RPS Verdict – Dawn of War II: Retribution

By RPS on March 7th, 2011 at 2:36 pm.

In the grim darkness of the future, not all of eHarmony's match-ups proved ideal.

Last week Alec gifted us with his opinionations on Dawn of War II: Retribution, the latest standalone expansion for Relic’s Dawn of War II. When the game was released on Friday Kieron and Quinns, as ever, found themselves in the mood for some bombastic hyper-war. And lo, this very lunchtime the three men gathered and holstered their guns for the official RPS Verdict.

Alec: Gentlethings, we are here to discuss Retribution, the second exandelion for Dawn of War II. It brings to the table six different campaigns and a new race, the Imperial Guard. Let us commence by noting how much of the game we’ve played. For my part, I have played two and a half of the campaigns, and something in the region of 10 multiplayer gmaes
Quinns: I’m more of a rookie. I’ve bashed away at a few campaign missions but found myself distracted by full-on multiplayer matches against the AI. The game’s a toybox, and I wanted all those toys.
Kieron: The interesting thing is that you don’t get the toys that… okay, that’s later. I’m just about to finish my first run through the campaign as the Impy Goo, and played a little of the MP, but only a little.
Alec: how do we feel about the Impy Goo, then? I read one review that dismissed them as basically men with guns, which I felt was to miss the point a little. They are, but they very much emphasise the ludicrousness of dropping men with guns into a battle filled with slathering hellbeasts, ghost-possessed walkers and genetically enhanced superhumans
Kieron: I think you nailed it in your review, really. The Imperial Guard turn 40k into a real horror. There’s only a million space marines in the universe. A Million Imperial Guard will die in a single battle. That’s where they fit, and – as Alec says – I think they do a good job at capturing that.
Quinns: The Tyranids help to turn the game into horror, too. I mean, Chaos is evil, but the Tyranids are… unpleasant. It’s something else. At least with Chaos, each victory feels worthwhile. With the Tyranids? You sacrifice a squad to kill one of these creatures, and for what?

Kieron: Yeah, but if they don’t have anyone to terrorise, it’s not horror.
Alec: Tell you what, I would love to see some Relic internal statistics on Space Marines deaths in DOW 1/2
Kieron: Heh.
Alec: I bet far more than a million marines die per week
Kieron: “This isn’t canon”
Alec: But it is! The tale of the Blood Ravens, at least.
Kieron: It’s best not to think too hard about.
Quinns: I fear that we’re currently driving offroad with all this talk of the 40K universe. Maybe let’s talk about the game itself?
Kieron: We’re dodging the topic though – I love the Imperial Guard. They were “my” army back in the day. The thing being, as Alec said, is that they really go for the meat grinder approach, and at least in the campaign, the fact you have many more units than the heroes is a key difference from the previous DoW2s.
Alec: This is the most I’ve ever liked them. I have felt the “they’re a bit boring” presumption before, but this puts their fiction as much as their function up front.
Kieron: It, for me, makes the game closest to being like real 40k. As in, a few sexy heroes and about 40 other dudes, including the fact there’s not that much tactics in it.
Alec: while I preferred Chaos Rising as a whole, something felt a bit off about DOW2’s take on Chaos. Bit too pantomime baddy, not weird enough by half. The Impy Goo are bang on here though. But yes, let’s talk about the tactics or lack thereof in singleplay. While there’s that great choice between playing it as an RTS or an RPG, the lure of the latter is strong.

Kieron: You were playing it on Normal, yeah?
Alec: Yeah, with some mild experimentation with the next one up. Definitely needed a lot more cover there
Kieron: This is where we hurt ourselves – “it’s not very tactical on normal”, etc. They’ve made the levels much more linear. It’s kind of double-dragon with an army.
Kieron: WHICH SOUNDS AWESOME
Alec: There’s a bit of a review timescale issue there, to be honest. I got passed code very close to the knuckle, and wanted to be able to get through as much as possible in time. But it’s not one which often demands much from me. Playing purely for my own benefit, I would have gone hard and taken a week over each campaign.
Alec: I KNOW I SAID GONE HARD PLEASE DON’T LAUGH
Kieron: Missus. Yeah, and I wouldn’t have. I stomp through it on Normal and then go back.
Quinns: I think this is where I bounced clean off the single player. The scripted single player missions which are more like dungeon crawls don’t appeal to me at all.
Kieron: I couldn’t disagree more. The Single Player has much mroe interesting stuff than the MP.
Quinns: O RLY
Alec: Completely agreed
Kieron: It just has. The MP is basically the same as DoW2 which was a slightly novel RTS remix. The SP is something completely unique to DoW, and every iteration has changed considerably.
Alec: It’s the conquering army of fucked up heroes, not the sporty victory-point tussle of ultimate meaninglessness.
Kieron: ‘xactly. It’s just got a whole lot of character now. Have you played much of the previous SP stuff, Quinns? In Chaos and DoW2? (I want to talk about what changes between thisversion and the last one)
Alec: (it’s worth pointing out that the first three SP missions in Retribution are a bit dull, and hyper-scripted even by its standards)
Quinns: You know, I’ve actually had exactly the same experience with every Dawn of War game I’ve ever played. Try the single player, it doesn’t feel rich enough and I don’t feel challenged, I lose interest in the plot and the fiction, fool around in multiplayer, then leave the whole game alone. Scripting’s all well and good, but only to augment a game that’s engaging in the first place. And I wasn’t gripped.
Kieron: It’s not the scripting though. It’s the options and ability to genuinely grow an army.
Quinns: The RPG elements?

