Soulstorm Demo


Looking at our big list of games we’re planning to preview over the next few weeks, which is of course absolutely exhaustive and not at all limited to whatever we remembered off the tops of our heads, there really aren’t a lot of RTSes on it. In fact, there’re only two, and we’ve written about one already. Um.

It’s not, for once, because we’re meatheaded cretins. It’s because there isn’t that much to get excited about at the moment, tiny-tank wise. Which is odd, as we’ve just come from an extraordinarily good couple of years for RTS – Company of Heroes (x2), Supreme Commander (x2), World in Conflict, Command & Conquer 3, Medieval II… Let’s hope there’s a load of explodey goodies due to be revealed in the coming months.

One to look forward to that isn’t on our list (largely because, let’s be honest, we know pretty much exactly what it’s gonna be like), is the third expansion for Dawn of War. So I’ll talk a little about it here instead.

The demo’s just hit, containing two levels, both of which feature one of Soulstorm’s two new races, The Dark Eldar. No sign of second newbies the Sisters of Battle here, which is just as well, cos Kieron’d berate me for not thinking up any good Sisters of Mercy gags.

Having spent a couple of hours with the demo, I can safely say that anyone complaining Dawn of War is too old to warrant another expansion is a big silly dumb-dumb poohead. It’s hardly a cutting-edge engine, but it’s still more than capable of making a great-looking game. The art style, and especially the violence, is exaggerated enough that mucky textures and coarse lighting really don’t matter.

If I were a Dark Eldar, I'd want to refer to my race by a better name than 'Dark Eldar.' That's like Scottish people calling themselves Cold English.

The Dark Eldar scrub up pretty well, all steampunk-meets-torture-porn, though they’re not distinctive enough in play style to placate those of us whining that there aren’t any Tyranids. They’re a giggle, but there’s no sense of their doing anything markedly different. This is Dawn of War as Dawn of War does.

The exception is the titular Soul stuff, which sees ’em harvesting the spirits of the fallen to fuel mega-powers. This’ll be interesting when knee-deep in multiplay, as there are two different ways to do it. Either you send your builder units (and, Dark Eldar being a little bit S&M, these wail “no! not the whip again!” and suchlike when selected. Sometimes, I really tire of RTS unit barks. Can’t they just grunt or something instead?) over to a scene of recent carnage to collect up the conveniently bright pink souls. Or you upgrade your Slave Quarters – the population cap buildings – with torture chambers, which automatically spawn souls for the builders to harvest. Clearly this is much more convenient than having your puny builders out in the field, but if you do choose that upgrade, it disables the Slave Quarters’ other possible upgrade, a morale-busting defensive turret-thing. The Dark Eldar really don’t have much in the way of defense structures otherwise, so basically you’re weighing up convenience over safety.

The Soul powers themselves don’t really seem quite devastating enough to warrant such a hoo-hah, though the top level one, a big pink clould o’doom you can temporarily steer around the battlefield, is wonderfully silly – you’re attacking Space Marines with a 1950s special effect.


Unusually, the entire Dark Eldar tech tree is in the demo, but the half-wit difficulty setting the Space Marines you’re battling are stuck with in this case means there isn’t a lot of scope to really put the new race through its paces. I like it though – I’ll certainly play Soulstorm, no matter that it’s heavily traditional. Though the ropey cutscenes will prompt much frustrated hammering on the Escape key, if this demo’s anything to go by.

On, and there’s a flying unit in there too. There haven’t been fliers in DoW as yet, and to be honest ‘hoverers’ would be a better description, based on this.

Here demo here. It weighs in at 1.2 gigabytes, which is frankly obscene for a four-year-old RTS.


  1. Sensei_Fuji says:

    looks interesting, but then again any game with space marines and giant vortexes(sp?) does..*cry*

  2. Kieron Gillen says:

    I really should transcribe the “Your Game Is Nothing Compared To Starcraft II!” tape.


  3. Seniath says:

    “Dark Eldar being a little bit S&M, these wail “no! not the whip again!” and suchlike when selected. Sometimes, I really tire of RTS unit barks. Can’t they just grunt or something instead?”
    My main gripe with SupCom was that unit reponses were nothing more than bleeps.

    How many Imperium Peggles is 1.2GB?

  4. Mr.Brand says:

    just post the audio, Kieron :)

    I haven’t bought any of the DoW games yet, since I rented from Metaboli for a while. Does this mean I have to wait for another gold/platinum/unobtainium edition to get the whole experience?

    P.S.:It’s “vortices”.

  5. Optimaximal says:

    **Obligatory Sisters of Mercy Joke**

    The Enemy is attacking your Temple… Of Love!!!

  6. Jocho says:

    Dunno if it can really count as “2008”, but as it probably won’t release this year, but Empire(s ?): Total War would perhaps make it to the list? Total War + colonisation + Sea Battles! And a lot of graphical improvements, too.

