Review: Grey Goo

In the future humanity finds a small keyhole.  The keyhole is not large enough to travel through but large enough to send signals through.  The keyhole hits everywhere in the universe.  A probe program is launched to create a probe small enough to go through the keyhole but that can become large enough to compile millions of terabytes of data and send them back to Earth.  The probe was a self-replicating machine.  It would start off microscopic in size and consume resources of a planet to get larger and replicate allowing the probe to travel to more locations and plot more planets.

But in all the time of the probe, not a single intelligent life was found.  Various countries sent out expeditions to try and colonize various planets, but that only ended with humanity going to war with each other.  So humanity created a permanent peace among themselves and stopped the probe.

But the probe didn’t stop.  It continued on with its mission of finding everything in the world.  But now it had one major directive, Consume, Adapt, and Survive.

The probe would eventually find one alien species, but by this point it was no longer reporting back to Earth.  This group called The Beta developed a whole civilization around avoiding the probe.  They found a way to open a hole in the key and teleport to a new planet, hopefully untouched by them.  They named them “The Silent Ones” mainly because of how you could not communicate with them.

A human ship accidentally falls into one of these holes in space to find themselves where The Beta have called their home world.  As the two factions have a very bad first contact, the probe arrives, except now it has a new hankering for destruction.

The game focuses around the conflict of these three factions on the beta homeworld.

The single player campaign focuses on the misunderstandings between the three factions with 15 missions.  Each faction gets 5 missions in which they are the hero protagonist and the other factions are aggressive misunderstanding aliens.

The game plays very similarly to Starcraft 2, but then you get a sense that Command and Conquer was involved.  And it was.  The founders of Petroglyph Studios were involved in the production of the original Command and Conquer game.  What you get is a vastly unique game with very intricate factions and a well polished campaign.

The Beta are a group of aliens that are the only people who can construct buildings anywhere.  They build hubs anywhere and attach buildings to them.  Hubs increase in size and allow for new constructions.

The Alpha have one central structure of which all buildings are built on it.  Like the beta they build attachments.  Unlike the beta they have the ability to teleport their structures anywhere meaning that attachments can be re-used.

Units in both factions are created by using combinations of attachments.  Maybe you will need a Artillery Attachment and a Stealth attachment to get a Howitzer in one faction.  While in another faction you only need your artillery attachment to get your artillery unit.

Each attachment also unlocks a free tech.  The free tech come in one of each category in which you are limited to 1 tech out of 3.  Choosing wisely is important although some fair better than others.

The Goo however work completely different.  The building structure for the goo is a unit, the mother goo.  The mother goo harvests resources and grows in strength.  It can gather resources by sitting on nodes, eating up units and eating up buildings.  After gaining so much health it can split off into one of three units, small, large, and mother goo.  Small goos build light units.  Large goos build heavy units. The mother goo can also sacrifice health to invest in one research point in 5 various categories.

Each size goo also has a unique combat ability.  The mother goo snares.  The small goo heals.  The large goo applies a attack speed decrease.  This makes these structures also very aggressive in nature.

This all sounds too good to be true… and for the most part it is.

The game launched with very bad network problems.  People were disconnecting from games left and right.  The game was region locked so the population in smaller regions just didn’t exist.  As well there appeared to be a unique bug in which a visual effect that people couldn’t see was being applied to every single unit causing additional graphics lag that would carry across the multiplayer connection.

So the game lost its multiplayer community before it ever had a chance to get one.  You are essentially just buying a single player game.

The campaign is only worth about 10-12 hours of pure gameplay.

The game has some real shames.  It is a very beautiful game with a lot of love put in it.  But it didn’t have an authentic beta testing that could have addressed all of the problems they had at launch.  But unfortunately in its current state it is just not worth the price tag.  Wait for a price drop at the summer Steam sale.

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New Study Shows Strategy Games Improve Problem-Solving Skills

A new study from Queen Mary University of London found something very interesting.  Strategy video games, improve problem-solving skills.

Now take it with a grain of salt.  There were only 72 participants in this study, only 2 were male.  When questioned they stated that they had problems finding males who played less than 2 hours a week (which was necessary for this study).

It’s at least interesting that there is now a link to types of video games causing behavior.  The Sims 3 for example seems to have caused participants to get depressed.

Steam Sales Review #56: Supreme Commander

I have an admission to make.

I never played Supreme Commander when it came out.

