War Dawns Anew

By Alec Meer on March 6th, 2008 at 8:31 pm.

Soulstorm, the latest ‘expandalone’ (Relic’s word, not mine, and one I feel I should loathe, yet somehow don’t. Possibly because it’s simply too ridiculous to be offended by) for Dawn of War is now on Steam (Edit – not until tomorrow in Europe. Pah. Edit-edit – and now tomorrow is today. Jinkies!). It’s also available from the primitive constructs of brick, plaster and listless teenage clerks our ancestors referred to as ‘shops’.

My earliest tinkerings suggest that, as I had worried, the two new races lack the riotous excess and charm of their more iconic forerunners, but I’ll look closer and establish whether I’m just being snobbish and too hung up on Dreadnoughts. This does have war nuns, after all.

Even aside from that, I have oddly mixed feelings about Soulstorm. Clearly, I would love for it to be ten kinds of awesome – but then I’ll just feel doubly bad that developers Iron Lore have had to close their doors, with the folks involved unlikely to ever leave their mark on Dawn of War again. If it’s mediocre, then I perhaps won’t feel the loss of Iron Lore quite so much, but I’ll be irked that DoW is soured.

There’s also the odd issue of where Soulstorm’s profits go to now. Embarrassingly, I know practically zero about the money side of games development, especially in an odd situation like this. A developer normally goes bust after a game’s been released and failed to sell, not mere weeks before the thing comes out. So, will Iron Lore’s former employees see any further cash from Soulstorm, a game I’d imagine will be a moderate success? Or does it all go straight to THQ’s coffers? Cruel, cruel if so – given their long-standing association with Iron Lore, I’d guess they were one of the publishers who turned down the late studio’s next project, and thus arguably helped sealed their fate.

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29 Comments »

  1. Tak says:

    I’m all about the Sisters (my favorite/2nd favorite table-top race, right with IG) and will most certainly be picking this up. However, in the demo I felt it didn’t live up to Dark Crusade and the base game. Without having the retail in my hands yet, I’m calling it another Winter Assault: decent but nothing spectacular, fixable with a few patches to bring the new races in line with the rest.

    I was *not*, however, a fan of the ‘magic’ system they put in. If it has improved for the retail, awesome and yay, if not, I doubt I’ll take this online.

    Hope I’m wrong though, we’ll see this weekend :D

  2. Falco says:

    Well, the new races are kinda of medicore compared to old ones…

  3. Servitor says:

    “Expandalone” sounds like it would be a brand of Y-fronts, but it’s still not as egregious as “webinar” or “unconference.”

  4. Will Tomas says:

    Knowing next to nothing about the financial situation, I can only guess what happens to the profits, but I’d be frankly shocked if they ended up with anyone other than THQ.

  5. Alex says:

    I’m more interested in the new flying stuff and how that works out in the game.

  6. Alex Hopkinson says:

    At the very least, I’m looking forward to more races to KILL! MAIM! BURN!

    Blood for the blood god! Skulls for the skull throne!

  7. fluffy bunny says:

    I would think that Iron Lore has already been paid for the development, but that there might be some extra payments depending on how well the game does. I also don’t think Iron Lore has been disbanded… has it? I know they’ve had to let everyone go, but the company is still around, isn’t it?

  8. Rook says:

    Couldn’t you have qualified that “now on Steam” statement a little more?

    I mean “now on Steam – unless you happen to be one of the 5.75 billion people that don’t live in North America” or “now on Steam for the people that don’t actually have to pay for their games” or “not on Steam until tomorrow, losers”

  9. seniath says:

    Oh goody, was hoping this would appear. I have DoW/WA/DC on Steam, so would have hated to have to buy this from a shop. I’m all for consistency.

    The only problem is, I have jack all free time between tomorrow and a week tomorrow. Yay for end-of-term deadlines.

  10. hoohoo says:

    so is it worth $40 usd? seems a bit pricey to me. what happened to expansions being $30? i dont care if its expandalone.

    also can someone check my post in the pirate thread please? i posted it last nite and it still says “Your comment is awaiting moderation. ” i spent a half hour looking up the console equivilents of the pc top 10 for comparison, so i would apreciate if it would be checked out and posted. thanks.

