Warhammer 40.000: Dawn of War II – Retribution (PC)

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Retribution is the third game in the Dawn of War 2 saga. It is the second standalone expansion and, as per all Relic Entertainments previous efforts, this one reeks of quality. Unlike most expansions these days, Retribution is a standalone product, so when you fork out R300 for an expansion you actually get much more than just an expansion pack – you get a great game all on its own.

In the case of Retribution, you can actually classify it as a standalone game, and not an expansion, as it includes the Dawn of War 2’s multiplayer. Dawn of War 2 has garnered quite the following online, and some will argue that “strategy” is much more vital in this multiplayer than it is in games more renowned, like say, oh, Starcraft 2. However, this review is not here to cause controversy.

Warhammer 40.000: Dawn of War II - Retribution Screenshot 1

Dawn of War 2: Retribution is still the same basic game as the original, and a lot of the game mechanics can be traced back to Relic’s older game, Company of Heroes. It’s a primarily action focused strategy game, where laying down suppressing fire is as important as directing your soldiers to aim in the right direction. You still make extensive use of cover to protect your armies from being turned into Swiss cheese, and that cover is still destructible.

You also do not build bases, but capture buildings that can be used to provide you with units. But don’t simply expect to build a huge army of thousands and send them off to overrun the enemy. Resources are tight, population caps are even tighter. Which units to deploy where become all the more important when you know you probably won’t be able to replace them.

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The story in Retribution is a little weak compared to other Relic games, but this does not mean much since Relic has always had great stories in their games. I was more engaged in the original Dawn of War than this sequel’s expansion, however. You can play any one of six races, each with their own campaign. These campaigns have a lot of missions overlapping, so don’t expect too much difference between them.

The new race introduced for the first time is the Imperial Guard, and they are now also available in the multiplayer. Quite unique for a strategy game, the campaigns can also be played in co-op mode, allowing you and a friend to go through any of the six campaigns hand in hand, kind of like taking long walks on the beach. Except on these walks Orks jump out from behind the boulders and blow themselves up.

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The game features smaller armies than other strategy games, but to make up for that your heroes are almost played like you would in an RPG. They level up and learn new spells or skills, and choosing the right ones makes a difference in whether your next mission is a success or not.

The game, even though it runs on technology almost six years old from Company of Heroes, still manages to feel fresh due to the great level design and enormous amount of fidelity in each character. Voice acting and sound effects are top notch, never feeling overly done or underused.

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Overall it is hard to fault Retribution on much. It is a solid strategy game with a massive amount of content considering it is an expansion. However, the fact that you do not need the original game, nor actually needed to have played the original for this game to make much sense, makes this the perfect time for beginners to jump right into the world of Warhammer 40 000. Veterans might feel a little disappointed with the less than stellar story, but the amount of gameplay will soon still their concerns. Retribution deserves a home in every strategy gamer’s collection.

The Good: Massive amount of content for an expansion; for beginners and vets alike.
The Bad: Story is a little weak; the 5 year old tech looks a little old.
The ugly: How can you not like an Ork named Spookums?

Warhammer 40.000: Dawn of War II - Retribution Screenshot 5