It wasn’t through a lack of interest, but a lack of functional computer.  It’s only more recently in my life that I’ve had a “power rig” that can run any game and it’s only in recent years that they’ve made computers cheap and affordable that can run all games on any level of graphics.

Only six years ago when Supreme Commander came out graphics cards were going at around $450.  Those same graphics cards that were needed to play this game cost around $30 these days.

2006 was sort of a breaking point for computer owners who all realized it was time to get a new rig.  In that year Mass Effect 1 was released for PC and console.  It was only a couple of years earlier that Elder Scrolls 4 came out with a tenth the graphical power.

It came a time when the majority of PC owners were falling behind the majority of console owners… for a little bit.

And now here we are in a world in which PCs are very affordable and on the verge of dying off completely.

So as I load up Supreme Commander I see a caution sign:

thq

Oh God this company went bankrupt…

Is this game still on sale?

supremecommandersteamCheck, still on sale.  Regular price $14.99 purchased as a part of the THQ bundle less than $0.50.

*Phew*

Alright.

So I have option of playing Multiplayer which has no one in it, so that’s out.

Looks like it’s single player.

The game was designed with mods in mind of which there are eight.  None but one has been updated in over six years.

So I decided to play campaign unmodded.

How do we describe the campaign.

Take a chalk board.

Take your nails (make sure they’re sharp)

Now scratch the chalk board.

The campaign of Supreme Commander is like running your finger nails down a chalk board.

It is long.

It is tedious.

It is painful.

It is… challenging.

So the story of the game is kind of similar and become basically the standard for this type of game (see Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion).  You have a cruel Earth faction that decides to subjugate a person and they split off.

In this case it is the half robot half people types who are distrusted heavily.  They split off to form their own faction.  Not long after they launch an attack on Earth causing the Earth to become a United Earth Directorate type.

SupremeCommander 2013-07-04 22-26-36-07

On another world a group of aliens are found and humans settle with them.  The humans and aliens learn to co-exist and the humans learn “The Way” from the aliens.  The aliens are wiped out and the remaining humans now under the religion of “The Way” learn.

So you’re thrown into probably one of the hardest campaigns I have ever played.  It’s not hard in the sense that you really have to be on the ball.

It’s hard in the sense that it is heavily scripted and if you do not have everything prepared exactly properly for the situation, you’re screwed.

In terms of gameplay you get to be this thing:

SupremeCommander 2013-07-05 09-10-00-68This is your commander unit which is a builder.  On top of this it’s also the King on the chess board.  If it dies, you lose.  It also happens to be one of the most powerful units you own.  Yep that’s my “ride.”

From here you go through the campaign in which you are slowly introduced to the most complicated RTS I’ve ever played.

The first mission has about the same amount of detail and options as a full RTS game has.

SupremeCommander 2013-07-05 09-35-44-05

Now don’t mistaken the size and scale of this game as a compliment.  The first tier of the game features 14 units.  There are four tiers, that’s over 60 units in the game that you have to learn about.

The game also has a unit cap…. 1000 units.  Yes…. 1000 freaking units.  It’s insane I know, but very possible.

It’s all because of the economic system.  Basically you can start building as many units as you want.  Your total income in is divided amongst the various buildings and defensive structures that require that resource.  This means that you can have 10000 simultaneous building units, and that’s all fine.

I started the game off on the hardest difficulty, big mistake.

After only three missions I switched completely to the easiest difficulty.

SupremeCommander 2013-07-06 11-21-43-62

Unfortunately the difficulty scaling doesn’t quite work like most games.  The game doesn’t get any easier ala units take more damage or there are less of them.  Instead everything stays the same and objectives are made simpler.

What a kick in the nuts that this is.

I felt that I shouldn’t do a full review of this game until I could finish it, all three campaigns.

One trick to beating these campaigns is the fact that you can actually Alt+Tab and the game still runs.  This gives you enough time to quickly play a guilty browser based pleasure while you wait on your buildings to be built.  With insufficient power and mass this process can take some time.

So after ten hours I was on the fourth mission of the first campaign…. this will take some time I thought.

20 hours in I made it past one more mission.

40 hours in I was stuck.

50 hours in…. I quit.

I officially quit trying.

It’s okay to create a game that is challenging.  It’s not okay to create a game that is challenging because of poor design.

And that’s what Supreme Commander is.  It’s a game that has awkward mechanics that make the game far harder to play.

