonstop so it can be exciting for a while. In the final stages of the mode when you are fighting the entire screen filled with enemies the difficulty is literally impossible but that’s the point of the mode. It’s really well done in that sense.

The tutorial (campaign) is a cakewalk so I will punish the game for that. Skirmish is great if you put in your time getting used to it so that’s flawless. The Last Stand is what it is and it works as advertised. Overall I give DoW 2 an 8 out of 10 for this category.

Value:

I bought the game when it first came out for $50 on Steam. The game is currently sold for about $40 on there as of the time of this writing and if you buy a bundle of THQ/Relic games you can get it for partially cheaper cost. It is also sometimes sold on sale via Steam as the game did not sell as well as they anticipated and they are trying to get more people to play it. Since the expansion pack is a few months away as of now it will probably be on sale again often as they might also bundle the game and expansion together when that’s available. Since the game is not that popular right now, I would say that they should sell it for $30 all the time as the base price to encourage more players to get it. Since the game provides many many hours/days of entertainment and it can become a permanent game to keep playing, I give it a 7 out of 10 in value.

UPDATE: (from my DoW2 Chaos Rising review)

On Steam, they sell DoW2 Gold which has the original game and expansion for $40. The link to the Steam sale is the following. If you were like me and already owned DoW2 then for $30 Steam sells the expansion here.

If you never played DoW2, for $40 both the original and expansion for that price is an amazing value because that’s like a month or more worth of gaming right there, easily. $30 for just the expansion is a bit more steep but if you’re a fan of DoW2 and/or Warhammer 40k then you will probably buy it anyways.

Replayability:

The campaign can be played a good 2-3 times before you never want to see it again. The Last Stand can be very entertaining especially if you have a great team going. Since you have 3 heroes which you level up and unlock special abilities/wargear for, you would have to play many (and I mean MANY) matches to unlock all their powers. You don’t necessarily have to do that to get ranked super high in the scoreboard so long as you are good and your team mates play like a well-coordinated military unit. The skirmish mode will have unlimited replayability depending on much much you liked the game already in general and how you approach ladder pvp RTS games in general. I give the replayability a score of 8 out of 10.

Sound:

Most of the voice actors from DoW 1 which are professionals are back and you will quickly recognize them. They are well picked, especially units like the Dreadnought (undead human Robocop ED209 unit of an almost dead human soldier stuck in a killing machine that will forever “live to serve”). The sound effects themselves are great especially hearing the explosions and sounds of machineguns letting loose and Eldar weapons flying through the air (shurikens, etc.). I give the sounds of DoW 2 an 8 out of 10.

Music:

The music for DoW 1 and its expansions are all epic and may be some of the best soundtracks for a war game in the RTS genre. Relic continues this tradition with DoW 2 and they are to be commended. The music of DoW 2 gets a 9 out of 10.

You can download the entire the Dawn of War 2 OST from this link.

Graphics:

This game looks simply wonderful even in Windows XP running DirectX 9. It improves on the graphics of the first game and you will enjoy the spectacular display of combat and gore of the units. One of my favorites is seeing how effective Assault Space Marines can be on a group of unsuspecting targets/victims. ;-] The graphics get an 8 out of 10. They are pretty enough for an RTS but they’re no Assassin’s Creed.

Stability/Reliability:

Overall the game runs pretty well although the netcode can sometimes be laggy. Some people will experience port/NAT errors because of the Games for Windows Live and I researched this and Relic is yet to provide a real fix for it. One might be able to fix this by finding all ports used by Games for Windows Live and forcing them open but I have yet to test this. I found this problem when trying to invite players to co-op campaign and The Last Stand and the game will give a generic NAT routing error message. The game itself is stable as a rock and I haven’t seen the game itself crash to desktop on my hardware. Because of how annoying the NAT error is, and the lag in the netcode, although the game itself is stable, I give this game a 4 out of 10.

Controls:

The controls are pretty standard for RTS games with abilities hotkeyed and CTRL + number to group/remap unit groupings. The camera control, panning, zooming is standard. Since Supreme Commander has much better zooming capabilities and Battle Forge has better, faster scrolling I give the controls a 6 out of 10. No real innovation there but no annoying attempts to try new control methods that are a failure.

Performance:

On a modern machine the game runs decently. My brother bought the game but he was not able to get it running on his old machine which uses an ATI X800 video card so make sure you have a video card that supports enough technology in shader models to even run the game. They recommend having at least an ATI X1600 or nVidia GeForce 6600 GT to just be able to run it. I’ve seen the game run kind of laggy on the machine of a friend of mine that had the latest video drivers, a faster CPU than mine and this was at 1600×1200. Even when I scaled it down to 1024×768 it still ran slower than my older machine so I guess the game is kind of a fickle beast. I give the performance of the game a 7 out of 10 for its lack of support of older machines and unpredictable performance (a faster machine should run the game better but in reality didn’t).

My history with this game:

My friends used to have LAN parties every weekend for 2 years nonstop playing mainly DoW 1 as out favorite RTS game and all its incarnations of expansion packs and patch updates. I bought this game when it first came out for 50 bucks hoping that we could continue playing and since the game had a better online client (Games for Windows Live vs GameSpy which was a pain in part 1 to play online because of port issues) but pretty much I was the only one of my friends that bought this game when it first came out since the game got mixed reviews when it came out and fanboys crying like bitches in forums about how they “ruined” the DoW legacy since they went away from the Starcraft roots. About 5-6 months later a few of my friends finally got the game and it’s been a lot of fun to finally be able to play with them again. 😀