Dawn of war: GARbat evolved
Ah Games Workshop, one of my favourite haunts when I go out to the mall on occasion. I used to bring out the box of models, crack the player handbook and wile away the hours conquering the plains and retaking them from hordes of Orks, Eldar and the occasional Necron invasion. As you can probably tell my favourite part of Games Workshop is the Warhammer 40K series. It's...well grim and dark. My favourite races are the Space Marines and the Tau, both I happen to be fairly decent with. Hell, in ages past I was known as One Shot for never missing a combat dice roll for an entire week, dunno how I managed it. And since the film based on the series is right around the corner I think it's a good idea for me to look back on one of the best series of games to come out of the Warhammer 40K name, Dawn of War.
Featureing Sir Not Appearing In This Film
Before I get into the meat of it though. Allow me to explain the plot of the Warhammer 40K universe in some detail. As the old addage goes, "In grim darkness of the 40th Millenium, there is only war". Earth has been renamed Terra and all of mankind is now ruled over the a man simply known as The Emperor. The Emperor has ruled for over a thousand years and he revered as a God. This 'Imperium of Man' now stretches through most of the known universe. Unfortunately, it's nowhere near that simple. All of mankind may be united, but they are under seige from all sides from aliens and heretics. The Eldar, one of the oldest races in the universe (though now heading towards extinction) view humans as an arrogant race who have no idea what damage they do to the worlds. The Orks, battle hungry green aliens who, as their more famous warboss Gorgutz puts it, only enjoy 3 things: Fighting, fighting and banners. The Necrons, machines who's only goal is the complete eradication of all life and the arch enemies of the Eldar. The Tyranids, alien beasts who devour everything in their path, without number and without mercy. The youngest race of all, the Tau, who somehow are technically advanced though only recently heading into space. And the forces of Chaos, fallen humans who turn to demons for power and corrupt the land around them. These races all fight for undisputed supremecy in the universe for their God, for their people of for da great waaaagh (yeah, Orks don't have war, they have waaaagh).
Orks: There are NEVER enough
The Imperium of man, in particular, has many branches to it's nature. Apart from their usual rank and file soldiers they have the Space Marines. They are bionically enhanced soldiers who are split into 'chapters' which go off fighting the various enemies they have. Dawn of War in particular focuses on one of these chapters known as the Blood Ravens. Canonically the Blood Ravens have a very mysterious past, as very little of their history remains even aboard their capital ship and even who their founder was is forgotten to them. Sadly, this doesn't come up in the series untill Dawn of War 2. In the first game, the world of Tartarus is under attack by the Orks, and the Blood Ravens third company are dispatched to help the Imperium soldiers stationed there. At first, it would appear to be rather straight forward, however as the game goes on it is revealed there is far more to the invasion than meets the eye and an even stronger force is pointing the Orks in the right directions. Betrayals, plot twists and OP'd tanks abound, but you don't wanna know about all that, you want to get the bear grit. Well let's see.
It plays exactly like every kind of RTS game ever. Make a squad, move a squad, kill enemy squad, rinse and repeat. But it's pretty fun to do so, praise be that it's not an annoying grind of a play through. The enemy AI never really tries to out 'think' you but it certainly tries to out 'fight' you. Often you'll find yourself faced by a massive force that's pretty hard to beat, especialy late game. Although sadly, with the objectives being more than the simple 'capture and defend this point' it's hard to fully exploit the Blood Ravens battle potential and often you'll find yourself going for the simple infantry rush to hammer at the enemy untill you reach the objective. There are no aircraft, and there won't be untill Soulstorm, so get used to ground only combat. APC's are pretty much useless unless you're going for a bull rush to the goal, which I don't personaly recomend as often the enemy will follow you even when you're speeding away. And lastly, keep in mind that the enemy CAN and WILL go after your base. Don't think because you're battleing at the other end of the map that the enemy isn't sending something after your base. Often simple objective turrets help to ward them off but if that doesn't work keep a squad or two back, just incase. One thing to note is in this game the Imperial Guard (the rank and file of the Imperium) do NOT suck. In every game from then on they only act as meat shields unless they attack en masse, but more on that next time.
Considering the already established canon the game had before it, it does a very good job of sticking to it. Indeed, it keeps everyone in character and delivers what could possibly be....a good performance?
Final Score: 4/5.