Warhammer 40,000
Dawn of War (Gold Edition)

Format: PC

4 005209 069731
Age Restrictions: 16+
23 September 2005

It is the 41st millennium and mankind finds itself in a state of perpetual war. Having spread themselves across the known galaxy mankind sought to explore and to bring enlightenment, but there are forces which stand to challenge the might of the Human Empire. Orks and Eldar attack and following almost complete decimation the humans fight back under the watchful eye of their emperor. Genetically enhanced space marines are raised to protect the Imperium, billions of citizens die and worlds are made sterile. Yet still the marines' fight, with a religious fervour to protect their god emperor and the worlds he controls. It is a time of blood, it is a time of death, and it is the Dawn of War...

Warhammer has a long and noble history, starting as a table top game played with small painted models, it still remains a popular pastime for many, but for anyone new to Warhammer the best way to get into it is to buy a computer game. The reason I say this is that as much fun as the tabletop version is it is very expensive if you are starting from scratch. There are still elements in Dawn of War which hearkens back to its model roots, the most obvious is the Army Painter, where you can have hours of fun making up your own customised banners and uniforms.

Installing the game went like a dream, I have a fairly stuffed machine and was expecting the game to balk at something; however it pleasantly surprised me by installing without a single problem. Entering the CD key is a bit of a pain but then they all are these days. So it's in and you crank it up, the first thing you get is a really quite impressive testosterone poisoned intro CGI, which should get you into the mood for the chaos to follow.

Okay, so first up, you need to create a player profile, here is where you can customise your units, but we don't want to do that at the moment, that's something for a long dull evening, what we want is to kill something. Now I'm not really one for reading manuals as big as the bible. If a game is good it should be fairly intuitive. So, from the main menu, we can play 'Skirmish' a straight forward little one on one killing. Well I could play the multiplayer game but not even I'm that mad to go head to head with seasoned players at the moment. Last option is the single player campaign. Well that sounds long and involved so I headed straight for the Skirmish.

Okay, so it's a RTS games, so we're looking at resources, building and killing. The Skirmished showed that the game can be played straight away for anyone used to the genre, but after a couple of defeats I decided to make use of the training program before launching into the single player campaign proper. You play a new commander sent to secure a planet against the powers of chaos, but very soon you discover that things are not quite what they seem.

For a single player campaign the storyline is very engrossing. Yes it's another "Oh my god it's three in the morning already" game. The graphics and cut scenes are beautiful and add a great deal of depth, as does the superb music score (though I'm not sure my neighbours would agree).

This little puppy will have you playing for hours on end and that's before you launch into the online option. Game play is fast, furious and pleasingly gory. Due to the design of the game there is more than adequate possibilities for repeated game play.

Now, if that wasn't enough to wet your whistle, the good people at THQ have also included the Winter Assault expansion pack for even more fun. The main addition to the game is the inclusion of the Imperial Guard as well as new Ork and Eldar units to play with - enough to keep you up into the eye bleeding small hours of the morning. If you're into the card game you also get a free card, what more could a good Warhammer fan want?

This is a good value set. If you have never played a RTS you could do a lot worse than start here, and if you're a Warhammer fan, or just a fan of good games buy it.

Charles Packer

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