Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dawn of war 2: chaos rising review

I pre bought DOW2:CR on steam. It came with a free game, saints row 2 but the offer is now over so its back to $29.99.

It's a standalone game so you do not need dow2. You can buy the gold edition on steam for $39.99 which includes both games.

First, a disclaimer. As a warhammer 40k fan, I might be a little biased. And I wont post any spoilers about the game's plot so dont worry.

As for hardware requirements, I have a intel c2d e8200, 4 gigs ram and a radeon 4850 video card and I kept going below 20 fps at max settings @ 1280x1024. I suspect my CPU is the bottleneck so I had to go down to medium settings. At max settings, it does look a little prettier than I remember for the original game. I dont know if this will be affected by any future patches from the developers.

New to this game is the corruption system. Based on actions that you did or did not do or on your choice of wargear, all members of your party except Davian Thule can have corruption points added or removed. Your corruption level afects the ending and some abilities/wargear have corruption level requirements so choose carefully.

The level cap is increased to 30 . If you dont have an old DOW2 game, you'll get level 20 characters wit pre-set stats and wargear.

New to the interface are optional speeches by the characters. These are all optional and do not affect your game in anyway except to convey some additional background information or to give some tips on your mission. As a special note, NPC's who have these optional speeches have their own static picture and our hot governess, governor Derosa looks ... stupid in her static portrait. Her animation and voice when talking to the player is fortunately unchanged from the original game.

Another new thing in the interface is the showing of the damage modifiers for the weapon. A weapon can have a zero to  125% damage modifier. For example an anti personel weapon like a bolter or a chainsword may have give 100% damage for light infantry but 0%-10% damage to vehicles. The dmage value for each weapon appears to be per shot so fast firing weapons like the assault cannon have misleadingly low damage displayed.

There is a new playable character, the librarian Jonas. Like the force commander he is a solitary figure. I guess he takes the place of a spellcaster in traditional RPG's. I never was big on spellcasters so I did not use him much. He does have several useful abilites or "magic spells" with a fast cooldown time. I think you use him as more of a supporting character as he doesnt dish out a lot of damage nor can he take a lot of damage. His darker skin color makes him appear to be African in race, just like  inquisitor Toth in the original dawn of war. IMHO, I would have liked Jonas to have more slots for spells.

Of course there are more weapons and armors. Some are evil and will corrupt your players. Some have specific corruption requirements, i.e. your corruption level must be less or more than x to use. There are of course new types of wargear. One type is staffs and force swords for Jonas. He can alos use one handed pistols. Jonas also has librarian armor and spells or psyker powers.

Special mention for these new wargear types. There are scrolls which can increase or decrease corruption levels either for one squad or for all squads. There are scrolls which permanently increase experience or stats for one squad. There are "raw materials" which can become armor, weapons or purity seals, depending on which squad its used on.

You have ~ 15 missions including the optional ones. IMHO this is kinda short so unless you go multiplayer, you will finish this game quickly. Missions are definitely less repetitive than the original game. The final boss in the final mission can be very difficult for higher difficulty levels.

Sometimes turrets can be upgraded to missle turrets. Chaos also has access to laser turrets but I dont know if you also have access to that in the single player game. I tend to keep the turrets un-upgraded because with missle turrets, the missle will explode if it hits terrain while bolts and lasers will travel through terrain to hit trargets. I dont know if this is a bug or only cosmetic.

As the story progresses, you will learn more about your chapter. You learn that the blood ravens DO have a chapter master. I am still upset at the retcon of the chapter master. Specially if you read the novels, the blood angels were unique in that there was no chapter master. The leadership of the chapter used to be a cabal or junta of several "high level" characters chosen from among the captains and the senior librarians. And as befitting the blood raven's obsession with finding knowledge and keeping secrets, the actual names of the members of the junta are kept secret even from the blood ravens themselves. Only the junta knows the names of its members. There is supposed to be a reason why its kept secret. Something about denying that information to enemies keeps them from using it to their advantage.

For some reason I never could find or join any games online. This may be due to my ISP or maybe due to my being in the Philippines. You can play in "skirmish" mode against a computer bot. In skirmish mode unless you have the original game, you can only play as Chaos. I'm not fond of multiplayer anyway. 

I give this a 4 out of 5 stars.

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