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Platform: PC
Genre: Real-Time Strategy
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Relic
ETA: Fall 2004

 

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Review: Homeworld 2 (PC)

Review: C&C Generals (PC)

 

 

 

 

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Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War

 

It’s about time that a RTS game steps it up to the next level. It seems that every now and then a game sets a precedent for others to follow. Until this point it has been Blizzard. They set it with Starcraft and than again with Warcraft III. In comes the new sheriff. The next game in the popular Warhammer 40K series, Dawn of War, will make its mark just as hard as Warcraft III did, if not harder. If you think that all RTS games are the same, than this is the one title to set itself apart from the rest.

 

warhammer 40k preview          warhammer 40k

 

Dawn of War will feature RTS gameplay with RPG elements on some units. Running on the most advanced N-vidia card I was able to witness the most fluid and detailed gameplay, in any RTS game. With hundreds of units on screen the action truly felt that of an apocalyptic world of nothing but war. Plus they act and behave with incredible AI. If two units get close to one another they discard their long range weapon for a melee attack instead. If a group of units attacks another group, they will sometimes break off in pairs to increase their chances of victory.

 

Unlike many other traditional RTS games Dawn of War will be more strongly based around wreaking havoc than mining gold or chopping down trees. This will have the player focus more on the action aspects of the game rather than the upkeep of a village or protection of a group of buildings or people.

 

The graphics and unit animation were the most incredible part of the demo. Each character has real time shadowing and numerous animations that can be seen throughout a battle. One of the larger characters can perform not only a standard attack, but a few other side animations. For 

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example, a character can perform a punch attack on enemies nearby as well as being able to kick them away. This is all a dream come true of RTS gamers that want that “special something.” Zooming in to see each character reveals a lot more detail than from what you can see from a top-down perspective. The clothes, armor, and character faces are incredibly detailed, without any unwanted jagged edges.

 

warhammer 40k preview          warhammer 40k preview

 

Special units will be able to perform some magic and monstrous damage. One particular Eldar unit used his “psychic storm” attack which decimated a group of units instantly. Using real life effects, the storm will have an “eye” meaning that any units inside the eye will be unharmed, just as in a real storm (more or less).

 

The final version of Dawn of War will have four different races: the space marines, the chaos marines, Orks, and Eldar. Each race will have their own style of war and special abilities. The Orks will have massive numbers and in addition have many “power” orientated units. The Eldar are very specialized units that will be vulnerable to massive attacks, but very dangerous if used as a group. The space marines are very versatile and can be upgraded throughout the game and throughout the battlefield. These differences between the races should test the strength of RTS players.

 

Play online will support up to 8 players, through the GameSpy network in addition to the single player campaign. As of now, the game is set for a Fall 2004 release carrying the potential of being one of the best RTS games to hit PCs since Warcraft III.

 

- Eric Lahiji

element@armchairempire.com

(May 18, 2004)