Warhammer 40,000: Dawn Of War II
Pros: Easy for novices to pick up; looks great.
Cons: Strategically shallow.
Dawn Of War II is a real-time strategy (RTS) game with elements of Diablo-style RPG thrown in for good measure, set in Games Workshop’s very popular futuristic Warhammer 40,000 Universe. It’s a mix of fantasy and sci-fi, meaning you’re facing off (or being) squads of space marines, orks and the very alien-esque Tyranid forces. For RTS purists, Dawn Of War II can’t help but feel impossibly light, with tactics something of an afterthought, base building notably absent, and an emphasis on collecting in-battle upgrades making this seem more like an MMO-style grind than anything else.
At the same time, that light-feel makes this a very accessible game for those who have found more intense RTS micro-management games a chore. The single-player campaign is, admittedly, pretty easy, but once you’ve blown through that, there’s still plenty of enjoyment to be had from the intense but fairly shallow multiplayer combat modes.
Overall I give Warhammer 40,000: Daw Of War II a 4/5.
Empire: Total War
Pros: naval battles are new; game has huge scope.
Cons: Needs a high-end PC to run.
Unlike the previous game, you can’t accuse Empire: Total War of being shallow – anything but. This fourth game in the Total War series is set in the turbulent 18th century across a major part of the globe. Empire’s one half Civilization-style management simulation and one half strategy battle, both on land and, new to the Total War series, sea. If you don’t like one or other of these games aspects and want to drop right into battle or management alone, you can automatically resolve either part and get on with the fun.
The new naval battles handle well, although they’re not quite as engaging as the land battles. Then again, Creative Assembly’s had a long time to hone its land battle engine, so that’s not really surprising. As with previous Total War games, Empire pushes the edges of PC gaming pretty hard, so if your PC is getting a bit old, you may find it runs a little slow, if at all. That aside, fans of strategy will find a huge amount of depth in Empire Total War.
Overall I give Empire: Total War a 5/5.