  11. Sucram says:

    Was also wondering about the financial side. Since it’s a standalone expansion for Relic’s established series, I guess it’s possible Iron Lore just took a fixed fee to develop it.

    As for the actual game, can’t bring myself to care much. Dawn of War was already really showing it’s age when DC was released post-CoH.

    What does Soulstorm really add? From the demo the Dark Eldar only bring more micromanagement to a game which is starting to look a bit obese from all the expansions. Sisters of Battle will likely be even less interesting.

    The campaign, as far as I can tell, is almost exactly the same as in DC. Which means dozens of bland skirmishes where you play as the same side, in order to get the reward of playing a few vaguely more interesting missions.

  12. RichPowers says:

    Fellow cheapasses can rejoice, for an uber Dawn of War compilation is now in sight. The first game is absolutely amazing — especially if it’s your first introduction into the crazy Warhammer 40k lore. But subsequent expansions feel forced and lightweight in comparison.

    Still, having more than the usual three armies to tinker with is pretty cool.

  13. Alex says:

    I loved the Dark Crusade campaign. Much, much better than the original DoW campaign.

  14. Jonathan says:

    “Blood for the blood god! Skulls for the skull throne!” the horrors of puberty leave no one untouched.

  15. Turin Turambar says:

    Dark Crusade had a campaign? And i thought it was a series of slightly elaborated skirmishes…

  16. Dean says:

    Yeah financially I believe Iron Lore were just paid a fixed fee by either THQ or Relic while Relic worked on DOW2. The intention was always for Relic to run all the post-game patching and community support, Iron Lore were just reponsible for the getting the game out. So it’s a little different to normal development. I imagine had Iron Lore been expecting incoming cash from sales of Soulstorm they wouldn’t have to have closed down at all.

  17. Sombrero says:

    any money that iron lore were due will goto liquidators to pay thier costs or if they’re lucky THQ will buy up whats left of the company.

    Eidos are infamous for forcing this situation, it’s what they done with ion storm and core among others, they withhold payment to developers for whatever reasons they can think of legal or not since they know the developers wont be able to fight any legal battle with no money, so the developers are forced to shut up shop and all of a sudden eidos’ misplaced cheque book appears and buys up anything the developer had either directly or from a liquidator on the cheap and they get all the IP the developer owned for the same price or less as they promised the developer for just the game.

    I wouldn’t be suprised if THQ were pulling a fast one here tbh.

  18. Frosty840 says:

    Didn’t it used to be “Skulls for the throne of Khorne”? Where’s this “skull throne” business come from?
    “Blood for the blood god! Skulls for the throne of Khorne” is a proper war-cry, all blood-curdling and pants-filling.
    “Blood for the blood god! Skulls for the skull throne” has a much more even cadence and is merely a chant, and a droning, silly one at that. I can imagine it being chanted by monks in cloisters, or as some kind of polite, formalised greeting and reply.
    I don’t know who made the change, or why, but I don’t like it in the least.

    Most dissatisfying, I must say.

  19. matte_k says:

    Which game was it that had a unit bark of “More meat for the table!”?

    DoW has some cool unit barks, but some bloody annoying ones too. (I’m thinking in particular of the smug Eldar Bonesinger…)

  20. cheeba says:

    “More meat for the table!” Crikey, that takes me back.

    As for the game, I’m fairly sure it was (one of the few redeeming features of) Turok 2. One of the beasties growled it when you selected them in a deatchmatch game.

  21. Saskwach says:

    Frosty840: I’m with you but I think “Skulls for the skull throne!” was a gaffe, not a real change made by GW. No one would mess with “Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the throne of Khorne!” It’s too good.

  22. Stromko says:

    This ‘expandalone’ business is frankly bullsh*t, and THQ has been pulling it for awhile. Nobody, nobody without the original is going to give a damn about the expansion, and if they liked it they’d buy the original version anyway.

    It is first and foremost an excuse to add 10 – 20$ to the price tag.

    I’m not picking this one up, DoW is old news. Anyway, I’ve picked up all the expansions before this, and once the novelty war off they really only made things worse. Installing an expansion forced me to get the latest patch, which always jacked the balance all to hell.