Alec: Yes, you’re fielding your own tailor-made force several missions in.
Kieron: Yeah, totes. And this one nails the number of choices splendidly, and puts them in various places. As in, you unlocking bits of the tech tree over HERE and getting equipment overe THERE.
Alec: Not purely RPG – it’s still a tech tree, but it’s one you’ve defined to some degree.
Kieron: Weighing up whether you want to have faster-lasers on your tanks or give your leader a new coat.
Alec: As I said in the WIT, the sheer, crazy scale of the co-dependant abilities you eventually unlock is remarkable. Big, fat, gleeful carnage.
Kieron: You know what it reminds me of? It’s less the RPG, and more the actual time and effort it takes to make a “real” warhammer army. As in, the investment in your little men. Which simply isn’t there in a 20 minute bout. It’s the coldness of a “build” versus the warmth of recruiting an army.
Alec: This is true. And that’s somewhere the fiction gets in the way – I really don’t want to be Blood Ravens, y’know?
Kieron: Yeah.
Alec: That’s where I’d love the splintering campaign approach to go next, encompassing your aesthetic choices
Kieron: That’s where I’d have segued next. The story really is a bit of bobbins.

Alec: They approach unversality for all six factions here, in a slightly humdrum way, so why not extend it to Any Army?
Kieron: It doesn’t intro any of the information well, and I finished the previous game a month back, and I still don’t remember who the bad guy is.
Alec: Chaos Rising was stronger in that regard, in that at least your playable characters were major parts of the story. In this case, you’re pretty much just a passer-by.
Kieron: I agree, Alec. You know what I’d like it as? Sort of a Elite-esque structure, with you making an army and going out there, doing stuff. If you’re going to be universal, be universal.
Alec: Yeah, the fact they’ve kept it contained to a single galaxy would suit that too. Doing the Soulstorm/Dark Crusade thing a little more
Kieron: Yeah. With a splash of Mass Effect 2, if you see what I mean. (i.e. move the narrative to the character conflicts inside the group, and keep the actual setting as their jobs)
Alec: Quinns – tell us about the multiplayer then, as you’re probably the closed we have to a StarCraft II-head here. Can this compete?
Kieron: Yeah, what you make of it?
Quinns: It’s entertainment. I had fun. I think I started to enjoy the RPG elements that you guys were so happy with- part of that makes it through to the multiplayer, with every squad and hero having all these upgrades to choose from. But for the exact same reason, mechanically speaking it’s a bit messy. Not in such a way that you couldn’t play it to a very high standard, but, I mean, you mentioned StarCraft 2- every unit in SC2 has a role, and has been designed with a ludicrously strict purpose. To counter this, to boost this. Here, we’ve got six sides? Each with all these different units that can be tweaked to fill any number of roles? And there’s a certain opaqueness to the information. Want to know whether you should equip your Space Marine Force Commander with terminator armour? You’ve got to try it out. It reminds me picking equipment in Defense of the Ancients in that respect. Variety has its place, but not necessarily when you’re trying to play a strategy game effectively.

Alec: I’m not sure it’s that broad. There are clearly optimal builds.
Kieron: When I play it, I play it very robustly – as in, knowing that a melta is anti vehicle, and rolling with that. I don’t often think of specific units. And that the game is squad based at least simplifies it a bit. As in, you’re not thinking about shall I make 5 men or 6.
Alec: But certainly it’s not based around that absolute exetermination that SC2 is. It’s about having a moving front, tussling all the while.
Quinns: And I love that about this. But I loved it more in Company of Heroes.
Alec: Yes, me too
Kieron: That’s their novel thing – in the limit of base building and all about the controlling areas. And, yes, I prefer it in CoH.
Alec: CoH had laser focus, every unit made sense for that kind of conflict.
Kieron: It’s worth noting, in case anyone’s wondering, that the Skirmish AI is still abominable.
Alec: They’ve got so much to squeeze into those cap-based maps, and so much of it just isn’t entirely suited. They’ve applied 40K stuff to an exsiting structure, whereas COH built multiplayer specfically for COH
Kieron: Yes. The universe in 40k is simply too big for a game like CoH. In terms of elegance. Er… worth stressing, I do like it though.
Alec: If it was just an infantry game they could have pulled it off much more neatly, I suspect. You could see them trying to do that in the first DOW2, but more big stuff inevitably crept in
Quinns: It’s been pretty enlightening for me just how much of this is you guys talking about the 40k universe. I do think as somebody without quite so much of an interest in it, I’m missing something.
Alec: Yes, I’m conscious of that too. RPS is subjective enough at the best of times, but for DOW we completely bolt the door to the outside world. That’s why the people love us, right? Right? Right? They love us, right?
Kieron: What do you mean?
Quinns: KG: Imagine if we discussed a Mechwarrior game and spent this much time discussing the lore.
Alec: Well, we’re not going on about how well the Impy Goo work as an RTS/RPG faction. We’re going on about how well they evoke the Imperial Guard as believe we know them. There is crossover, but we wear our hearts on our snotty sleeves.

Quinns: Gross.
Kieron: Goddit. That’s what I thought you meant. Yeah. I dunno.
Alec: I actually have no problem with that
Quinns: To sum up, then: final thoughts?
Alec: There are plenty of boring, by the numbers reviews out there if people want ‘em.
Kieron: I think Dawn of War is basically to a certain sort of Britisher what Football Manager is to *another* certain sort of Britisher. I like it a lot.
Alec: Football Manager’s appeal is *so* much broader, though. DOW2 is trying to access an audience far beyond its core.
Quinns: I think it’s crisp, and lovingly made, and it makes me want to play Ruse or SC2.
Kieron: I never said anything about the size of the groups, man.
Quinns: Shit! I haven’t tried out the new Japanese faction in RUSE.
Kieron: Oh – I forgot to say: it lacks polish, which is disappointing. I had an end of level boss fight mess up by having cleared the area of barrels beforehand when wandering through. (I ended up defeating it by just having Las Cannons sit outside its range and pound it down over 10 minutes)
Alec: Yeah, I got a few units stuck, and even had to grenade one lot to death just to free up the popcap and build a replacement. And that some of the cutscenes switch entirely to the space marine perspective, no matter who you’re playing as, makes for a scatty plot.
Kieron: Heh.
Quinns: Haha.
Alec: I like it a lot too, but I don’t think it’s Relic punching quite their hardest. but it is an awful lot of punches all at once.
Kieron: Yeah, it’s good. It’s a step forward in many ways from Chaos. I think they’ll do another one, and I think that’ll be the definitive one. But this is damn good in the meanwhile. Also – on Steam rather than Games for Windows Live. Get this one, surely.

