Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III ReviewPrice:
Dawn of War 3 doesn’t reimagine the real-time strategy wheel, but it doesn’t need to. In fact, Dawn of War 3’s most controversial aspect is how uncontroversial it is, eschewing a lot of the advances and new ideas presented by developers Relic in Dawn of War 2 in favour of a return to the classic base-building and explosions formula that’ll feel instantly familiar to everyone that played the original.
It’s not just the gameplay that feels like a relic. The first thing that jumped out to me on loading the game for the first time was the shoddy UI, which makes it difficult to ascertain how many units you have and what you have to play with in terms of resources. This is a problem that alleviates with time. However, in the early stages, when I was desperately trying to call in reinforcements or work out why I couldn’t build a giant tank to fight off the Ork menace, it was frequently infuriating.
Not that anything was too desperate during the campaign. The single-player campaign is a 17-level tutorial that seems designed to teach you all there is to know about the Orks, Space Marines, and Space Elves Eldar. The game assumes players have a lot of knowledge about what the three races are capable of, so playing the campaign could be a useful tutorial for those new to either the series or the lore, but nearly every level drags, and I found the story of returning Space Marine Gabriel Angelos and a planetary war between three races to oscillate between pedestrian and outright boring.
The battles are decent, with explosions booming and small arms echoing across the battlefield while heavy man-portable weapons (and everything is man-portable when you’re a Space Marine or an Ork and the size of a car) sizzle across the landscape. Dawn of War 3 really does look like you would expect a pitched battle between hulking mortal enemies to look like, and the attention to detail is genuinely impressive. Dawn of War 3 is one of Relic’s biggest franchises, and the care and focus lavished on it is obvious when the battles get rolling.
The biggest departure from the game’s return to the old ways is Elites. Elites play like the heroes from Dawn of War 2 but with a series of abilities that can be activated to scatter enemies across the battlefield. They’re truly a force to behold, with a single mid-level Elite easily capable of cleaving through the battlefield, tossing enemy combatants all over the place. It’s a great visual representation of your most powerful units bringing the hurt, and it’s more interesting than watching a pair of enemies weakly punching each other. This effect is increased tenfold when you get the most expensive Elites, who are often as tall as a several storey building, with enough firepower to turn the rest of your enemies into an icky red paste.