    By time Winter Assault came around, the Orks were utterly unplayable, and they were my favorite race up until then. Their ‘ork’ resource, a number that went up the more units you had and would unlock more advanced units the higher it got, meant if you took too many losses you couldn’t replace them with high quality units. The orks were the only race with this disadvantage. Meanwhile, the Imperial Guard was just utterly unstoppable, pure meat engines that you just couldn’t be squelched.

    I shouldn’t even have to get into specifics, THQ has such a habit of making the new sides kick ten kinds of ass while gimping the old sides, in order to make people buy the expansions. If that isn’t obvious to everyone here, I’d be surprised.

  23. sigma83 says:

    Then again, sisters of battle… I meant, c’mon.

  24. matt says:

    Well, still no Genestealers and that would make me want to pass this one, unless it builds upon Dark Crusade‘s “campaign” mode, which i enjoyed.
    Don’t know how this on will play, but i was hoping for a kind of the same campaign mode on a larger scale, planet-scale maybe ?
    I so wished that Genestealers would be part of the next extension; if only to balance and counter the Necrons, who are far too powerful if you ask me..

  25. Crispy says:

    The Complete Collection
    - Dawn of War (original game)
    - Winter Assault (expansion pack #1)
    - Dark Crusade (expansion pack #2)
    - Soulstorm (expansion pack #3)

    …is on Play or Amazon UK for £29.99 with free delivery. On Steam no such collection currently exists, so you’d be adding the Platinum Edition and Soulstorm purchases together to give you $69.98 plus UK tax! :S

    Dawn of War: Anthology (same as TCC minus Soulstorm) is £14.99 on Amazon UK, which is probably cheaper than Steam’s equivalent Platinum Edition ($29.95) once you factor in tax.

    Purchasing Soulstorm separately from Play or Amazon UK would cost you a meagre £17.99 versus $40 tax on Steam.

    So… what gives? Suddenly Steam doesn’t seem like the better option, especially if you have an unreliable connection, download limit or plain just like the touchy-feely sensation of a manual twixt your fingers or a new box in your shelf collection.

    I’d hope any Relic or Valve sales rep reading this will see sense and get to work on a Super Platinum (Titanium?) edition otherwise they may just lose out to the online retailers on this.

  26. SwiftRanger says:

    Winter Assault had the best campaign of the whole lot, DC and Soulstorm are mostly skirmish-packs. It’s all about the new races, DE and SoB aren’t as cool as Necron or Tau but they’ll do fine imo.

  27. Nallen says:

    Have they updated the graphics yet? :) /shallow

  28. Homunculus says:

    This is an incredibly shoddy product. The big gotcha so far is that you can use Dark Eldar powers when being an observer in multiplayer games. But there’s all sorts of indications throughout the game that not enough care was brought to bear during its gestation, making it compare unfavourably to its predecessors.

    A few additional choice nuggets gleaned from Relic’s forums:

    * Tankbustas can now attack ground like artillery. The missiles reach the target area, go through the floor, dont explode and dont do any damage to units or buildings. Completely useless.

    * Sisters of Battle Rhino build animation is borked. The ship drops it into the shop, then disappears suddenly instead of flying away (like when building every other vehicle).

    * The old Hellhound targetting bug applies to the new inferno/melta “stream” weapons. You can be damaging one target but visibly aiming and shooting somewhere else altogether.

    * Sisters of battle units have ai bugs where they sit around doing nothing when attacked.

    * Some default movement stances are just plain wrong, the normal Sisters animation is that of running but move slowly and the Archon for the Dark Eldar moves as if he is in fast forward. There seem to be many small things all over the units that seem to do this, simple things such as the ripples of water when wading through water are not on many of the new units

    Reeks of poor quality cash grab throughout, particularly considering superior amateur efforts. If this was Iron Lore’s and THQ’s Quality Assurance modus operandi, <a href=”http://www.quartertothree.com/game-talk/showthread.php?t=42663″Michael Fitch’s complaining should be far more dimly received.

    Perhaps a robust support strategy will patch these concerns away, but it’s two big, big Optimus Prime thumbs down for now.

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