Quinns: Who would you recommend buy it, then?
Alec: I think it’s for absolutely everyone that bounced off StarCraft II. It’s an everyman strategy game, rather than targeting the fans and the athletes. And, frankly, for a whole lot of the people that loved SC2 singleplayer but were terrified by multiplayer.
Kieron: And if it excites you to wonder whether to go for a shotgun or a lascannon, it knows you well.
Alec: 40K-lover or not, it’s filled with accessible points of entry and reasons to invest in what you’re doing.
Kieron: IT’S A WRAP.
Quinns: You’re a wrap.

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110 Comments »

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  1. Triangulon says:

    In terms of a game to fully realise the scope of 40k we need a new Final Liberation!

  2. Koozer says:

    The difficulty you play on makes a huge difference to your enjoyment of the game: Playing the Chaos campaign on Normal, the last mission I played involved me building as many Havocs as I could until I hit the cap, then literally attack-moving to the final objective. I had 2 casualties. I’m also playing through the Orks on Very Hard with a mate, and it’s a thousand times more entertaining; abilities matter, items matter, and you have to pay attention. You might even fail a mission, imagine! It also involves blowing each other up quite a lot.

    • Jake says:

      I tried Chaos Rising on a harder setting and it was all good fun except for the Avatar and final demon which I could only beat through basically exploiting with artillery and constant running away/resurrecting. The demon especially was such a rubbish fight it left me a bit down on the game over all, now I am dubious about playing Retribution on a hard setting.

    • mondomau says:

      That wasn’t just you – I think everyone complained about that boss fight. I’m hoping Relic took it under advisement this time around – I’m only 20 minutes in, so I don’t have a clue at present.

    • Meat Circus says:

      Orbital bombardment takes off 90% in a single hit from the Great Unclean One.

      Then just let your Force Commander twat him the rest of the way with healing from Jonah and suppressing fire from Avitus and Davian Thule.

      Down in two minutes.

    • jonfitt says:

      The boss fights in Chaos Rising were bobbins.

      I think they were designed to be exploited by a squad build I didn’t have because it wasn’t useful in any other situation in the game preceding. Classic difficulty spike.

      I only passed the Avatar and Demon by exploiting the run away button and whittling away health. For the demon I had people who essentially could do no damage and were used as resurrection runners.

    • Jake says:

      Yeah I killed the first Avatar with Orbital Bombardment and then never took it again as it felt like cheating. Though I am not sure what would have been worse – using a hugely overpowered weapon to easily kill the final boss, or chipping his health down over an eternity of constant running away. Either way it is anticlimactic.

    • bleeters says:

      Retribution doesn’t have any ‘auto attack your heroes for half their health’ bosses that really spring to mind, though the very first leans more on the side of annoyance. Generally, you’re assaulting a tough but not especially hard hitting vehicle, character or structure whilst it rains in reinforcements or artillery.

      Not exactly the pinnacle of boss design still, but my finger wasn’t hovering over the ‘retreat’ key all that much.

    • Lilliput King says:

      I played on Primarch.

      I opened with both of my Orbital Bombardments on the GUO which took maybe 1/5 of his health. The army died pretty much instantly to his vast waves of reinforcements, so I got Avitus to fire off maybe 35-40 artillery strikes to finish him off.

      Took over an hour.

  3. Palodin says:

    No love for Last Stand? The new map/hero for that is one of the best things about this expansion, especially compared to the relatively poor campaign

    • McDan says:

      Would have to agree, last stand is one of the best things about DOW2 in general, adn the new map and here means I’m spending most of my time playing that. Which then leads me to a really hard decision each time regarding playing either campagns or last stand.

  4. Mr_Hands says:

    I’ll wrap your mom.

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    Richard Beer says:

    When are they making Dawn of War 3? Seems like we’re getting an awful lot of expantaloons. Presumably there are plans?

    • Xocrates says:

      The original DoW got 3 expansions adding a total of 5 races to the base 4. If we ignore Soulstorm it got 2 expansions and 3 new races.

      At this point DoW 2 is at 2 expansions and 2 new races.

      Since I don’t expect an eventual sequel to have much in the way of gameplay changes, it still feels both too soon for either a rooster reset or graphical update, meaning that I still expect 1 or 2 (standalone) expansions before a DoW 3

    • Tokamak says:

      I could’ve sworn I heard somewhere that this was to be the last DoW2 game. I’m kind of hoping it is, as the core gameplay is starting to show it’s age for me, at least.

      Anyhow, I was rather disappointed by that the multi-race campaign thing just ended up being a bunch of recycled maps – really was hoping for a bit more variety in that regards ala Dark Crusade/Soul Storm. The Honor Guards are a nice addition, but at harder difficulties they don’t scale well compared to heroes.

      Didn’t bother with multiplayer yet, and seeing that it’s more of the same, I probably won’t at all. This hybrid RPG/RTS system is fun to play in single player, but absolutely rage-inducing at times in the multiplayer. Whoever though having stuff like random chance of units doing special attacks/sync kills… I’d very much like to do bad things to them.

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      Stompywitch says:

      I read that as well, Tokomak, but iirc it said the next installment would be more like CoHO – and that’s dead now, it doesn’t bode well for DoW3. Hopefully, they’ve changed their plans.

      I absolutely love Retribution so far, the Ork campaign alone was worth the price – I’d been waiting for that since one was promised as an expansion for DoW2’s base set. As far as I’m concerned, everything else is a bonus. Have started Marine, Bug and Eldar campaigns, pity no Dreadnought hero though.

      What did nark me was the Hive Mind saying “Tyranid” in the first mission, though. They shouldn’t use that word! It’s the Imperium’s word for them.