It’s most definitely not worth buying and I do not recommend it.

Thumbs down!

Hopefully Supreme Commander 2 is a little bit better.

Steam Sales Review #54: XCOM Enemy Unknown

First before starting I should note a disdain for turn based combat games such as the Men of War series and Omerta City of Gangsters.

I find these games to be silly, a waste of time, and too over complicated for anyone to ever understand what it is exactly you’re supposed to do.  Despite this these games have millions of fans around the world… something I’ll never understand.

So when XCOM Enemy Unknown was released I wasn’t all that excited.  After all this is the B-release for the XCOM series.  The actual AAA title was going to be a first person shooter which is still not out.  This was supposed to be the thing they released as a warm up.  People actually demanded for this game upset that XCOM was becoming a shooter franchise and Firaxis made this game (rather hastily).

Pew pew lasers!  Okay.... I'll stop
Pew pew lasers! Okay…. I’ll stop

So when it released and everyone was like ZOMG XCOM ENEMY UNKNOWN IZ SOOOO GOOOOD…. I just didn’t care.

I honestly did not want to believe anyone.  People always tell me that Men of War games are really good and I play them and they end up being so complicated and poorly explained that I just quit them before I can get “deep” into the gameplay.

So I waited for it to go on sale and then I bought it.

And then I didn’t play it for six months.

Really, I don’t even know why I bought it.  It’s not a game I was excited about and it just wasn’t a priority in my life.

So I’m on a cross Canada vacation with no access to the Internet and I decide HAY NOW IZ THA TIME!!!

So I do.

I plop this game in and see what happens.

So I load it up and I find a heavily scripted Men of War type game.  Wait… heavily scripted?  Dear God, someone figured it out.  One of the biggest weaknesses of this genre is that it’s just so bloody hard to figure them out.  This one actually lays it out very easily.

God I hate these kind of games!
God I hate these kind of games!

I followed through the heavily scripted opening when I completely screwed up and was losing very slowly.  Instead of reaching a defeat screen I thought I’d do the painful thing, restart.

To my surprise the tutorial was gone.  It just threw you right in there knowing full well you completed some or all tutorial information. I was honestly kind of impressed.

So as I’m playing through my second attempt at it I get to the Alien Command and lose every single one of my highly vetted units without completing the mission.  I begin to swear and realize I didn’t save….. for a long time.

So I start the game up a third time and this time I’m saving more often than not.  When I get to the ship I’m saving almost every single turn.

By this point I realize that I have spent 20 hours playing this game and I’m not likely to stop.

By God, Firaxis has done it again.  They did it with Civilization and they’ve done it with XCOM: Enemy Unknown… they’ve made a game I can’t put down.

Just like Civilization it’s not exactly the addiction factor.  Yes there is the “Just one more term” syndrome going on there, but it’s also an enjoyable game to play in which you care for the survival and growth of your people.

This odd council is always showing up unannounced
This odd council is always showing up unannounced

The first step to make you care is by having your squads have ranks and levels.  This means your perfect squad (composing at least one support, one assault, one sniper, and one heavy) it is important to maintain at least one of each type throughout the game.  When you lose all of your supports, or assaults, or snipers, or heavies it becomes absolutely brutal to finish anything.  To this extent you really care strategically about keeping them alive in every mission as death is perma death.

This can be compared to Omerta City of Gangsters in which after your gangster dies he is either arrested or goes to a hospital and gets better.

Each hero evolves throughout the campaign in a very meaningful way.  Trees are bi-laterally designed so that you choose one thing or another.  Science and research is very important in the game and you have to carefully balance progressing your forces with progressing the storyline.

To make this have a larger meta story you have to balance off relations with nations.  It is disastrous to the long term to lose a group of countries and immediately you feel the consequences.

There’s also this kind of on going battle between funding your science and getting those advanced techs and funding your engineering and being able to build them.

I was insanely surprised by just how good this game was.  It was definitely a game that beyond the post launch hype… was better than the hype.

Wargame: AirLand Battle Tutorial – Deck Building

There are two bonuses available in deck building.

The first bonus is to limit by nation.  Limiting by nation will grant you extra points and special prototype units (such as the T80U for Soviet).

The second is to limit to a type of unit such as airborne, mechanized etc.  This limits the types of units you can use and will also grant you extra deck space.

