Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II see's you once again leading a force of Blood Ravens, this time, in defence of some of your recruiting worlds against the forces of Eldar, Orks and the terrifying Tyranids. The Single Player Campaign is a major depart from the original game, focusing on the use of a small, highly effective group of Space Marines, with the removal of base building completely. DoW II is more of an Action Roleplaying game, with a deep connection to your regular Real Time Strategy game.
Its rare to see developers take a chance with something new these days, especially on a title loved as much as Dawn of War, but for me at least, the change has been for the better. The gameplay is still intense, with a huge focus on micro managing your squads/units. During missions, and for successfully completing missions, you'll earn yourself rewards in the way of Wargear - more powerful Armour, Weapons and Equipment. You can also further customise your squads as they level up, by investing points into increasing statistics (such as Health, or Ranged Damage), which also grant powerful ingame abilities to enhance the gameplay further. This can lead to a good amount of re playability as you try out different builds and weapons.
The Campaign itself is solid and enjoyable, a bit disappointing that you are restricted to only using Space Marines...but it is rather long and rewarding, with good voice work and small cutscenes that help push the story forward (You certainly get your monies worth!). Another slight disappointment is the selection of maps...there are only a handful of maps in the game, so you often fight on the same, familiar battlefields. The game engine itself is brilliant, performing well and looking stunning. Default difficulty can be a bit too easy, so once you are used to how the game plays, I would recommend restarting a campaign on Captain Difficulty for a better experience. The entire Campaign is also playable online in Co-op mode with one other player. Although the campaign remains the same, this time each player controls two squads or units each, allowing for much more focus while micromanaging, and an even more pleasurable experience standing toe to toe against Tyranids with a friend.
The small touches, like the descriptions on each and every piece of Wargear, and the little added details on more powerful armor, further enhances the game. Fans of Warhammer 40,000 - and especially Space Marines will not be disappointed.
Multiplayer is slightly more traditional (up to 3v3), in that you start at your base HQ (which you can upgrade to gain access to better units), and you collect resources via capturable points found on the maps. You can spend these resources on newer squads/units (allowing you to have a much larger force than you control during singleplayer), and even new units (such as the Predator tank), and also on upgrading said squads/units into more powerful, specialised units. Unlike singleplayer, you can also control the Eldar, Orks and Tyranids themselves!
Tactics still play a large role, requiring you to micromanage and seek cover whenever possible, there is no further base building of sorts...so more attention can be spent on battling your opponents. Units level up as they fight, so it can often be more important to retreat squads back to your base and reinforce them, rather than let them die needlessly against a more superior foe. The two game modes on offer see you fighting for specific capture points on the map, or the total annihilation of the enemy, still on a limited number of maps however.
The game does require both the use of Steam and Games for Windows Live.
Highly recomended to fans of Action RPG's and RTS games.