The novelization of Dawn of War 2 was one of the first Warhammer books I'd gotten, and as such the game has a somewhat special place in my heart so far as Warhammer games go. And given my (not subtly expressed) grave concerns for Dawn of War 3, let's all take a blast to the past and talk about its predecessor. The first thing to know about Dawn of War is that it's a Warhammer 40k game. Now I've only covered one other Warhammer game on this site, and that one was fan made so let's take a look at the official real deal.
I can remember that Dawn of War 2 was the first game I'd played that fused Role Playing with Real Time Strategy, and this is one of the biggest point's in its favor and arguably one of the best choices made for the game. The squads you control grow, evolve and follow you throughout the course of the campaign and you end up developing an attachment to them as an intricate narrative is weaved around them, forcing you to actually care about these pitiful few Space Marines as they're thrown against seemingly impossible goals.
Let's talk a little bit about the plot for a moment. Now we're talking about the original vanilla, not Dawn of War Retribution or Dawn of War Chaos Rising, just to clarify that important little bit. The story centers around The Force Commander (you) leading your forces against the Ork invasion of Calderis, an imperial planet that is vital to the recruitment efforts of the Blood Ravens, your chapter of genetically-altered super soldiers who dedicate their lives to fighting off the myriad threats to mankinds domain. Orks are, well, Orks. Giant green monsters that spread like fungus across the rotting corpse that is our milky way galaxy, they exist only to wage war and have brought man to the bring of ruin time and time again.
As you progress along the first few missions you begin to encounter Eldar forces. Enigmatic, ancient, and powerful aliens, the Eldar have been both friend and foe to humanity over the years and their involvement usually hints at some grander threat waiting just around the corner, one that threatens more than just one world in Mans empire.
Every mission is different, requiring a different set of goals and as such you might want to consider a different line up of squads. You'll be given the chance to talk to your sergeants and get their tactical input before the mission and swap your gear around. Let's say that you need some heavy hitting for one mission that has a particularly nasty boss fight and the current Devastator squad (your dedicated heavy weapons team) isn't cutting it. Slap on some Terminator armor on them that you picked up last level and boom, next problem. It lives up to the genre that it is in, Dawn of War 2 is a Real Time Strategy game.
Gameplay is fast. Dawn of War 2 is not the slow and ponderous game that Dark Crusade was, you'll be fighting a dozen skirmishes with 3-10 individual units at any given time, probing and poking for weakness. Positioning is everything, cover is everything. Gameplay feels like your actions have genuine consequences and every decision matters. There is no 'whoops I just lost a squad, oh well I'll just go off and make more.' in Dawn of War 2.
You could be taking cover in a building and then, bam! A tank collapses the building with your unit still in side. This destructible terrain is a huge contributing factor to the almost seesaw nature of warfare in Dawn of War 2. You may be able to hold a good position for awhile, but it's only a matter of time until the grind of war takes its toll and you have to re-deploy. This forces you to stay on your toes, to keep an eye on everything and quickly think. Gameplay is fantastic in this regard, I mean it really captures the grim darkness of the far future vibe that we're always told about. Terrain is destructible, bodies don't despawn and the dead lay where they fall.
Experience points are gained in the traditional manner. Kill your enemies and capture command posts. Units are capped at 20 and you can't max every skill bar, leaving some abilities locked. In all honesty, it's similar to the system you would see in a game like Mass Effect 2. And you know what that means? That means you'll be playing the game multiple times before you can say you have seen everything. In all honesty, this is the kind of game that you will be playing more than once anyway.
Drift into Eternity is the kind of game where you wake up on thinking everything's fine and you had a good nights sleep, only to slowly realize that your house is on fire. It's a little indie game from We are Bots that has almost hit every mark despite the occasional flaw and yet still remains in relative obscurity. I am glad to be able to shed some much-needed light on the subject and I'd gladly pay 20 bucks for this game and I look forward to watching what happens next in the months to come, although I don't expect much deviation from the presented formula....
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I think it's nice to take a break from the games that focus on war and conquest, that have you acting out pain and suffering on a global or galactic scale. Every now and then you just want something a little different. A little, shall we say, tranquil? Relaxing? Peaceful. Unfortunately, I can only think of a handful of games that fit the bill for what I'm looking to experience, it's very much a niche market at the moment, and At $6.99 on Steam the game is pretty reasonably priced considering what is being offered.
This is where Lantern comes in. Released on November 15th, published by a company called 1C and developed by another company named Storm in a Teacup it's an incredibly simple concept with equally simple gameplay mechanics. Bring color back to the world(s) as the wind guiding this little red lantern overhead while warmth and joy follow close behind.
This is not a challenging game. This is not a game that requires a great amount of thought or effort. But then, that's not the point of the game, and the people going in expecting some great and grand struggle to rid the world of some kind of 'darkness' will be disappointed. Lantern is a short 4-5 hour adventure that departs from the traditional routes in gaming to offer up something not often seen.
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I don't know if you've noticed it from my repeated coverings of what's happening with Endless Space 2, but this is a game I'm very excited about. I've been a fan of the games produced by Amplitude Studios for awhile now, and while I was somewhat worried about their partnership with Sega (given what's happened to a lot of the other games they get their hands on) I breathed a sigh of relief however, when I powered up the game and started to play around with it. Despite being in early access, Endless Space 2 could turn out to be Amplitude Studios at its finest.
They're a young developer, Amplitude Studios is. They started out as a little project comprised of former Ubisoft employees back in 2011 out in Paris. The following year they released their first game, Endless Space. Unfortunately I wasn't aware of Amplitude Studios at the time so I missed the launch but boy am I glad I was around for the sequel. They've come a long way in a short period of time, recently being acquired by Sega Europe, which is something I've had my reservations about but I think that Amplitude has created a real winner with this one.
Endless Space 2 is available on Steam for $29.99, but please keep in mind it is still in early access, so there's only four factions available and some features are missing. We can expect it sometime early 2017, after its gone though a few more months of letting the fans toy around with it as it currently is because if there is one thing the developers are known for its letting the fans have plenty of time to see how the game is turning out and then letting them put their own two cents in.
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Have you ever been so creatively bankrupt that you took a 2005 content expansion for your 2004 game, turned it into a stand-alone game in 2015, and then charged people some 50 bucks for it?
Creative Assembly has.
Released in 2004 February of 2015, Total War: Attila is the 9th installment of the Total War franchise and this time it centers around the decline of one-half of Rome and the rise of another. But also it's about the beginning of one of the world's most violent and generally forgotten eras, one where everyone is rushing to fill the vacuum left by Rome. The harbinger of these fun times is a fellow named Attila, I don't know if you know of him or not but I guess he was a big shot back in the day. Unlike its predecessor, Total War: Rome 2, which was primarily focused on Rome's rise this one is about the ugly and painful fall, and the gameplay attempts to highlight this with a few inventive mechanics.
Now Attila is a Total War game, so we can safely state now that it's been out for little over a year that it doesn't deviate too far from the standard method of operation for a Total War game. However, there are some dramatic changes that should be enough to keep even the most disillusioned fan engaged for at least a few hours.
Recently I've come to view Total War games as stale pretzels. I'll eat them because my low self-esteem dictates just about everything else I do in my life, but I won't particularly enjoy it and I'll quickly move on to better, tastier things that are fresh and contain more flavor. Total War: Attila is a slightly less stale pretzel.....
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