Activation points are what decide how many units you can get.  In each category as you are more points additional units will cost more points.  This is to deter all in decks and promote combined arms approaches.

This guide will be split up in two different ways, first required types of units and second customized categories.

Command Armor

In Wargame: ALB there are three different types of commands.

The first is the command jeep.  This vehicle has no armor, is insanely cheap and moves very quickly.  This selection has a few advantages, the most important is its ability to retreat and advance very quickly.

Command jeeps also cost very little.  It means by deploying a command jeep you will have more points for units.  The first command you will get on the map is whichever is your lowest so a 100 point command will give you an extra 100-150 points at the beginning of a match.

The obvious downside (and why you might not even want them) is that they are very easy to kill and can be killed by one bomb, one rocket, or a few volleys of anti-air.

The second type of command is the command armor.  Most command armors come with an anti-infantry weapon (although you usually turn it off) and have medium armor.  This allows them to take several hits.

These are also the most common command as it removes the risk of randomly losing them to artillery fire.

The final type is the command tank.  Command tanks will generally only allow for one.  These are heavily armored and very hard to kill.  On top of that they actually have a very powerful main gun that can be used defensively in engagements.

A good deck needs to have at least two commands.  it should be noted that you should take between 3-5 zones on a given map.

Supply Trucks

The FOB (Forward Operating Base) is a giant cache of supply.  It is only useful to get if you are in a match in which you will use all of that supply.

If you intend to defend air with a lot of air an FOB will become useful.

If you intend to defend tanks with a lot of anti-tank rockets, an FOB will become useful.

If you intend to have an artillery unit, an FOB will become useful.

However if you do not want any of that stuff in a large mass you will not need an FOB.

If you do get an FOB it becomes important to get supply trucks that move fast so they can quickly move resources to the front of the battlefield.

If you do not want an FOB slower trucks are acceptable, however you will want trucks that carry more resources.

As well if you are not getting an FOB you should have a second supply truck in your deck, supply trucks with armaments on them do well because they can be used as weapons in pushes once they run out of supply.

Having no FOB however having enough supply becomes important.  Make sure to look at the stats and denote supply differences.

Recon

Every single flank should have at least one recon.  Additional recons can be used for hunting down infantry.

You will need a minimum of two recon but often a good deck will have three.

The first recon should have Exceptional Optics.  Optics is the stat that states how well they see.  You will want a strong exception optics recon on your main attacking flank so spot units you can pick off to weaken the opponents defense.

The second type of recon you should get is a cheap spammable one.  Cheap spammable recons should be deployed across the map to spot various flanks while remaining hidden.

A third recon that is optionable is an anti-infantry or anti-tank recon to use to hunt down vehicles and infantry while being mostly hidden in large jungles.  These are often very expensive and are entirely dependent on value on the map.

Anti-Air

Anti-air obnoxiously represent three different categories of the game.  Overall you should have three anti-air units.  Mixing up various types will become very valuable.

You will want at least one type of rocket based vehicle.  Rockets cause splash damage to air (AoE) meaning they will deal insanely high damage to clusters of air forces.

Some rocket based vehicles carry only rockets.  These often have much higher ranges and much higher attack speeds.  They however can only be used against air.  These units should be accompanied by recon to spot the incoming aircraft, otherwise they die.

Hybrids will include an anti-air gun that will allow for autocannon damage as well as the rocket.  These have lower ranges and can be used against infantry as well as anti-air.

A second category are the anti-air helicopter.  The AA helicopter is often also an anti-tank helicopter.  This means you have a hybrid that can deal with high armor counts and high air counts.  The NATO unit the ADATS also works like this however it is ground.

The AA helicopter is also mobile which means that you can move them to vulnerable spots or use them more effectively while pushing forward.

The downside is they are very vulnerable to anti-aircraft fire and are most often a target for jets.  They can go into ground mode to mitigate anti-air weapons however.  This means the AA helicopter is very heavy on micro and requires very fast response timing.

A third category of AA are the infantry AA.  Infantry AA have a unique feature (of AA) of becoming very tanky when placed in towns.  On top of this they become very effective in forests.  As another advantage they are very cheap.  This means you can deploy a lot of these across a very large area.

On the downside the infantry AA is largely immobile meaning once placed they will rarely move anywhere, not in any reasonable amount of time anyway.  With 1 point vehicles being in the game these units are insanely cheap and easy to deploy for some extra AA.

