Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War – The Complete Collection Review

Dawn of War Complete Collection box cover

Brilliant Warhammer 40,000 real-time strategy games in one of the most epic collections ever released.

Story

The Blood Ravens 3rd company, led by Captain Gabriel Angelos arrived on planet Tartarus to battle an unusually severe Ork invasion. It was later confirmed that the forces of Chaos had been manipulating the Orks and after that, Chaos even managed to corrupt some of the Imperial Guard. Chaos’ treachery and corruption even seeped into the high ranks of the Blood Ravens – among Gabriel’s own men. Gabriel never backed down from fighting the evil where ever he found it, but this determination came at a horrible cost – the loss of his once trusted friend Isador Akios.
As the Necron infestation grows larger, new wars break out all across the galaxy. Only the most resolute and toughened will survive.

The Game

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War – The Complete Collection is a collection box containing all of the Dawn of War games, namely;

  • Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War (Game Of The Year Edition)
  • Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War – Winter Assault
  • Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War – Dark Crusade
  • Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War – Soulstorm

The Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War series are real-time strategy games set in the well established dark sci fi setting Warhammer 40,000 is known for. The games depict intergalactic war between different races and factions of the galaxy – true to the original Warhammer 40,000 lore. Warhammer 40,000 is originally a turn-based tabletop game developed by Games Workshop, but the Dawn of War games are quite different from that. Here you’ll be building bases, deploying units and ultimately vanquishing the opposing armies using advanced combat tactics.

The surrounding landscape features are key points in Dawn of War. You can use craters and vegetation as cover for your units, giving them a generous damage resistance against ranged attacks. There are also spots where your units are exposed, making them extra vulnerable – all this is indicated in the game by special icons that appear along with your units, so it’s very easy to keep track of where they’re covered and not.

The morale of your squads is also a central aspect. If a squad suffers casualties and/or severe punishment, they will lose their morale as indicated by a blue morale gauge that appears along with each squad. When a squad breaks due to the loss of morale they’ll announce it by yelling out, and from there on they typically suffer severe penalties in their attack accuracy and movement speed. It is therefore important to keep an eye out for broken squads and it’s often the best practice to withdraw them and let them recover. Certain units have the ability to quickly rally a broken squad, but micromanaging it is up to you.dawn_of_war_8

Content

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War with its expansions is quoted to be the biggest real-time strategy game ever made, and it may well be true. The original Dawn of War has four playable races (Space Marines, Orks, Eldar and Chaos) and a single player campaign mode which has eleven missions.

The Winter Assault expansion adds one new playable race (The Imperial Guard), 20 new multiplayer maps and a single player campaign with twelve missions.

Dark Crusade is a stand alone expansion, meaning that you can either play it as a stand alone game or add it to your installed Dawn of War game, giving you two new playable races (Tau and Necrons), twelve new multiplayer maps and an epic single player campaign that takes place across 25 different pieces of land.

SoulStorm is the final expansion and is also a stand alone one. It adds two new playable races (Sisters of Battle and Dark Eldar), new flying units for all playable races, 29 new multiplayer maps and an equally epic single player campaign as that of Dark Crusade.

Each game of Dawn of War takes place in a map that has numerous Strategic Points. These are key locations that, when controlled by you, give you Resource Repository. This is the main resource used to build most units and buildings. Maps also have Critical Locations and Relics that also give you Repository. Relics allow you to build the strongest units in the game, so they usually have a central role in any game.
Repository builds up automatically once you have captured a strategic point, so Dawn of War is not so much based around obscure build orders and tricky resource management. Rather, your combat strategy is what makes the difference between a win and a loss.

In order to be victorious you must quickly be able to adapt to any given situation. You must know when to withdraw and reposition your units and more importantly you must know what types of units to use against the various enemy units.

With these four games installed, you’ll have nine playable races, more than 100 multiplayer maps, four unique single player campaigns and a bunch of interesting game modes to play with. Dawn of War has full support for online multiplayer and LAN, and also allows you to play Skirmish battles, which basically are like multiplayer games but with AI opponents.
When playing online on the official servers you’re treated with ranking boards and ladder score boards for each of the games.

