Retroctopod – Dawn of War II: Galactic War on a Small Scale

In the dark horror of the distant future, there is only war. Or rather three titles in the series dawn of war. If the first one, developed by Relic Entertainment and published by THQ in 2006, had done the school in terms of real-time strategy games, Dawn of War IIhe came to shuffle the cards by offering a mix of strategy, yes, but also tactics with seemingly much more limited combat, but still just as important.

Released in 2009, still being developed by relic and published by THQ, before the great purge that will see these two studios disappear (although part of THQ has returned, in the form of THQ Nordic), Dawn of War II is of course still set in the vast and violent universe of Warhammer 40K, where humanity, existing as a fundamentalist and fascist theocracy, must constantly fight to protect its gains and avoid extinction.

In the Aurelia sub-sector, home to planets where the Blood Ravens, a subset of Space Marines, human warriors re-engineered to make them superhuman, usually find their recruits, ork forces threaten the very existence of the super-soldiers.

Eventually, the player will discover that the real threat is actually a titanic swarm of Tyranids, an alien race that not only adapts its own genetics using the DNA of its enemies, but also devours everything in its path, planet by planet. , before it reverses. to another part of the galaxy. Unlike the other enemies we’ll encounter on our way, the Eldars and Orks, the Tyranids know no fear, don’t really use tactics to surprise you, and won’t wait to get reinforcements before attacking you.

No, the Tyranids are simply monsters: and since their swarms number in the billions, indeed tens of billions, what can even the best warriors in the Imperium do against such foes?

The folks at Relic have always managed to showcase the different factions in the first two dawn of warlike so many races, if you will, with their own characteristics… And this, even though up to three human factions ended up shooting at each other in the third expansion of the first game, Soul storm, not counting the forces of chaos. Units, buildings, tactics… everything was different. Or at least different enough to have to adjust his tactics accordingly.

In this Dawn of War IIpoint of free-for-all, as in dark crusades Where Soul stormprecisely, but rather the return to a linear campaign, as in the very first part of dawn of waras well as in the first expansion, Winter attack.

Image from the game

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Another notable change: it’s the end of base building and unit production… The game now has a style that will appeal much more to tactics enthusiasts such as XCOM, e.g. The player can therefore control a maximum of ten units, divided into five teams (although we usually only control four).

This style forces you to really deal with micromanagement. No more major offensives with several dozen infantrymen, with supporting tanks and war machines to monitor the flanks. Now attacks are limited, but can fully take into account the terrain, which often offers places behind which it is possible to settle for better protection. Or, on the contrary, we will find a defilement on the way which will nullify the strategic effect of our formation and at the same time expose us to enemy fire.

Attacks from the air with soldiers equipped with special armor, bombardment from ships in orbit, grenades, psychic powers… Everything is good to overcome the enemy. And against the seemingly endless hordes of Tyranids, nothing will be too much to survive.

Note, Dawn of War II also forces the player to make strategic choices that can be heartbreaking. We will have to intervene on too many battlefields at the same time, with a limited number of interventions per day and a maximum number of days to complete this titanic task of destroying an evil intelligence that controls billions of monsters with sharp teeth.

Although it may be necessary to spend a few long hours to develop sufficiently well-equipped squads with well-developed skills using experience points from combat, the game becomes a joyful chaos consisting of explosions, bloodthirsty battles, once our Space Marines are sufficient effective and devotional cries to the emperor. Bombard a force of dozens of Tyranids, destroying entire swaths of the landscape at the same time, all in pouring rain, while your commander brandishes his psychic hammer and crushes enemy skulls? It’s a little Monday Dawn of War II.

What we really regret is end-of-level enemies’ tendency to be veritable shooting sponges, with an often staggering number of hit points. And we also regret the game’s desire to “balance” the forces involved, especially in the expansion, Chaos rises. How is it, really, that not only are our equipment, our weapons, and our powers greatly reduced if we keep the same characters, but on top of that, a handful of low-level infantrymen are able to stand up to the worst killing machines in the galaxy?

Other things, Dawn of War II is an excellent game that surprises with the depth of its mechanics. A regrettable departure from the roots of the real-time strategy game, no doubt, but a much-appreciated innovation, coupled with near-flawless execution.

Dawn of War II

Developer: Relic entertainment

Publisher: THQ

Platforms: Windows, Linux, macOS (tested on Windows/Steam)

Game interface available in French

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