  6. Xocrates says:

    “It’s worth noting, in case anyone’s wondering, that the Skirmish AI is still abominable.”

    Aye, this saddens me a bit, particularly since it seems the AI only has the vaguest of ideas on how to deal with the Impy Goo. Of the handful of 1v1 AI skirmishes vs Hard AI only once did I have less than 500 points by game end and a kill/death ratio around 3-5 (with IG!) with my army consisting of a couple sentinels and around 3 guardsmen squads.

    Campaign wise, there are a couple outstanding levels and overall it’s lots of fun, but suffers from being designed to fit all races (which also leads to several rather silly moments). I find it more conductive to co-op though, since it means you just replay it with other races without worrying too much with the plot.

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    The Sombrero Kid says:

    I’m largely in agreement, based on my experiences, except i would say objectively, as well as subjectively, it’s a better multiplayer game than starcraft 2.

    I’m coming at it from a perspective of someone who finds Warhammer boring & loves relic & everything they’ve done.

    • Xocrates says:

      How the hell is DoW 2 multiplayer “Objectively” better that Sc2 when the mechanical differences are mostly a matter of personal preference?

      Heck, I love both games, but the one I’ll play will be based on the kind of game I feel like playing at the time, especially since I recognize strengths and weaknesses to both, as well as others that are strengths and/or weaknesses depending of preference.

    • Rhin says:

      There’s probably some truth in “objective standards for a competitive game”. There seems to be some quality that makes certain games in a genre (CounterStrike, MvC 2, Starcraft 1, etc etc.) disproportionately popular for competitive events such as the World Cyber Games, etc. versus casual players.

      That being said, the RPS review makes it seem like DoW:R is kind of completely the opposite of an objectively good competitive game.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      “would say objectively, as well as subjectively, it’s a better multiplayer game than starcraft 2.”

      And you would be wrong.

      “There seems to be some quality that makes certain games in a genre (CounterStrike, MvC 2, Starcraft 1, etc etc.) disproportionately popular for competitive events such as the World Cyber Games, etc. versus casual players.”

      Yes, it’s called balance and lack of random elements, which sadly, DoW2 has issues with in abundance. Hell I was talking to one of the guys who competed in the ESL DoW2 stuff and he was telling me about how high level players would dance around power generators because of the way the hit-chance worked, damage would scatter to the power generators rather than hitting the target sometimes, so they would take less damage.

      Games that get to a popular, competitive level are those that are balanced and lack as much randomness as humanly possible.

  8. bleeters says:

    I kept track of Scout Marine losses the last time I co-oped DoW2 on primarch difficulty.

    765.

    Speaking of difficulty, I’ve generally been bashing about on hard, but run into the same issues I had with Dawn of War 2 originally. Past a certain point, my various Space Marines became nigh invulnerable. Martellus could call in dreadnoughts. Cyrus could stealth, forever, and snipe/grenade/det pack without breaking stealth, forever. My force commander healed with every hit recieved, making him practically immortal against the large numbers of walking bullet hoses that make up the bulk of the enemy.

    Starting a new campaign as Orks on very hard, I hit a wall against the third mission which, try as I might, I couldn’t get past. Turning it down to hard, I ended up in the same position as my Space Marines did. Drag select heroes. Click enemy. Occasionally hit healing ability. Being able to change the difficulty mid campaign would be extremely helpful.

  9. Archonsod says:

    I think the series as a whole has suffered from the same problem in every game – the campaign is far too repetitive. It’s alleviated slightly here because it’s slightly shorter and many of the optional missions offer something beyond the usual hunt the boss, or at least skew it in an interesting way. The problem is this is mitigated through the weaker story which diminishes the motivation to go through yet another boss hunt map.

    I’m not sure how easy it would be to fix it while retaining the RPG/RTS balance.

  10. MrThingy says:

    Really enjoying DoW2: Retribution.
    Not 100% convinced that the Imperial Guard ‘works’ that well in-game compared to the others. A lot of frustrating hunting through squads in the middle of battle, especially annoying when you have some stuck in buildings.
    I like the Sergeant though! A Sean Bean / Sharpe-esque character. :)

    In fact, Imp Guard = Sharpe in Space

    • mondomau says:

      If that appeals to you, and you haven’t already read them, I’d strongly suggest you pick up the Gaunt’s Ghosts books by Dan Abnett – maybe not the first one, which was kind of like the pilot episode, still worth reading to get the full story.
      Generally though, It’s Sharpe + Star Wars + Warhammer, and it’s fan-bloody-tastic.

    • Ultra Superior says:

      Everything from Dan Abnett is worth reading, especially his Inquisition trilogies – EISENHORN and RAVENOR. Imperial Guard in retribution comes with Inquisitor and it is HEAVILY inspired by all Abnett’s novels.

      I found a loot in the game – Eisenhorn’s sword BARBARISATER which is a very important relic in Abnett’s books. I’ve slain the final boss with this sword – it would make Eisenhorn proud.

      A fine little homage to the author who helped define the Imperial Guard & Inquisition in W40K

    • Archonsod says:

      You can get the Gaunt’s Ghost novels collected by cycle now. Much cheaper than individually.

    • MrThingy says:

      Thanks for the recommendation guys! I think I saw one of these in WHSmith (had a Commissar on the front), will definately take a look. Cheers!

    • realityflaw says:

      Yep Dan’s stuff is fan freaking tastic, fast paced, heavy hitting, just the right balance of epic and small scale battles, and characters you actually care for, there were several times when someone died or seemed to that I would have to just put the book down for a minute and mourn their passing, and this from a guy who thought Thomas Covenant was a big whiner.

  11. frenz0rz says:

    Im afraid I’m one of those who fits into the crowd chanting “they’re just men with guns!”. Despite everything I love about the 40K universe, I was so dissapointed when I learnt that the next expansion would focus on the Impy Goo. Hopefully the next expansion, assuming there is one, will focus on either the Tau or the Necrons (hopefully both!), two armies with plenty of wierd outlandish units which accomodate a number of different tactics.

