Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War is based on the Games Workshop universe in which factions of Space Marines, Orks and others do battle in the 41st millennium. But even if you're not an anorak-wearing member of the Warhammer fraternity, there's plenty to enjoy here.
Dawn of War, at its most basic, is a well realised real-time strategy game that boasts both excellent graphics and game play. Four factions are represented - the Space Marines, the Chaos Space Marines, the Orks and the Eldar. Each has different units and technology trees making for plenty of variety on the battlefield.
Dawn of War isn't a game that plays out on a grand scale - you control comparatively few units during a battle, but there is a wealth of tactical possibility to be found both in the unit variety and the way a battle plays out. Each map comes with strategic points that you must capture to increase the rate at which you receive requisition points, which is the primary resource you need to build units. Then there are critical locations, which increase requisition points at a higher rate, and relic locations, which apart from also increasing requisition rate are necessary to build certain units. This setup ensures games are offensive, as you cannot just sit back and build a base.
Dawn of War features a relatively brief single-player campaign of around 10 missions, in which you play as the Blood Ravens, a Space Marine outfit defending a planet from Ork attack. While it's fun, an additional campaign featuring one of the other factions would have been welcome. But then maybe the developers recognised that multiplayer is what Dawn of War was really going to be about. There's a robust skirmish against the AI mode for you to practice in, and LAN and Internet play.
Scorecard VISUAL: Exceptionally detailed characters, gritty environment recreation AUDIO: Stirring battle anthems and sound effects GAMEPLKAY: Good gameplay mechanics and tactical options. Single-player campaign short DEVELOPER: Relic Entertainment PUBLISHER: Climax Studios URL: www.dawnofwargame.com