    That’s an excitening RTS right there. And it’s just as likely to be 08 as Starcraft 2 is (very un-, that is).

  7. Optimaximal says:


    The above post is made on the understanding that the Sisters of Battle have temples…

  8. Kieron Gillen says:

    Empire is on the list.


  9. Jocho says:

    So this wasn’t the other one? Sorry, then, must have misunderstood the line.

  10. SirNuke says:

    My only complaint about the demo is the intro movie. Compared to the excellent intro movies in Dawn of War and Dark Crusade, Soulstorm’s lacks creativity and polish. I hope it’s just a placeholder.

  11. Optimaximal says:

    Better than Winter Assault… That was just recycling…

    Dark Crusade’s was using the ingame engine, which was just cheap.

  12. Fumarole says:

    Any game which includes a unit that has Princess Leia-like slave girls attached to it gets a thumbs up from me.

  13. cullnean says:

    spend money on the game not the intro thats what i say

  14. Phil says:

    Oh, I don’t know, the intro for the first game was worth a few quid of anyone’s money.

  15. Lou says:

    What about that other one that looks so pomising that I’ve already forgotten the name? Um. Topdown view, forest area with huge tree on the screenshots, promising to revolutionise the genre with elements from, um, some other genres etc.

  16. Pete says:

    Feels like another Winter Assault, if that. Good but not amazing. Now, Dark Crusade, somehow I found that to be god damn great, both the campaign structure and the new dynamics the two races added. Dark Eldar and Nuns with Guns, however, meh.

    And who the fuck decided that putting big white Dark Eldar helmets on all their buildings looked anything but ridiculous?Frankly it already screams “Relic did not make this”. Maybe the full expansion will surprise me.

  17. Matt says:

    The dark eldar definitely score points for going into battle on a pleasure barge.

  18. Acosta says:

    More than the absence of Sisters, what I really miss from this demo is an advance of the new metamap system. Dark Crusade had a neat idea, but the execution was a bit lacking and the map could be easily abused.

    I have played the demo and I like it, the engine has been crearly surpassed by Company of Heroes engine -for keepings things in home- but is still really nice and effective. However, my main problem with this games was it not being fully developed by Relic, but I am more optimistic now -not that I consider IronLore a bad studio by any strench of imagination-.

    Furthermore, I am still not really sure about the flying units and how they are going to affect to the game, this is other of my main doubts.

    And I can´t resist it, sorry, something that I think Alec and Kieron will get (is part of a funny situation in Relic offices): Starcraft is way better!.

  19. Sucram says:

    Come to daddy. Come to daddy. Come to daddy.

    Demo impressions: Aaaaaaaaaaaargh

  20. Chemix says:

    I honestly feel that these expansions are practically throw aways from the Relic scrap pile. Dawn of War deserves a real sequel, in a new engine, and possibly with a bit of artsy style to boot. The lighting alone makes the DoW series feel rather depressing, and WH40K is already something that requires a lot of work on it’s own to avoid boiling down to a pit of raw cynicism, apathy and pure hatred.

    I understand that it’s a harsh universe, but who really wants to live in a constantly harsh and sad environment. There can be humor, even in darkness, and the orks are the best example of this.

  21. DigitalSignalX says:

    Having your resource refresh rate and thus tech tree climbing capability directly tied to your territory gains makes for better game play in the 40k series. As opposed to “SupCom” and it’s “build-as-much-as-you-can” style of resource gathering, or SC’s “reclaim enemy/unused bases” style.

  22. WCAYPAHWAT says:

    depressing? cynicism? apathy and hatred?

    In the 41st millennium, there is only WAR!!!

  23. Nallen says:

    Which frankly leaves you wondering what it’s good for.

  24. Kieron Gillen says:

    Acosta: I really do have all THAT conversation on tape. It’s quite the thing to hear.


  25. Acosta says:

    Kieron: That would be amusing to hear again, I had that recorded but I erased it. I was SO close of starting to laugh… it was a really comical situation (probably the Relic producer didn’t think the same, but it was admirable how he dealt with it with such a straight face).

  26. Anthony Damiani says:

    Behold, the true face of episodic gaming: one release and a stand-alone expansion every six months.

  27. Kieron Gillen says:

    Two things are stopping me transcribing it:

    1) It seems mean to be bullying a peer by doing so, no matter how embarassing it was. That said, I’m not going to *name* him, if only because I don’t know his name.
    2) I wonder whether an actual transcription will capture how insane it actually was – he may appear cheerily sane and just asking hard-hitting questions or something.


  28. Rock, Paper, Shotgun: Alt-Tab To Hide Our Shame » Blog Archive » Polish Journalist Versus Relic Bloodbath says:

    […] Soulstorm is out and it looks like Dawn of War 2 may be imminent, I thought it may be fun to transcribe a […]