    For example, one thing I loved about the Tau in Dark Crusade was how your Fire Warriors’ range was actually larger than their LoS. This encouraged you to scout ahead of your main force with stealth suits. If you got charged and swamped by a thousand orcs in melee, you could simply fall back and release the hounds. If you needed to lock a position down, a couple of bunkered down broadsides defended by a small screening force of Kroot would do the trick. They were a varied, mobile force, with tons of tactical options; something DoW2 has yet to implement.

    As for the Necrons, I can imagine a slow-moving sledgehammer of an army would prove quite a challenge to play as in a multiplayer mode which focuses on controlling victory points and rewards quick, mobile map domination. And well, they’re just plain scarier than Tyranids.

    • Nick says:

      Funnily enough your scout and shoot example works with the Imperial Guard heroes in this game..

    • frenz0rz says:

      @Nick

      True, but it still doesnt apply to entire squads, such as with the Tau. My point was that, with the use of stealth suits, you could attack with an entire force of Fire Warriors without the enemy being able to return fire. This forces a heavily bunkered down turtler into either a foolhardy offense, or a hasty retreat. You’d be suprised how many people panic under such circumstances.

    • Archonsod says:

      Fire Warriors were never quite as panic inducing as Earthshaker barrages though. In fact the IG were worse than the Tau for that, with Firewarriors you could always drop a stormboy/assault marine/tellyporta et al on them. The favourite IG trick was to send in one of their infantry squads as a sacrifice, who took somewhat longer to deal with due to numbers and all the while you’d be facing a pounding from their artillery set up half a map away.
      Although by T2 they didn’t even need that, just set the batteries up in the centre of the map and use the HQ scanner to reveal the enemy base, then drop Earthshakers and similar until nothing was left standing. Worst nightmare was facing a team of three IG players, often the first you’d know about an incoming attack was when your HQ disappeared under a barrage of explosions.

    • bleeters says:

      Recon-kit stormtrooper squads scouting whilst infiltrated, followed by screen wide artillery barrage whenever they turned up more than a handful of enemies is largely how I got through the imperial guard campaign :P

  12. Nick says:

    Its actually not hard at all on hard, I had to try very hard for cover to be even useful. Its quite fun, but the level design is so restrictive the majority of the time, not to mention small, that it grates sooner than it could have on multiple playthroughs. Still, at least they finally tied up that loose end from the original DoW SP campaign..

    And Cyrus can still solo 99% of the game.

  13. eightbitrobot says:

    Why isn’t this a podcast?

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    TheApologist says:

    In my opinionation, the sun is gonna always shine

  15. Bilbo says:

    On the subject of the Imperial Guard (which was a big focus of the article and, seemingly, the game) I agree that Retribution does a reasonable job of capturing the spirit, but I think it’s held back by the game’s format overall. The IG in 40k lore are all about attrition and numbers, but DOW2 doesn’t really play well to that side of the story. I’ve enjoyed DOW2 as an experiment and as a narrative property, but I think it’ll take a larger scale game – something more in the region of the original Supreme Commander – for the game’s setting to really flourish, and in so doing appeal to that broader audience.

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    mcnostril says:

    Played through Ork and SM on normal, and I wish I had done so on hard or harder.

    By the way, if you have the DLC, unless you’re playing on the harder difficulties (and even then…), I’d suggest not using it. It looks cool, but it’s horrendously overpowered – Diomedes for example, because totally unkillable – and he’s already very hard to kill.

    I really enjoyed this expansion, but I do miss the extra polish and focus of Chaos Rising. The story was presented better, the wargear hunt was more fun (because there was so much of it) and the interface was neater (I’m a sucker for a nice interface).
    The campaign could also have used a few more open maps ; not open-ended (although that would be nice), but actually more spacious. Practically all of the campaign maps are pretty cramped, which can get problematic with some races: the Ork Warboss pathfinding is still terrible, and with the massive mob you can gather (it sure is a proper waaaaaagh this time), it can get pretty frustrating at times.
    Still, great fun, and worth the price of admission just for the Ork talky heads. My main gripe is that there was not more Kaptin Bluddflagg. Everything that comes out of his mouth is gold.

    “Not now Mister Nailbrain, I’m still sassin’ dis stomped up Eldar.”

    • Antsy says:

      “Everything that comes out of his mouth is gold.”

      Indeed, I genuinely laughed out loud at “I like yer hat by the way…”

    • ceriphim says:

      Agreed, about the DLCs. This is one of the main issues I have with Retribution (Finished SM campaign on Regular, about 4-6 missions into IG on Hard).

      1 – DLC was MASSIVELY overpowered for SMs (don’t know about others). Game-breaking, in fact. I could have easily used the DLC equipment for the entire game, but at some point I just got bored and wanted to see other stuff on him. Item porn was a LOT of the fun in DoW2:CR for me, with the DLC it’s all superfluous. Yes, I know I could have ignored it, but I shouldn’t have to. Why would you include items so ridiculously overpowered and give them to me at level 1?

      2 – Level 10 cap… Really? We’ve got a level cap of what, 30, in CR? I couldn’t believe what I was reading when I googled level cap for Retribution. As in point #1, item/wargear porn is a huge part of the fun from CR. I don’t think you even get anything mildly fun until the fifth or sixth mission out of 16, which means you’re level 4 or 5 already. I get that the game is short, but come on, 10 levels is it? Just about kills the replayability for each race. Also, with the honor guard squads your incentive really is to upgrade them, why not throw in a TON more items to make the choice really difficult, or at least give you some variety?

      3 – No side-missions once you’ve won. The only mission you can replay is the final one, and with how terrible and incredibly rigid the story-line is, I don’t think I’d want to do that. Sure, the defense missions in DoW2 were repetitive to the point of I-just-don’t-give-a-shit-anymore, but give us a little freedom. Once I’ve done your three optional missions and completed the story-based ones I’m DONE with your game? Sure CR was even worse in this regard, but it’s still very disappointing.

