Published on March 24th, 2011 | by Richard Motokovsky0
Dawn of War II: Retribution
Summary: Retribution is such a beast of an expansion that there’s room for some of its elements to fail without adversely affecting the ones that work
As Relic Studios were showing off their next standalone expansion for Dawn of War II, we couldn’t help but feel excited. It wasn’t because this is the second expansion to what was already a great game, or the fact that everything but the kitchen sink is seemingly being thrown into Retribution, with its six different race-oriented campaigns, balanced multiplayer or the ability to now build units on the battlefield. All that is the icing on an already delicious cake, because for the first time, Warhammer 40k fans get to control the universe’s most human class, the unfortunate faction which consistently finds themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place – we’re referring of course to the Imperial Guard.
Electing for the everyman option when you’ve got Space Marine, Ork, Eldar and Chaos factions to choose from may seem like a wasteful option, but thankfully every faction is selectable in Retribution, both in multiplayer and single-player, and each with their own skewed 16-mission campaign to work their way through.
Set in the traumatic sub sector of Aurelia, the plot is set 10 years after the resolution of Chaos Rising and involves each race rushing to escape a coming armageddon delivered by an Inquisition fleet that has declared Exterminatus against an unfortunate part of the galaxy. Every being will be annihilated by massive atomic orbital bombardments which can turn a once green planet into a mass so unstable that it eventually explodes leaving only dust in its wake.
Players are placed right in the middle of it all and are asked to guide their chosen faction to either challenge or avoid the impervious threat. There is a witch-hunter inquisitor to work with those who wish to avoid the destruction, but in time-honoured fashion there will be branching options for players to explore with special loot and gear to earn on the way, as well as different plot options to determine the end of your race’s mini-story.
This doomsday backdrop is beautifully communicated with dramatic FMVs and heavily scripted missions which dial up the drama nicely. We sampled two different missions which featured the Imperial Guard fleeing from a giant Space Marine Land Raider, and another where one of the planets in the Aurelia system had succumbed to volleys of orbital cannons and was only minutes away from annihilation.
The addition which will really get strategy heads excited is the ability to build units. This was an option which was removed in Dawn of War II, but thankfully Retribution won’t be lacking in that much sought after area, with resources that can be spent on unit production via specific points on the map or channeled into upgrades for heroes and standard units. In addition, each faction will now have Super Heavy units which require massive amounts of resources to produce and have the power to almost single-handedly turn the tide of battle. Watching an Ork Battlewagon bulldoze over enemy forces or seeing a Super Marine Land Raider Redeemer toast large sways of forces instantaneously provided immediate gratification, even if your guys were the ones being rolled over. We’re happy to report that the missions still had that devilish mix of humor, destruction and delight, especially when coming across trashtalking Orks.
Content-wise, Retribution should please existing fans of Dawn of War and new players alike, as newbies are given an approachable experience, thanks to the lower difficulty levels. Multiplayer has also been given a spruce up, with new units for each faction, with a new lava-puddled map and additional Last Stand options.
For all the new inclusions, the biggest revelation we took away from seeing the game was how every type of gamer is catered for. Each race should provide enough variation to encourage plenty of experimentation in both the campaign and multiplayer modes, which should result in greater value for players. We admire Relic’s kitchen sink approach to this add-on, and if it is the last hurrah for Dawn of War II, it’s shaping up to be a good one.