AA infantry generally have longer load times and shorter ranges, something that makes them not the most powerful unit vs jet planes.

You will want three of these.  Which you choose will depend on your deck, if you have enough anti-tank more rocket based AA will do very well.

I should also note there are some tanks with limited anti-air capacities, do not rely on these as one of your three.

Tanks

Tanks take a lot of damage and can dish it back out.  These are the core of the army and are used in pushing.  These can also be used for wiping out infantry and vehicles.  Tanks also end up being one of the most complicated groupings in the game because of the variety.

There should be at least one heavily armored tank.  These are generally going to be more expensive than most.  As a tactic these units lead the charge and as the approach comes they pull back.  The goal is to make them soak opening blows from the enemy while your other units can get into position.

A second choice is a long range unit.  These units will do a lot of damage and will generally have less armor.  These tanks can also be used (with recon) to pick off enemy units and weaker enemy defences.

A third type of tank to get is a cheaper bulky tank.  Rocket based defenses are very good against single heavy tanks.  However the more targets they have to hit the more rockets that get wasted.  In a push you need some fluff to decrease the chances of rockets wiping out your army.

As well cheaper tanks can be deployed around a lot of flanks in order to help clean up infantry and act as defensive fluff against the target.

Infantry + Vehicle

Each infantry comes in a vehicle.  The choice of vehicle is just as important as the kind of vehicle.

If you only want the infantry and have a very specific purpose for it you can select a 1-point vehicle to simply drop off infantry.  If you want your infantry to be used for taking over towns and forests this will be a preferred option.

However anti-tank and anti-air units are often deployed away from the front and so having some vehicles up front can be helpful.

If you are lacking in anti-tank options you can spam out anti-tank vehicles to fulfill that particular miss.

There are only two infantry that are required, an anti-infantry and an all-around infantry.

The anti-infantry infantry generally has a flamethrower (napalm) and are responsible for cleaning up enemy infantry in forests and towns.  These are best paired off with all purpose infantry.

All purpose infantry can destroy tanks and vehicles very easily in close quarters.  All infantry are harder to detect and become very tanky when in towns.  Combined with anti-infantry infantry they can take any forest location or any town.

After this you can mix in more of any type of infantry depending on what you are missing.  Generally these units will be placed in towns and in forests to avoid detection and sneak up on enemies.  The downside is other than when they are in towns they are easy to mow down.

Artillery

Not covered in the video are artillery.

Artillery have a few features.  The first is a difference between four main weapons.

One main type of artillery drop a cluster of shells in an area and do great damage against infantry and vehicles but generally do not do much damage to tanks.

A second type of the rocket based.  These are very inaccurate and hit a very wide area.  However if they actually hit they can do massive damage to all units.  On the downside these cost a lot of supply.

A third are mortar type.  These are very short range artillery units but deal a lot of damage and are very cheap on supply.

A final type of napalm.  Napalm will burn a section and cause damage over time to any unit in this area.  This has many uses.  One of the big uses is controlling where the enemy has forces

A secondary feature of most artillery is smoke.  Smoke can be used when attacking to obscure vision and allow for your lesser ranged units to get into position.

Artillery is very important when playing defensively to chip away at the enemy’s army but can also be used when attacking to cause morale damage, smoke an area to obscure and to burn an area to make the enemy’s units move into the open.

Artillery however eat up more supply than others so having more than one artillery unit in your deck is not recommended.

If you have artillery however you need to have enough supply trucks and an FOB to keep this thing going.

Helicopters

Choppers are the big end game unit.  Once you can eliminate most or all of your opponent’s AA you can rally out a lot of helicopters to finish off the enemy’s army.

This means your helicopter choices should be very expensive powerful units.

However you can also get the AA/AT helo as suggested earlier.

As another option you can get cheap helicopters for some early game skirmishing.  One odd use is to force your opponent to send in some jets while you have AA staged in the area.

Overall there is a strong preferences towards very expensive potent helicopters towards the end game.  However less than 5% of games will ever reach end game.

Jet Fighters

Jet fighters come in two useful categories, bombers and interceptors.

Very potent interceptors are very good at just destroying stuff.

However just one powerful interceptor will lose to multiple.  It becomes important when winning air battles to have some bulk to your air army.  This way when engaging you are likely to trade cheap jets instead of expensive ones.

