An action packed thrill ride in the making folks!
Now, allow me to say this before we continue: I don't like Soulstorm...at all. I understand that some people do and the first obvious thing people will attack me with is "But Witty! It's exactly like the other games, what's the problem?". And that's a fair question, I liked the last 3 so what's wrong with another right? Well, it's not so much the ENTIRE game I have a problem with, it's little aspects that really get my goat.
First off, a little history. Soulstorm is the last game in the original Dawn of War series and, consequently, the last one I played. Supprisingly, it's also the one I took longest to finish taking an entire month the first time I played it through, why? That can be boiled down to one single race: DARK ELDAR.
The fabulous Eldar
Seriously, Dark Eldar are cheating bastards! But allow me to explain. Again, we have a new plot, this time focusing on an entire system rather than one planet; the Kauruva System. This time, the stakes have been upped slightly. A warp storm has hit the system and thusly all space travel is impossible (except for the Tau of course if you look at Games Workshop logic, but moving on). To this effect, all of our favourite races must travel with ancient Eldar warp gates...no, I'm not kidding, the racist zealots are actualy using alien tech to get to where they're going. All of the races from Dark Crusade are back, along with 2 new additions. The Sisters of Battle and the Dark Eldar. Now, let's get down to brass tax here, the Sisters are useless and the Dark Eldar cheat! Now, ok, that's probably unfair so let me elaborate a little bit. When you get down to it, the Sisters are some sort of ballance between the IG and the Space Marines. For instance, the Sisters use bolters but lack access to alot of other Space Marine weaponry. One of the things they use alot of however is fire, lots of fire. Seriously, almost all of their special weapons are fire based from Flamers to Multi-Meltas. They also have very strange tanks, they have the usual fare of Rhino's and the like but they also have combat walkers right out of the Matrix and a tank which is specifficaly designed to shoot fire in wide circles while playing organ music. For some reason, the Sisters are even more zealous than the Space Marines in some ways, how does that make sense? They're combat nuns and the Marines are the freaking Angels of the Death! Hell, even the Sisters buildings are church shaped for the most part! Their ultimate unit is a fucking Angel!
She kicks ass for the lord!
Oh but it gets better, let us speak of the cheaters that are the Dark Eldar. Now, they're pretty much just corrupted Eldar who are in to S&M so most of their units are pretty weak. But, they have one large advantage: Their builders don't need to stick around to build the structures. You see, the builders plant a 'seed' and then the building builds itself, they can go off and do other stuff. And for some reason, the AI insists on building on over half the map! You will end up with a near constant wave of attacks if you're not carefull, unlike the other races which take a breather. And this is where the game REALLY messes you around.
Gameplay is almost entirely unchanged from the previous titles with two exceptions. The first is that you now have air units, a single one for each race, does this make a difference? Not really, they all suck unless you use them with an escort of en masse. And the seccond difference is the victory conditions, remember in Dark Crusade when the only condition was destruction of the enemy's HQ? Well, now you have to destroy every one of the enemy's buildings. Yep. Every. Single. One. You have no idea how tedious that is, especialy when faceing the Dark Eldar! I know the idea was to give a feel of total domination of the enemy or maybe make the battles harder, but imagein if you will this scenario. You've been fighting for a good 20 miniutes, you finnaly have the enemy beaten BUT a single builder made it out alive, maybe he was off building a listening outpost or something. He builds a new HQ and the cycle starts over again. Now, yes, some buildings are exempt. You don't have to destroy the plasma generators or the listening outpost things but the rest of them have to be. The only time this condition does not apply is during the main base sieges which, thankfully, are back. What saddens me the most about the game though is the total destruction some of the races felt. For a start, the Space Marines are being lead by the most retarded, idiotic commanders they could muster, Indrick Boreal. This guy is so stupid he took half the chapter with him and STILL lost, TO THE IMPERIAL GUARD. I'm not kidding, canonically the Imperial Guard win this game. All because Boreal was too busy yammering about how awesome his Spess Mehreens are and how they are the Empra's Fureh.
The only time they're ever awesome
Oh, and Gorgutz returns again, awesome right? Well, yes, except they changed his voice actor to a deeper, gruffier version who has no funny one liners.
Oh but wait! I'm leaveing out an entire section from the games, the multiplayer! It's exactly the same as every other RTS multiplayer known to man. You build things, you train dudes, you kill the enemies dudes and repeat. The popular tactic to the zerg rush the hell out of the enemy leading to some very funny lines of anger from them, but it never happened to me....honest.
To say Soulstorm is bad is not really a correct statement, a better one would be...different. Which is technically the exact problem, it's different but not in a good way. Fundumentally it's no different to the last game or even the first game, but with poorer voice acting, a rediculously unfair at times victory condition and cheating AI it feels more like a chore than a pleasure to play through. Oh and why do the Imperial Guard win? They're cannon fodder! After Soulstorm, Dawn of War would take a little break. Next time, we'll take a look at Relics latest attempt at the franchise, Dawn of War 2, yes, a direct sequel. Wherein the game gets a complete overhaul and it pretty much just says "Screw Soulstorm, it didn't happen!"
Final Score: 3/5