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Dawn of War II: Retribution Beta Impressions

Those kind people at THQ deemed us worthy of a sneak peak at their upcoming strategic epic  Dawn of War II: Retribution, so it’s about time we shared our thoughts and feelings with all our lovely readers to discover if we’ve got another classic on our hands.

To bring you up to speed, you first need to remember that the Dawn of War titles discard most that tedious base building, and huge thousand strong armies going toe to toe. Instead this is a much more streamlined and focussed affair. In fact, the series share a lot with one of THQ’s other, less well known strategy titles, the Company of Heroes titles. Gone is the build and rush gameplay stylings of the Command & Conquer titles. In its place is a title much more befitting of the ‘strategy’ genre.

First of all, Steam lovers will be delighted to hear that gone is the reliance of the Games for Windows Live platform, and instead Retribution is a fully steamworks title. This means that you and your hefty Steam friends list can quickly and easily hook up for some multiplayer action. Something that wasn’t always simple enough on GFWL.

Retribution first of all introduces a touch more in terms of classic RTS fare, with a more hands on approach to upgrading your base and producing different units. Though still a long way from the micro-management required within some of the genre’s elder titles, it does invigorate the series somewhat with just a few more  ounces of brain power required to keep everything ticking along at a satisfactory rate.

The sole brand new race, The Imperial Guard, introduce some quite astonishing technology to proceedings, with some incredible firepower making up for their squishy human bodies. Enormous tanks, and explosive missile launchers are the Imperial Guards method of choice.

They are, however, a touch on the weak side. Not game breakingly so, but enough that you’ll spend a lot more time making sure your units are hunkered down safe and sound rather than simply ploughing forward into a deadly ambush. Each unit can merrily slap together walls and turrets allowing you to set up defensive fortifications quickly and easily, and prove a major plus point to the Imperial Guards armoury.

Once out on the multiplayer battlefield (our game only allowed multiplayer action) things are much the same as before. Each battle ebbs and flows at a fantastic rate, keeping the excitement levels ramped up wonderfully high, but equally allowing enough lows to allow you to catch your breath and plan your next move. A strategist’s brain is the true key to success, as using your chosen race (there are 6 included in total) to its absolute best being an absolute must.

The graphical splendour on offer is certainly impressive, if a tiny step below the very best currently available on our modern PC’s. But considering the amount of thought required, and the sheer number of things going on at any one time, you certainly can’t fault Relic for effort.

From our initial tests, multiplayer wise this is still one of the very best examples out there. And with a whole heap of single player campaigning to come once the game is out at the start of March, all signs are pointing to another Dawn of War classic.

Plus Points

+ New Imperial Guard bring a whole new strategic depth to the gameplay

+ A true strategic brain remains the key to success

You can pre-order Dawn of War 2: Retribution Collector’s Edition right now from ShopTo

Edited On 22 Feb, 2011

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