Bombers are used for destroying infantry and generally do not fair very well against other jets.  You need these to wipe out AA.  They are often very expensive and require precise micro to work well.

Bombers are risky for newer players and are entirely used as skirmishers.

Wargame: AirLand Battle Tactics – The Reinforcement Block

Wargame: AirLand Battle is a game of positioning and tactics.  One minor miss-step by an opponent can be disasterous for the army.

In this series I will be showing some basic Wargame tactics that you can use for great results.

The first of these is called The Reinforcement Block.

After spending resources on a units they must travel to said location.  The first point they emerge from is a reinforcement zone.  These reinforcement zones are different from normal zones distinguishable by a white arrow.

Units require vision in order to fire on a unit.  Other than this you can choose to “Fire Position” to blindly target an area.

Each unit that gets ambushed as they are leaving the reinforcement area will in the least get second hit.  If the unit attacking is powerful enough it can just destroy units as they are being made.

So the strategic advantage is to move some units where the units spawn from (these white arrows).

The key unit for this is the infantry unit.  Placing the infantry unit here will mean the infantry with its super high damage will do very well.

For more long term effects you should bring many infantry, some anti-air, some anti-tank and maybe even a tank.

Reinforcement points become huge contentuous fighting zones because of how easy it is to get a lot of bang out of your buck with this tactic.

Better players are going to have units staged at their reinforcement point to prevent this from happening.  This isn’t to say you shouldn’t go, but merely that you will have to bring a larger army to secure this very key location and block reinforcements.

As a player who has no learned one of the key tactics Wargame: ALB has to offer you need to dedicated some resources every game to make sure people are not also doing this to you.

Steam Sales Review #46: Warhammer 40,000 Dawn of War

It seems odd reviewing a sales game that soon just might not exist.  With THQ’s properties getting thrown around without a buyer for the series it’s unclear whether even reviewing this game post-hype launch would even be worth while.  This of course is the Game of the Year Edition.

Unfortunately unlike all other Game of the Year editions which include all DLC and expansions, this one is just the original game with multiplayer connectivity between all the various versions of the game.

I bought the entire THQ package for $25 however often THQ games go on sale at 75% meaning this would cost $2.50.  Quite a cheap eat for an RTS classic.

Synopsis: The Emperor

When you first see Warhammer 40K you at first can make some sense to this world.  It is obvious that a religious faction of humanity has dominated the entire galaxy.  It seems clear that this religious faction doesn’t entirely value life.  It’s clear there are many enemies including the Xenos, Orcs, and Chaos.  All of that stuff basically makes sense.

But then you get to The Emperor.  At first he seems harmless because you picture there is a ruler of the galaxy called The Emperor who is a leader of some sort of cosmic empire.

But then you’d be wrong.

In fact the military world of the 40K universe has a human military junta lead entirely through rank and jurisdiction.

So who is this emperor.

Well… that’s where the whole oddity comes in.

The Emperor takes a sort of God-like status in the world of Warhammer 40K.

Basically The Emperor died a hundred millennia ago.

A group of scientists and priests preserved his body and most importantly preserved his mind.

The unique feature about The Emperor was that he was a great psychic whose mind was able to touch the entire universe.  It was the great psychic mind of The Emperor that brought on the many millennia of peace across the universe.

Because The Emperor’s dead brain has been preserved it is presumed that The Emperor can still hear all of the thoughts of people across the universe. So when you are praying to the Emperor you are praying to a person who does and does not exist…. a logical contradiction.

It gives the people a certain paranoia that they must be loyal to the emperor in fear that some day he may telepathically tell on you.

Synopsis

As a game that basically created the tactical RTS genre you will find this game lacking compared to most modern tactical RTS games.

In the first there is not a tonne of unit variety available.  Note that I’ll only be really reviewing the single player game because honestly…. good luck finding someone to multiplayer with.

So your first most basic unit is the space marine.  It is also the most iconic unit in the game.  All infantry based squads come in… squads.  Instead of having one unit per as most RTS games were doing, this game offered a group of units together.  You can reinforce this squad by paying some resource in order to add members to the squad.

These squads are your all purpose squad.  They do very well against enemy infantry, enemy vehicles, and enemy snipers.  Through specialization they can be equipped with flamers for morale damage, bolters for long range damage, plasma rifles for close range damage, and rocket launchers for anti-tank damage.

