Warhammer 40k Dawn of War: Soulstorm

Written by Joe Martin

March 20, 2008 | 08:09

Tags: #40000 #40k #campaign #chaos #dawn-of-war #expansion #iron-lore #rts #soulstorm #space #strategy #warhammer

Companies: #thq

Fighting Nuns!

Soulstorm comes with all the races from the previous games and expansions, but expands on them further and adds in two new races on top of that. At this point, reeling off a full list of all the races vying for a front spot in Dawn of War.

The bad news though is that it is frankly starting to feel like there are too many races in the game, especially with the new addition. There’s a lot to be said for giving players a wide choice of races – but if there’s one thing we know for sure then it’s that there’s something to be said for decent editing too!

Regardless, players can now play as the races from the old games – The Space Marines, Tau, Necrons, Imperial Guard, Orks, Chaos Space Marines and Eldar – as well as two new additions; The Sisters of Battle and the Dark Eldar.

The Sisters of Battle are the standout race of the two, mainly because they happen to be an army of holy fighting nuns. The Dark Eldar on the other hand are just a soul-sucking and more evil variant of the standard Eldar race.

The two new races couldn’t be more different to each other in fact and, where the Eldar have powerful melee units and devastating abilities powered by the harvested souls of their enemies, the Sisters of Battle are a force for righteousness. That doesn’t mean they are the good guys though – far from it.

Warhammer 40k Dawn of War: Soulstorm Gameplay Warhammer 40k Dawn of War: Soulstorm Gameplay
Click to enlarge

Righteousness is a matter of perspective and it’s clear that the Sisters are a bigoted, oppressive and violent force in the galaxy. Just as it has proved for others throughout human history, religion for the Sisters of Battle is nought but an excuse for fanatical violence and a self-damaging belief. This belief is the strength of the Sisters though and they use a mixture of faith-powered special abilities and holy flame attacks to vanquish their foes.

There are two main problems with the new races however. The first is that they are both a little lost in the shuffle and neither feels especially new or astounding when compared to the other races. Nothing has been done to really give the new races any personality or character above the stereotypes, so there’s no real drive to play with them.

The Dark Eldar especially are the least compelling army we’ve had a chance to command since we were made commanders in the legions of Genericus McBlandalot.

Warhammer 40k Dawn of War: Soulstorm Gameplay Warhammer 40k Dawn of War: Soulstorm Gameplay
Click to enlarge

The other problem with the new races stems from some poor balancing. There’s a cap on how many total units each player can have and how many of what type and, though this cap can be extended a little with the right research, it is quite restrictive in the game. This is balanced out quite well by making units last longer and adding the possibility of dropping in new reinforcements and upgrades mid-battle. This was in the previous versions of the game and was a bit of an opinion-divider, but we came to accept it.

The problem though is that some of the new units are grossly more powerful than any opposition, especially if you learn to use the right special abilities. More than once were we able to bring down multiple Space Marine squads with a single Missionary from the Sisters of Battle’s ranks. Close the distance, cast Divine Retribution and watch as your lowliest warrior calls brimstone forth from the clouds and holds a listening post alone against multiple units. It feels unfair to say the least.

Still, when the singleplayer campaign is spanning multiple planets we’ll take every advantage we can get. With numerous territories on each planet and a total of seven adversaries to defeat one-by-one the campaign mode guarantees longevity or boring repetitiveness depending on how you look at it.
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