      This is coming from someone who has devoured the entire DoW series and was eagerly awaiting Retribution. I’ve been very disappointed with the direction DoW2 went but have been steadily getting more and more excited with the changes they’ve made. I even started having quite a bit of fun 3/4 of the way through the SM campaign, basically making Diomedes a legendary fluff-style larger-than-life leader at the head of numerous squads of Assault Marines and Terminators. It’s just too bad the fun came to such a sudden halt.

    • Archonsod says:

      “By the way, if you have the DLC, unless you’re playing on the harder difficulties (and even then…), I’d suggest not using it. It looks cool, but it’s horrendously overpowered – Diomedes for example, because totally unkillable – and he’s already very hard to kill.”

      You don’t need the DLC for that, the hero abilities get to the excessively ludicrous by the mid-end game as is, before you even look at equipment. In fact my Commissar / Lord combo of healing everyone whenever they were attacking or attacked was completely wasted on account of Sgt Merrick’s ability to place det packs while infiltrating.
      By comparison the DLC wasn’t that great. It’s all mid-tier stuff which can usually be replaced by better gear by the third or fourth mission.

    • Eschatos says:

      IG DLC wasn’t quite so overpowered, I stopped using the weapon after a few missions but the other stuff was useful through the entire campaign.

  17. westyfield says:

    What happened to Optimus Thumbs?

  18. itsallcrap says:

    I’m always impressed by how clear these discussions are.

    Are they actually a transcript of an IM chat as they appear to be? Only if I attempted such a thing with three of my mates the whole thing would decline into anarchy and chaos within two minutes.

  19. Soon says:

    I think I’m wanting it to go in a direction that it’s unlikely to.
    But if they focus on the squad-level tactics, I’d like to see an end to the standard RTS maps. I want X-COM style maps. Multi-level beasts, with explorable buildings. Where a dreadnaught can crash through a wall and my scouts run up the stairs to take a vantage point at the windows and take shots at the tyranids emerging from the labyrinthine sewers beneath the streets.

    I want to get overwhelmed on the streets, and flee to take refuge in a big-fuck-off Gothic cathedral. Set up a heavy-bolter at the altar, pointing right at the doors, and waiting for them to come.

    It’s hard to adapt this to different races though, I suppose. But anyway. I still appreciate the game, but it’s far too repetitive.

  20. Seraphim2150 says:

    Anyone else think the Imperial Guard Commander is the most British character ever put in a game?

    • Dominic White says:

      “Its head will look magnificent on my wall. Aim low.”

      Yes, Lord-General Castor is a magnificent bushy-mustachioed bastard.

    • Archonsod says:

      I liked the fact they concentrated largely on the commander / sergeant rather than the Commissars for once.

    • Bhazor says:

      I’ve always assumed the Guardsmen, especially the comanders, were based on British colonial forces. Hence the seemingly Flashman inspired Gaunts Ghosts and Ciaphas Cain books.
      Drive me closer! I want to hit it with my sword!

      (Now in game, fantastic!)

    • MrThingy says:

      Would be nice to have Stephen Fry doing his “General Melchett” for one of the characters.

    • Imbecile says:

      Completely unrelated, but I’d just like to say that Flashman is awesome. That is all.

    • Archonsod says:

      Each of the IG regiments were themed around historical or fictional forces. The Mordians were basically the Prussians from the Franco-Prussian war, the Tallarn mix Lawrence of Arabia with Dune, Praetorians are British colonial troops, right down to the red coats and pith helmets, Cadians are based on the Starship Troopers from the novels, while Catachan are the stereotypical US movie marines.

    • Tetragrammaton says:

      What Imbecile said.

  21. Dominic White says:

    Really, the Orks steal the show in this one. Best Orky story since Deff Skwadron, and the best ending out of all the characters by a fairly long shot. Bluddflagg really does bring just the right level of comic relief to an otherwise ridiculously dark and bloody story.

  22. Alexander Norris says:

    Can someone confirm that you can actually play this like an RPG, as in with four individual dudes for each faction rather than four squads? It’s a large part of the draw for me as I don’t much like RTSes.

    Also, it’s worth mentioning that if you have Retribution you can’t play with anyone who doesn’t since it no longer uses GfWL, and you can’t run CR and have the Guard in it.

    • Xocrates says:

      Yes, you can play with heroes only (except Tyranids where you’ll always need to bring units along), though you can build regular units regardless, and in at least a few missions it might be recommended or even required.

    • bleeters says:

      You get four hero characters, one of which is mandatory to bring along. The others can be swapped out for honour guard, which work as ‘better versions of normal squads’ and increase your population cap, allowing you to field more regular units per level.

      On a given level, you obtain requesition/power from smashing open supply crates of capturing certain points, which you can either spend on ordering in units (the cost is refunded if they’re destroyed) or on temporarily buffing your heroes for the remainder of the mission. Afterwards, you generally get the choice between picking wargear or a new/upgraded squad.

      In short, you can field an army or run in with four super-human killing machines, or any point inbetween.

  23. Bfox says:

    Yeah, but aint the Mechwarrior Lore all crap anyway?

  24. Bhazor says:

    Another vote here for CoH being a better core game than DoW2. I also prefer the original Dow over the new one for a similar reason as Quinns said. DoW 2 is just too messy, it isn’t always clear how effective a unit is, unit AI seems to really struggle with using cover (in particular units with special weapons standing just out of range so they can’t return fire) and it just doesn’t feel as tactile as CoH where everything behaved as you’d expect. In DoW 2 it’s far too common to see an orc get back up after a rocket to the face and melee weapons with knock back effects can really slow your commander down as he then end ups scattering his enemy all over the screen and starts running back and forth to biff ‘em again.

    It is a lot of fun and it gets the lore almost spot on but it still seems slightly hollow to me.

    • Ultra Superior says:

      I don’t like the rigid rock/paper/shot…scissors metagame.

      It still is in Dow2, but the huge variety makes it much more fun.

