Once again, bringing you timely reviews of the hits of 2009! … wait, really, 2009? I must have gotten this in a bundle. I apparently have the “Grand Master Collection,” which I know I didn’t pay $80 for. I only went as far as the single player campaign; if online ranked play is still ongoing, I don’t really need those achievements.
It’s fun as a small squad RTS. You do not have the usual RTS economic aspect. You just have four hero units, most of whom come with grunts that you can refill at beacons. It does not seem incredibly deep. It felt like the same thing across missions, without a big, visible difference between enemy factions. Maybe the differences are more apparent if you play as them.
I played on normal (“Sergeant”) difficulty. It was rather easy. The ability to pull back and refill your units, costing only time, makes it very difficult to fail. And there are no time limits. I followed a recommendation to clear the map, rather than race to completion, because that gives you optional objectives and advancement is based on xp (kills) and loot (which can be cashed in for xp). That was presumably part of the ease, staying ahead of the leveling curve. The game has another snowball mechanic: do well to get more missions per day, with a side objective that increases your score there. Always do your first mission on Calderis, with that maximum side objective bonus, and you get enough missions to never worry about catching the defense missions before they expire.
The humans vs. eldar vs. tyranids story feels a lot like Starcraft, even after throwing in “vs. orcs, too.” I am well aware of which IP came first, but it is hard not to see it. Can you imagine how much happier it would be to be Games Workshop if Warcraft had been a Warhammer game, and then Starcraft had been 40k?
The pack I got also had “Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II – Chaos Rising” and “Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II – Retribution,” with bonus name length and punctuation. It looks like the game got up to six races by the end, any of which can run the campaign. Keen!
But my overall feeling after the original space marine campaign was that the game was worth a few missions but not a whole campaign. The basic play was familiar and basic, and the fights did not have much variety to them. Again, they probably did with closer examination, but “attack move to shoot and smash things” covered most of the game, with some strategic redeployment and use of abilities. I ran the first few missions with the stealth hero in my squad, working on careful deployment and use of abilities. Then I realized that I could just smash through the enemy without much thought.
If you like small squad RTSes, this has a lot of enemies to smash. This is your good grind.