Unfrozen Review - Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War 2 - Retribution
Retribution is a standalone expansion to the real-time strategy game Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War 2. The original game did away with base building in favor of a squad-based approach where you lead a small number of elite units through a battlefield against superior numbers. While this expansion doesn't bring base building back it does sort of compromise a bit by having you capture strongholds which can be used to summon various troops to add to your army by expending resources that are gathered throughout the battlefield.
Unlike the original Dawn of War 2, or its first expansion Chaos Rising, in Retribution you are not forced to play as Space Marines in the campaign. You can play as any of the races/factions: Space Marines, Chaos Marines, Inquisition, Orks, Eldar, or Tyrranids. The campaign is the same no matter which race you chose save for a cut-scene here and there and the banter during and in-between the missions, though it will play a bit differently since each race/faction has specific play styles and strengths and weaknesses. I played through the campaign as Orks, because Orks are awesome.
The narrative is not quite as strong or specific as it was in the original game or Chaos Rising, though this is by necessity since it is purposely written a bit vague so that it can apply no matter which race you play. The story is still enjoyable though and the banter by my squad I thought was vastly superior to the original game, mainly because Orks are downright hilarious.
I actually found Retribution to be a bit easier than the original or Chaos Rising despite the fact that I played those campaigns on Normal difficulty while I played Retribution on Hard difficulty. I'm not sure if this is because at this point I was really used to and comfortable with the way the game played, Orks being more well suited to my playing style, or the fact that Orks are just plain superior to humans.
My four Ork heroes were Kaptain Bluddflag, the super-powerful Warboss, Mr. Nailbrain, a Mekboy heavy gunner, Spookums, a commando orc that's a great support charcter, and Brikkfist, an assault Ork with a rocket pack. Generally speaking when requisitioning new forces to add to my army I would chose 1 Weirdboy, an Ork Psyker (spellcaster), 1 Daff Dread, an Ork Dreadnaught that's deadly in melee, and a whole bunch of small infantry units. I wouldn't bother too much with vehicles (except for the aforementioned Daff Dread) since I'd rather have more infantry. The reason being that the Orks' WAAAGH! ability gets stronger the more Orks you have so it's to my advantage to choose a bunch weaker Orks over one or two stronger Orks. Strength in numbers is the Ork way. With just my 4 starting heroes my WAAAGH! would still be useful since it instantly breaks suppression, but the bonuses to damage and defense it gives would be rather minor. Once I built up an army of 25 or 30 or more Orks WAAAGH! would become insanely powerful.
There are elements of roleplaying as you get to level up your heroes and can choose how you want to increase their powers. There are 15 skills to acquire divided into 3 categories and you get 1 skill point per level. The level cap is 10 so you can't max everything out. Also, there are random loot drops during battle and after each mission you are given a choice of wargear or unit upgrades you get for a reward. Again, it's impossible to fully upgrade each type of unit so choose wisely.
While there are varied environments and I found the maps to be more varied than in Chaos Rising and definitely more varied than in the original game, there are no defense missions so every mission is basically about marching around the battlefield and killing everything and everyone. There are a couple of timed missions, but otherwise every mission is basically the same except with a different map and different opposition.
Visually the game looks great, same as the original and the first expansion. You can zoom out to regular RTS view or zoom in quite a bit to see the action up close and personal. Even when zoomed in all the way all the character models look terrific. Even better, the battle animations are downright fantastic. Your units don't just do the same thing over and over again, they perform a variety of different animations for different circumstances. One of my favorite animations was watching Kaptian Bluddflag, equipped with a massive mechanical claw and a double barreled pistol, rip through weak infantry units. Sometimes he would grab one victim with his claw, shoot him with his gun while holding him, crush him, use the corpse to bash another infantry unit, then toss the corpse over his shoulder. There are tons of fantastic and thoroughly entertaining animations like that for various units.
The audio is also quite good. While the music is nothing special, it is suitably exciting and heroic sounding. Gunfire and explosions are fittingly powerful. I found the sound of Mr. Nailbrain's Beamy Deffgun to be particularly satisfying (think super powered laser). The banter of my squad during missions was thoroughly entertaining, definitely helped by the fact that I played Orks, and even the repetitive remarks when issuing commands remained enjoyable to listen too throughout.
It took me around 14 hours to complete the campaign but that's partly because I did every optional mission and I like to take my time and proceed carefully and slowly though the battlefield. If you omit the optional missions and go though each mission quickly the game could probably be completed in 7 or 8 hours, maybe even a bit less if you're a speedrun champion. The campaign can be completed solo or in co-op with a friend. I can't comment on the co-op since I played the game solo throughout.
In addition to the campaign there are multiplayer modes and a super fun The Last Stand mode where you and two other singular heroes (other players) battle wave after wave of enemies and try to survive as long as possible.
* Great visuals
* Fantastic varied animations
* Entertaining banter
* Different races/factions to play for different play styles
* Fun multiplayer
* Solo and co-op campaign play
* Thoroughly entertaining The Last Stand mode
* Not much in the way of mission variety
* Less personal story
Conclusion: Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War 2 - Retribution is tons of fun. While the campaign is repetitive it's still thoroughly entertaining and the multiplayer and The Last Stand modes are great too adding hours and hours of fun to an already great package. I enjoyed every second of this game, will continue to enjoy the other modes for months to come, and look forward to playing though the campaign again with a different race/faction in the future. I give this game my highest recommendation.
Verdict: Two big green Orkish thumbs way up.
Legendary Fan turned Digital Deluxe Edition Backer
Unabashed CDProjektRED fan
Currently Playing: Grim Dawn (alpha), Neverwinter (Open Beta)
Last edited by Keyrock; 08-11-2012 at 06:08 PM.
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