      CoH …. is specific, but in comparison to DoW2 – it is pale, desaturated and timid. DoW2 is bold, colorful and behind this, much deeper than CoH.

      I think that after playing X matches/watching replays – you can see through the glitter and ridiculousness of WH40K and appreciate the marvelously designed strategy behind it all.

  25. Scatterbrainpaul says:

    Reading this review made it kind of feel like Quinns had been invited to a 40k threesome, but wasn’t allowed to take part, but was made to stand and watch, and hand out sandwiches

    • Ultra Superior says:

      Awww…..thats just awful.

      Um…

      …and then they’ve asked him about the PornStarCraft he likes to watch a lot. “Tell us what you think about our threesome, ’cause we know you watch a lot of pornstar-craft and you kind of have it in your hands, so tell us – how are we doing here?”

      *chuckle*

  26. Longrat says:

    I was very disappointed by the length, amount of loot and the ridiculously boring last boss.

    Played the SP on hard with orks and, humorous though it was, didn’t really satisfy me. The game left me thinking that it was okay which, by relic’s standards, is very lacking. I’m totally useless in the multiplayer so unfortunately, I feel like my 30 bucks weren’t exactly justified seeing as I finished the game in some 5 hours and really don’t feel like replaying it.

    Here’s to hoping the next expansion isn’t the same missions. The story could’ve been so more interesting if it actually told separate parts, a la starcraft.

    • Premium User Badge

      mcnostril says:

      Relic still hasn’t figured out how to do engaging boss fights.

      I’m not sure it’s all that possible in this format.
      I’d rather have had some super onslaught of units than one big unit with abilities that takes forever to kill. Those set pieces are the most fun IMO, where swarms of enemies are thrown at you and you need to use your abilities to keep all the different types of attacker in check (or if you’re playing in certain difficulties, attack move and watch the screen EXPLODE), and they could have pushed that further instead of trying to make bigger, harder to kill enemies.

      It does all feel rather… tiny. They’ve allowed us to mass these giant armies but given neither the room to use them fully, nor the amount of enemies one would expect to fight.

      I still had lots of fun with it, but the more I play it, the more I get frustrated at what could have been (basically the same feeling I had with the original DoW2).

    • Ultra Superior says:

      Don’t give up on multiplayer!!

      – they’ve much MUCH better skill matchmaking system now – you’ll play against equally skilled players most of the time.

      Believe me, multiplayer in Retribution is 1000x more fun than single. Especially with friends of course.

      Hunting down Baneblade controlled by other human ? :D

      Priceless.

    • Premium User Badge

      FriendlyFire says:

      Boss fights in RTS games should always be sieges. The best “boss” you can imagine in a RTS is a huge fortress with insane defenses and a squishy inside.

      A singular epic unit just doesn’t fit the genre.

  27. Premium User Badge

    TheTourist314 says:

    No comments on Last Stand (mainly the addition of Lord General)?

    • Ultra Superior says:

      it’s insane – building turrets, summoning human cannonfodder and ordering carpet bombing… all with quotes like:

      “Its head will make a marvelous trophy, aim low.” (attacking carnifex)

      “I want that vermin dead on the double.” (attacking tyranid)

      “You die when I say you die!” (reviving ally)

    • DrGonzo says:

      Last Stand is addictive and great fun IMHO. But it is a bummer that I lost my max level Space Marine and Ork :(

    • Ultra Superior says:

      And why did you ?

      I just clicked

      transfer data from previous game

      and the spell was done. The only thing lost were the army painter custom color schemes, but maybe it’s because I messed with that in retribution Beta.

    • Premium User Badge

      mcnostril says:

      Perhaps he was screwed over by gfwl like I was.

      Somehow my gfwl account got linked to my xbox live account (maybe cos I used the same email or something). Except that account hadn’t been in use for like 3 years, so one day MS decides to pull the plug on it and it totally borks my gfwl account (at least that’s what I think happened, because otherwise it means my account just exploded for no reason). With all my stats. And all my heroes. After days of emailing/calling support (I could go on and on about how gfwl is the epitome of evil), I finally gave up, but man do I miss my level 20 Mek.
      Not really looking forward to grinding it all out again…

    • Ultra Superior says:

      One of my friends had exactly the same experience with GFWL :(
      It’s a shame. I don’t have xbox (I have the other stupid box, mostly for bluray which I never watch) maybe that’s what saved me.

  28. Mutak says:

    Is there any game that will actually mimic the warhammer 40k tabletop play experience, and by that, i mean turn-based? None of my friends who used to play 40k are into rts.

    • Ultra Superior says:

      there are some really old and awful ones… with horrible graphics. (By nowadays standards)

      Chaos Gate or something….

      Then there is one mediocre for PSP…

      But, if someone made proper turn-based W40K game – I’d buy it ten times just to support the idea.

      Turnbased W40K tactical game is #1 on my wishlist of improbable-to-be-fulfilled wishes.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Someone mentioned it earlier. Final Liberation. It may have dated graphically, but in my head it was all quite pretty and hand drawn. It also has fantastically camp cut scenes, and I would say is really a must play for any 40k obsessive if you can get hold of it.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      I think a turnbased 40k (or straight Warhammer) game would all but kill the actual table top version, and so GW are unlikely to allow it.
      Mind you, people that play 40k now would still play it (or grow apart from it like I did), and they’d pick up a big chunk of players that don’t have the time/money/space/friends for a table top game but still would really love to be able to sit down and have the computer take care of all the boring bits like keeping track of stats etc.
      Like me, I’d love that.

    • Mutak says:

      Yeah…well…telephones, fax machines and email killed the telegraph, but i’m not mourning its loss. It’s probably past time for the tabletop game to take a back seat. The possibilities for a digital version are so much greater.

      And btw, for those suggesting Final Liberation, i’m interested in multiplayer so i can play against my old tabletop gaming buddies who now live in different states.

