Dawn of War 2: Retribution is a stand-alone expansion to Dawn of War 2, and like the previous games, is set in Games Workshop’s fictional scifi universe, Warhammer 40k. Retribution heralds in some pretty big (in my opinion) changes over it’s predecessors in Dawn of War 2 and Dawn of War 2 Chaos Rising. The game is powered by the Essence Engine, which is also developed by Relic Entertainment, originally for the Company of Heroes series.
Dawn of War 2: Retribution, is set 10 years after the events of Chaos Rising, when the Blood Ravens under Gabriel Angelos’ command slew the demon Ulkair. One could be forgiven for thinking that the sub-sector Aurelia’s problems were over after that final battle but in reality, the problems were only just beginning. More and more chaos incursions continued to plague the sub-sector, secretly master minded by Blood Raven’s Chapter Master, Azariah Kyras. The Imperial Guard were sent to reinforce the region but even their efforts were in vain. Many themselves turning to the forces of Chaos over the years.
To make matters worse, the Ork known as Kaptain Bluddflagg and his Ork pirates the Freebooterz are pillaging the sub-sector. Eldar of the Craftworld led by Autarch Kayleth are present seeking a prophecy. The remants of the Hive fleet Leviathan that plagued the sub-sector prior to events of Chaos Rising are rebuilding in an attempt to contact the Hive Mind and consume the worlds once and for all. Blood Ravens loyal only to their corrupt Chapter Master Azariah Kyras are making their presence known and finally, Eliphas the Inheritor has returned, to make good on his promise to Abaddon the Despoiler to finally annihilate the Blood Ravens.
There is only one response now that the Holy Inquisition can take to deal with the Sub-sector. Exterminatus. The complete and utter destruction of every world in the sub-sector, taking every life, loyalist, Xenos or other in the process. To this end, the fleet of Holy Inquisition under the leadership of Inquisitor Adrastia and supported by Lord General Castor and the 8th Cadian Regiment have arrived to perform the Exterminatus.
This is where the player comes in. Unlike the previous incarnations of Dawn of War 2, there are multiple single player campaigns, one for each of the races. Each campaign has a set goal to perform before the Exterminatus can be completed by the Inquisition. The Tyranids, led by a Hive Lord are seeking to reconnect with the Hive Mind and consume the sub-sector. The chaos campaign centers around Eliphas the Inheritor trying to destroy the Blood Ravens once and for all. Captain Diomedes is front and center for the Space Marine campaign, as he tries to halt the Exterminatus and (begrudgingly at the start) expose and defeat his corrupted Chapter Master, Azariah Kyras.
[one_half last=”no”][gameinfo title=”Game Info” game_name=”Dawn of War 2: Retribution” developers=”Relic Entertainment” publishers=”THQ” platforms=”PC” genres=”Real time strategy” release_date=”March 1st, 2011″][/one_half]
The orks, under the command of Kaptain Bluddflagg are motived by the prospect of fighting and strangely enough, the hat of Inquisitor Adrastia. The Imperial Guard campaign sees you in control of Lord General Castor and the Inquisitor herself, in an attempt to bring about an end to the conflict that does not result in complete exterminatus. Autarch Kayleth’s primary directive was to prevent the destruction of an ancient craftworld but things change. Ultimately, the campaigns do share a basic enough story and each and everyone starts on the same location and will finish on the same location as the others.
The campaign mixes elements of RTS and RPG as Dawn of War has done in the past. That is to say, while it is largely an RTS in the sense the word, the RPG elements come into play with your hero characters. Leveling them up and acquiring, then equipping them with war gear. This is not a bad thing though, it feels vaguely familiar having done one or two campaigns of the Warhammer 40k tabletop game in my time. As I mentioned, the campaigns tend to follow the same basic story and as such, you’ll be visiting many of the same stages (particularly in the advancement of the main plot) with few changes (the faction you fight may differ but this is not always the case).
As has been the case in the past, optional side missions will become available as you progress that while not necessary to the overall plot, does add opportunities for more war gear and unit upgrades, as well as interesting plot additions. Upon completing a mission now, you are given a choice of one of three upgrades you want to acquire in addition to anything else you obtained during the mission, a small feature albeit one I like. As with most stories, there a few plot holes, here and there but nothing too offending. For me, one of the best things about the campaigns however, is the dialog. Relic Entertainment having been working with the Warhammer 40k theme for some time now and it shows. The Orks are particularly amusing and the experience overall feels authentic.
Unfortunately, Dawn of War 2: Retribution doesn’t add any new multiplayer game types to the mix, but it still offers several improvements over Chaos Rising. Perhaps the most notable addition is the inclusion of the Imperial Guard faction in skirmish modes. Basic Imperial Guardsman infantry squads, while fragile, are extremely useful units because they can fix allied vehicles, as well as create their own heavy cover and construct automated turrets. Each of the Guard’s hero units can deploy bunkers that, in addition to sheltering troops, may be upgraded to heal nearby vehicles or infantry.
Additionally, the bunkers may be booby-trapped, just in case the enemy captures them. While these bonuses make the Imperial Guard excellent at locking down an area, they have also been blessed with awesome tanks like the Baneblade, which is a behemoth adorned with at least a half-dozen turrets. Thus, the Imperial Guard faction is incredibly useful in team games; it’s capable of both holding strategic points in the early game and contributing awesome firepower once it’s time to crush the enemy under gigantic tank tracks.
Additional improvements, and perhaps my most favourite, is the scuttling of the Games for Windows Live service (which annoyed me to no end in Chaos Rising being a console player as well) in favour of Steam alone. Furthermore, all six factions and 30-plus skirmish maps are playable regardless of whether you own Dawn of War 2 or Chaos Rising, an enticing point for those who skipped over the previous two games. Last stand mode comes with a new and more difficult map, as well as the inclusion of an Imperial Guard hero (The Lord General). You are able to port over your character progress from Chaos Rising. Last Stand is probably my favourite multi-player mode so far, however I do wish that Relic would have included more variations in hero choice between the factions. Personally if I had the choice, the Imperial Guard hero would of been the Inquisitor and not the Lord General.
Cooperative campaigns have also been improved by allowing both players to build new units during levels and rewarding you with special war gear for helping a friend through the campaign.
Retribution remains as visually stunning as its predecessors. The environments are still largely destructible, and watching your tanks demolish an enemy’s cover never gets old. Individual units have excellent animations, and the sight of a Space Marine turning an Ork’s head into a fine red paste with a giant warhammer is truly beautiful. The maps sometimes get a little repetitive because they have a tendency to be littered with the ruins of destroyed tanks, craters, and burned-out buildings. Maps set on the pristine jungle planet Typhon really stand out in comparison, with its waterfalls, rivers, and lush canopies showing the potential beauty to be found in Retribution. Unfortunately, it did require me to have a play on my friend’s gaming PC to get the best experience as my PC can only run it on the lowest settings and even then, it has a little trouble every now and again.
In recent times, I think there have been generally some poor expansions that haven’t represented much in the way of value for money. Each campaign offers anywhere between 5 and 10 hours worth of game play (dependent on whether you do the optional missions) plus the multi-player aspects. Every faction is available to you both in single and multi-player, the attention to detail is great, the voice acting and scripts are wonderful (except maybe the Space Marines that were.. typically a little on the bland side, I suppose) among other things overshadow it’s few failings. The Orks (and I’ve never been a big fan of the greenskins) are a particular highlight. This isn’t just a stand-alone expansion, it’s a great entry point into the series for new players and the best iteration yet. See over page two for the minimum and recommended system requirements.
Dawn of War 2: Retribution Rating; 8.9/10