Morale is a key concept in the game.  After a unit takes so much damage their morale is broken and they take increasingly high amounts of damage and deal lower damage.  This mechanic was designed to deal with stalemate battles.

However if a space marine squad equips a commander for resource they can recharge that morale.

Next on the list is the Scout.  Scouts are most commonly equipped with sniper rifles but can also be equipped with flamers and plasma pistols.  These are weak stealthy scouting units that are often ignored.

Next up are your assault squads which have jump packs which allow them to travel over ledges and make giant distances.

Vehicles have many serious advantages including being overall better than all squads, do not have morale and can equip more specialized weapons.

The most iconic of the vehicles is the Dreadnaught which is an all-purpose unit which can be tooled towards anti-tank or anti-infantry.

The Rhino and Land Raider are both transports.  The Rhino is mostly useless but can reduce ranged damage on a target area.  The Land Raider has weapons!

Whirlwind is an artillery style unit that deals very good damage against buildings.

The Predator is strictly an anti-tank tank.

In the spirit of having low amounts of creativity both the Chaos and Space Marines have roughly the same unit types!

So winning battles in the campaign often involves using the new unit as it arrives combined with space marines.

The story of the game focuses around The Blood Raven squadron who have landed on Tartarus to lend aid to the civilian population.  Upon landing an Ork invasion has hit.  The commander of the Space Marines smells something is up after cleansing the Orks starting the main anti-Chaos storyline.

One of the more incomplete parts of the game is the cover based system.  Units can be strategically positioned into craters to get bonus cover based armor.  But this falls short in the game.  Instead you spend most of your time trying to get your units all firing.

The game will net you about 20 hours of gameplay.

Strengths

  • Great Story
  • Timeless Visuals
  • Bug Free!

From the beginning cinematic to the ending cinematic you are going to want to finish this game just to see where it takes you.  In fact when you’re done you’ll want more story… like an entire expansion.. which is also available on Steam.  The game has really great pacing with its story giving you enough time to fight your way to the next level without shoving story in your face.

The graphical style of the game is timeless.  As one of the first games to include a benchmark test it was the top of the line in graphics at the time.  But as you look at games of its era today that have become insanely dated because of their N64 style polygon graphics… this one just maximized it effectively.  It didn’t hurt they were designed after actual game pieces.

Unlike most games that came out in this era, this game is bug free.  The game used to have quite a large multiplayer community and there were multiple balancing and fixing patches to make the multiplayer better and better.  Few games had this sort of post-launch support.

Weaknesses

  • Patches Ruined Campaign
  • Bad Pathing
  • Space Marine?

Upon loading up a level I found that my artillery was not firing. I kept running it into enemies and it just would not fire.  Upon looking up a fix I found that a patch had made it so that the vehicle starts off on a non-firing mode in which you have to activate a firing mode.  Each unit was supposed to feel powerful as you got it.  A lot of the time you could just completely ignore certain particularly terrible vehicles (like the rhino).

The game also suffers from some terrible pathing.  This has to do with the fact that two squads cannot occupy the same space, meaning they cannot pass through.  This means micro is impossible.  It also means that you have to move your army through a choke point taking fire from all directions just so you can get all of your units firing.  When your units take damage they cannot be moved backwards.

It felt as though certain units were less useful than others.  Even after getting the very powerful Devestator Squads a lot of times you’ll just continue milking out those space marine squads because of how powerful they are.  The only reason to get vehicles is seemingly because your space marine squads are maxed out.

Concluding Thoughts

Warhammer 40K is dated as a game.  It’s half the RTS of Company of Heroes and lacks a lot of the acceptable standards of a modern tactical RTS.  The story is fun, but that’s about it.

If you’re looking to play a game for the experience of seeing what created the modern RTS industry it might be worth playing.  But as far as getting some grand skilled experience…. you will find it lacking.

In years to come Relic learned its lesson with Warhammer 40K and when they introduced Company of Heroes they created a lot of defense based missions… something very lacking from Warhammer 40K Dawn of War.

EDIT:

March 30, 2013: After a month I decided to try out some of the various expansions that I owned.  It was neat that I didn’t really have to install anything I just had to activate the packs.  However each expansion pack offered about 10 new missions total.  Worse yet instead of having a central focus they kind of splinter off into each side getting about 5 missions making for some very uninteresting stories.  The expansions include new races The Tau and The Imperial Guardsman… however no one really plays multiplayer anymore so this is a moot point.