  29. 7rigger says:

    I’ve been enjoying the single player, but the mid mission unskippable cutscenes are an absolute turn off. The game will stop you playing to waffle some tosh about the plot, while showing you sweeping views of the battlefield – or worse, it will stop you in the middle of getting an objective to say ‘Get this objective’

    It’s far worse for it than the last two were, and it makes the first few missions an absolute slog. I’m just starting it again on hard, and I really can’t be arsed listening to it all again.

  30. jonfitt says:

    OOOh DOW2 Defence of the Ancients map. Make it happen Relic!

  31. Noterist says:

    Quinns is a man dear to my heart.

    Completely unrelated, he seems to talk sense when it comes to strategy games!

  32. Vinraith says:

    Kieron: I agree, Alec. You know what I’d like it as? Sort of a Elite-esque structure, with you making an army and going out there, doing stuff. If you’re going to be universal, be universal.
    Alec: Yeah, the fact they’ve kept it contained to a single galaxy would suit that too. Doing the Soulstorm/Dark Crusade thing a little more
    Kieron: Yeah. With a splash of Mass Effect 2, if you see what I mean. (i.e. move the narrative to the character conflicts inside the group, and keep the actual setting as their jobs)

    Relic, listen to these fine and wise gentlemen, for they shall show you the way.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      The thing about Relic – to their credit, they really *do* experiment with the structure of their SP games. You never know.

      KG

  33. Wulf says:

    I’m always scared to admit that I love Dawn of War II but I’m not at all a fan of StarCraft II. This is because once in the past I said that it was more accessible and it allowed me to use my own strategies rather than the expected ones, I found it very emergent in that regard. This… I kind of got my head chewed out by for StarCraft II fans, and I wasn’t even saying SC II was a bad game (never have).

    It’s oddly gratifying and vilifying to see RPS say much the same things that I always have about this game. It’s not the perfect game, sure, but from my perspective I’ve never met a perfect game, let alone a perfect strategy game (it’s so much more difficult in that field due to the complexity). But it is a good game and a very enjoyable one. That’s all that matters to me, really. But then I’ll admit I’m very forgiving to games that go out of their way to try and be interesting and fun.

    • Xocrates says:

      To be fair, the only reason Sc2 even has “expected” strategies is because people played and studied it so damn much. In a way it saddens me that a lot of people seem scared of Starcraft because people only ever mention as if the only way to play is high level play, which most people will never experience and which has vastly different expectations.

      Frankly, it seems likely the only reason other strategy games seem emergent is because people haven’t been so loud about “optimum builds”.

      (PS: don’t take this as criticism or me disagreeing. This is just my borderline OCD tendency to “correct” people talking)

  34. Iskariot says:

    I love good, interesting skirmish games against the AI. It is that what keeps me playing DoW1 over and over again for years now. DOW2 does not offer good skirmish games against the AI at all. It is bad, very bad at skirmish. The skirmish AI is a wreck.

  35. FRIENDLYUNIT says:

    So… Is CoH still worth the purchase?

    • Premium User Badge

      Arathain says:

      It is an awfully good game. I’m inclined to think that the CoH weapons feel far punchier than the DoW2 ones, even though the tech level is different. I think it’s down to the hefty and believable environmental damage in CoH is a bit more prevalent, and important, than it is here. CoH also has the finest artillery ever. Orbital bombardments have nothing on a Calliope strike.

  36. mandrill says:

    I do enjoy the DoW games. I play them against my Tau loving stepson. I do find myself wondering though when we’re going to get an Epic scale 40k strategy game. 40k: Total War anyone?

    • RegisteredUser says:

      From what I gather someone already tried and failed that one.

  37. mandrill says:

    What is Safty and how do you guarantee it?

  38. misterk says:

    I demand optimus prime thumbs!

  39. Ruuster says:

    I get the vibe you guys haven’t actually checked out the Tyranid campaign, that plays significantly differently to the rest of them.
    You only have one ‘Hero’ unit (Hive Tyrant) in the campaign. For the other three slots, you get a choice between two squads/units for each squad. In the beginning of the campaign, your only choice for these slots is between basic melee and basic ranged. As you unlock the ability to build units via mission rewards, they show up in the starting sqauds. At the end, assuming you unlock all the squads, you have three choices to make between two different units in your starting squad.
    These starting squads also count towards your unit capacity for the mission. Which really makes you think about which squads you want to drop. Which really depends on which squads you have available and upgraded, which creates more important choices when you get your mission rewards; the only way to upgrade your units – remember that you only get certain choices in your mission rewards so if you don’t take a certain reward, it may not come up again for 2-3 missions. When you’re trying to get a full-upgraded squad of Genestealers, you have to sacrifice alot.
    In addition, the Hive Tyrant upgrades are awesome, and as the only Hero, it’s difficult to choose which of the trees to go down (and once again, you’ll want to tailor the units you select, unlock, and upgrade to tailor to your Tyrant’s spec).
    Anyways, the Tyranids are definately worth a couple of missions looksee, even if it’s just in normal. I’m playing the Space Marines now, and it’s nowhere near as fun (though I’m holding out hopes for Impy Goo).

  40. Jonathan says:

    Orks are the best xenos, but orks with hats are better.

  41. Stitched says:

    Anyone trying this for Windows 7 64-bit (I know that it’s supposed to be considered Beta for it) ? Sounds like everyone is having a great time.

    Me? I am plagued by graphic glitches, ranging from the benign “make terrain objects black” to “total pixelated mesh ending in BSOD”.

    All other games, of course, work fine (read: not my card, thank you very much).

  42. RegisteredUser says:

    Thanks. I love young games with accessible points of entry.

  43. Gojiro0 says:

    I’ve finished Retribution as Impy Goo on “normal” and have started through again on “hard” – I don’t think I’ll drop below that difficulty for any of the other campaigns. I absolutely loved playing as the Guard and decided that on my way back through my rule would be absolutely no war gear chosen for mission bonuses. Heroes feel overpowered, even on Hard, so I’ve stared leaning more on the infantry and boy do I love watching the carnage unfold. I’d love an editor – I’d keep playing this for a good long time but I needs me steady supply of maps.