The single player campaigns of Dawn of War and Winter Assault are standard, linear campaigns where you’ll follow either the Space Marines, The Imperial Guard, Eldar, Chaos or Orks through a series of events. These campaigns are a good place to start if you want to learn about the various races and their unique abilities. Considering that each race has around 15 different units (divided into vehicles, commander units, infantry, heavy infantry and special units) each with their own abilities, it will take a good while to learn about them all. What’s more, many units can be equipped with different weapons which have a huge impact on how they perform in combat.

The single player campaigns in Dark Crusade and Soulstorm are quite unique however. They allow you to play as any of the available races and the campaign itself is based around an overview map of the planet Kronus, or The Kaurava conflict respectively. Along with AI controlled commanders you’ll then battle for supremacy, taking turns conquering and attacking areas with your commander’s army. All armies have a home base which is heavily guarded and reinforced, making you think twice before attacking there. Some areas on the map hold special bonuses which give you advantages over the others, such as the ability to move twice in a turn instead of once, or attack any land instead of just the ones adjacent to your commander.

Attacking a piece of land will take you to the standard real-time strategy Dawn of War game where you are to build units and buildings in order to defeat the opposing army. Depending on the strength of the defending force, the opposing army may start with one or two bases of varying defenses, and units to go along with that.

Your commander can earn special rewards by doing heroic deeds in war. These rewards are typically honor guard units (basically extra strong units) and wargear that boosts your commanders health, damage and may even give him new abilities.

The unique thing about this campaign is that every building that you build on a map is persistent throughout the rest of the campaign (unless it is destroyed, of course). This means that when you are attacked in a land where you have previously been victorious and built a base, you’ll start out with that same base.

The more lands you own, the more Planetary Repository you’ll earn, and this is used to train honor guard units and reinforcing lands that are in your control. As the campaign progresses, the opposition will grow stronger and stronger, meaning that the battles will be harder and harder and of bigger and bigger proportions.

These campaigns are really worthwhile and they alone uplift The Complete Collection.

Whenever you choose to play with AI controlled opponents, you can select from five different AI difficulty settings. This means that you can keep challenging yourself with AI opponents for quite some time. The harder the difficulty setting the more handicap the AI will receive and it also seems to become more aggressive. Giving the AI a handicap is a cheap way of making the game harder, but it doesn’t go to any extremes – you’ll still have a fair chance to beat it even at the “Insane” difficulty setting. With that said, the AI armies are very difficult to beat until you properly understand the inner workings game.

It is obvious that the AI isn’t able to adapt to the given victory conditions very well. This is mostly notable in the Assassination mode where the AI typically just sends the commander unit carelessly into death, basically serving you a free win.
There are also certain situations where you can exploit the AI by baiting them around obstacles, giving you some unfair advantages. This doesn’t really break the game by any means, but it’s obvious that the AI can’t cope with those kinds of mind games.

The biggest strength of the whole Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War – The Complete Collection is its superb replay value. The games are filled with stuff to do and experiment with. You’ll get to explore how The Imperial Guard can station troops in bunkers, how Space Marine scouts can excel at using sniper rifles while infiltrating enemy outposts and how artillery pieces can make a large-scale siege a thrilling and addicting experience. Not to mention the wicked curses of the Chaos spellcasters and the murderous tools of the Orks. Just select your poison, basically.

To top it off, Dawn of War supports customizing the colors and banner emblems of your army. This is the feature that makes army factions like Ultramarines, Goffs and World Eaters appear in the game along with Blood Angels, Bad Moons and Emperor’s Children, to name a few. Obviously the colors is the only difference between them, but it’s nice none the less.

The Dawn of War series has also gotten a wide following of game modders, who make custom maps and even new playable armies for the game.

Multiplayer

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War – The Complete Collection is, perhaps, best played in the multiplayer mode. The huge selection of multiplayer maps (some of which are very original!) and nine unique playable races make for a spectacular experience with close to endless replay value. You can include AI controlled armies as you see fit also, either playing with them as allies or in various team constellations. As the game supports eight players on one map and some of the maps are really huge you’ll never be able to foresee what’s going to happen before the match is over.

In multiplayer (and Skirmish mode) there are seven different victory conditions that you can play with. These are Annihilation, Take and Hold, Assassination, Control Area, Destory HQ, Economic Victory and Sudden Death. You can select any number of these to play with, and they all add their own twist to the game. For example, in Annihilation you must destroy all unit producing buildings of the opponent. In Take and Hold you must hold more than 50% of the Critical Locations of the map for at least seven minutes, and in Assassination you must kill the opposing armies commander units.
You aren’t allowed to adjust any parameters of these game modes however. It would have been nice to be able to adjust how many resources are needed for an Economic Victory, or how many commanders you must assassinate in the Assassination mode, for example.dawn_of_war_10

Controls

In Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War – The Complete Collection you are typically controlling squads rather than single units. Squads are built at the base, but you can reinforce a squad on the fly and those new units will then spawn along with that squad. Each squad can only hold a set number of units however. This means that you can build up your numbers where ever your squads happen to be on the map.
Even though units typically move in squads they aren’t by any means locked into a set position – they can be separated from one another by accident (typically as a result of an explosion or a massive close combat battle).

You can queue multiple orders to a unit or squad by holding down the Shift-key as you issue them, and it will then carry out those orders in the order that you gave them. This is very helpful as it lets you multitask more efficiently.
Controlling the squads is easy and as intuitive as it gets. If an area is packed with units it happens that they won’t respond to your commands as expected and instead appears to ignore it. This is mostly notable around larger units like vehicles. Naturally, units in a game like this must be able to find their own way around obstacles, and for the most part that isn’t a problem for them.

Graphics

Dawn of War does a great job at visualizing the Warhammer 40,000 universe. The game is quite detailed and has the appropriate atmosphere of doom and gloom hanging over it. The animation of the units is brilliant, and seeing them fight, bleed and die is a disturbing sight for sure – but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
There are numerous special animations that take place when someone finishes off an enemy in close combat. It’s a bit overdone, with blood and bodies flying around, but it also makes it that much more satisfying.

The game is rendered in full 3D, and you can rotate and position the camera freely as you see fit. This will allow you to see the action from any angle that you wish, which should be enough to get any Warhammer fan going. Its only drawback is that the view distance is rather limited, which makes all the ground level perspectives look like you are in a fog – it’s not a big deal, but still.
There are some weather effects in place as well that further deepens the presence of all things gloomy and harsh. The various environmental themes that are portrayed are very varied and well made – for example, there are ruined cities, deserts, snowy mountains, jungles, forests, fortresses, river banks, military bases and so on.

Sound

These games also have brilliant sound. The soundtrack is orchestral and conveys the feeling of brutal, endless war where the only light that shines is vain hope and foolish pride. The music instantly catches on and there are many great songs that play during the battles.
The voice acting in the game is also great. There are numerous battle cries, commands and cries for help. Each unit type has its own set of comments and when they’re mixed with earsplitting explosions and the clatter of empty shells spraying against the ground you’ll recognize the brilliance of how this game sounds.

Summary

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War – The Complete Collection is a must-have box. If you’re into real-time strategy games, you can’t go wrong with this one. It has plenty of game modes as well as many armies and units to experiment and play with. The replay value is practically infinite.
The issues that are in the game mostly are about how the AI works, but it’s still a solid game experience that really shines in the multiplayer mode. Along with all its expansions, Dawn of War is one of the best real-time strategy games to date. It goes without saying; these games are epic!

Developed By: Relic Entertainment
Published By: SEGA
Version Reviewed: Windows PC
Genre: Real Time Strategy
Players: 1-8
Released: 2008-03-08
Website: http://store.steampowered.com/app/4570/

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