We're pretty sure Dawn of War II is the only RTS in existence that requires more micromanagement before you're able to play the game than while you're clickity-clicking through the thick of battle. See, in order to even view the sci-fi strategy title's start screen, you have to first negotiate your way past two login menus – one for Steam and one for Games For Windows Live. In addition to that relatively minor annoyance, most of you probably know GFWL by its true acronym: SATAN.
Fortunately, THQ's decided that it's high-time Microsoft's online games “service”/dark lord of the underworld be kicked to the curb. From here on out, it's full Steam ahead.
"The move to Steamworks will also allow us to provide features like guest passes, free multiplayer weekends, pre-loading and the ability to provide fast turn-around on future patches and updates,” said THQ in a statement.
"This new back end will allow players to invite friends into matches from their Steam friends lists and take advantage of the full set of Steam community features including groups, achievements, and Steam overlay chat channels.”
Dawn of War II: Retribution, which is scheduled to launch in March 2011, will be among THQ's first to finally tell GFWL that “no means 'no'” and declare that its one true love has always been Steam. Warhammer 40k: Space Marine, to continue the metaphor, will be singing its best rendition of 'N Sync's “Bye, Bye, Bye” to GFWL as well. Good riddance, eh? This makes us almost as happy as when we heard 'N Sync broke up.
Fans of Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War might feel burned by the barely recognizable sequel to their old favorite, but going in without expecting it to be yet another typical real-time strategy game is extremely rewarding. That’s because DoW II is actually two excellent games in one. Both have outstanding graphics and animation, a complete lack of traditional RTS base-building, and strong tactical gameplay, but the single-player/co-op campaign mode and multiplayer experiences are very different.
In single-player, you command a group of four marine squads (or two each in two-player co-op) in a campaign to defend sub-sector Aurelia from invasion by Orks, Eldar, and Tyranid forces. Without the typical emphasis on base-building, the game feels more like an action RPG. For example, squad leaders level up and never die (they can be revived after their life is depleted). The squads can also be equipped with Wargear to make them more powerful.
Nine of last month’s 20 best-selling PC games’ titles contain the word “war” in some way or another, including colonial chart-topper Empire: Total War. Special honors go to Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War II for having “war” in its title twice. Videogames encouraging violence? No way.
Here’s the entire, blood-soaked chart for your viewing pleasure:
Empire: Total War / Creative Assembly / $48
World Of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King / Blizzard / $38
The Sims 2 Double Deluxe / EA Maxis / $19
Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War II / Relic / $48
World Of Warcraft Battle Chest / Blizzard / $38
World Of Warcraft / Blizzard / $20
The Sims 2 Apartment Life Exp. Pack / EA Maxis / $19
Spore / EA Maxis / $49
World Of Warcraft: Burning Crusade Expansion Pack / Blizzard / $29
Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst / Big Fish Games / $20
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 / EA LA / $28
StarCraft Battle Chest / Blizzard / $20
Fallout 3 / Bethesda / $49
Civilization IV / Firaxis / $21 (Average)
Empire: Total War - Special Forces Edition / Creative Assembly / $70
The Sims 2 Pets Exp. Pack / EA Maxis / $19
Warhammer Online: Age Of Reckoning / EA Mythic / $29
The Sims 2 University Exp. Pack / EA Maxis / $19
Call Of Duty: World At War / Treyarch / $50
Diablo Battle Chest / Blizzard / $36
With the way mainstream headlines have been going lately, we can’t imagine that “Country X Delcares War on Country Y, Videogames to Blame” is far off.
Big-name sequels charting well in their first month of sales? No way. Also clown-in-your-cake surprising is Fallout 3’s staying power (the game first launched in October!), for which we use the only portion of Left 4 Dead that didn’t also claw its way into the top 20 to give a hearty thumb-up.
Check out the full list:
World Of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King / Blizzard / $38 (Average)
The Sims 2 Double Deluxe / EA Maxis / $19 (Average)
Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War II / Relic / $49 (Average)
World Of Warcraft: Battle Chest / Blizzard / $37 (Average)
Not only that – it’s also over-taken World of Warcraft on the PC sales charts! (Anyone? Anyone?) In fact, according to NPD, Dawn of War II has quietly commandeered a place atop most every PC sales chart in existence: US, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Australia – you name it.
Naturally, publisher THQ – who’s definitely feeling the heat emanating from the economic laser slowly inching toward its region (wink, wink) – is pleased as punch, whatever that actually means.
“We have built ‘Dawn of War’ into a premier PC gaming franchise based on the Warhammer 40,000 universe,” said Brian Farrell, THQ president and CEO.
“We are pleased with consumers’ strong response to Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II across many of our key markets and believe the game’s success clearly demonstrates our primary objective of delivering high quality games with strong global appeal.”
We, for, er, a few, welcome our new RTS overlords. How about you?
Well, kinda. GameStop has reopened its palace doors to Dawn of War II and – by virtue of its inclusion with the game -- would-be assassin Steam, but THQ’s Saints Row II and 2K’s NBA 2K9 remain conspicuously absent.
Upon its removal from GameStop’s pre-order list, Dawn of War II was thought to be the opening volley in a scuff between storefronts – retail vs. online, to be specific. GameStop employees, however, insisted that the retail giant merely exhausted its pre-order supply for a short period of time.
Certainly, GameStop’s passive refusal to slow its waterfalls of boiling oil for Saints Row II and NBA 2K9 seems a little odd, but re-stocking Dawn of War II – PC gaming’s first heavy-hitter of 2009 – pretty much puts the kibosh on any sort of cold war between GameStop and Steam.
Here’s the scoop: Battlefield Heroes, EA’s free-to-play, browser-based FPS, is just about ready for the big show, but needs your help in the make-up room. And get this! So does Relic’s massively anticipated RTS Dawn of War II. Who will you rescue? Now allow us to blow your mind: you can have both.
For Battlefield, you need only follow this link to the dank den of EA’s sleeping monster. Once there, simply create an EA account, fill out a sign-up form and wait. Doing these steps out of order is inadvisable.
Dawn of War II’s beta will officially brighten up PC gamers’ days on January 28th, but if you’d like early access (read: you could be playing it RIGHT NOW), you’ll need a copy of Dawn of War: Soulstorm. Luckily, Soulstorm just so happens to have been marked down to $7.50 on Steam. However, note that this sweet deal (75% off!) is temporary and will expire on January 28th.
Now go! Don’t worry about us; we only want your happiness!
After Relic-owner THQ purchased the Homeworld license from Vivendi, speculation about the next entry in the spacefaring RTS series naturally ran rampant. Now, however, even though the hypothetical game's presumed developers are finally using the words "home" and "world" without at least three sentences of dividing text, Relic's magic eight ball still says "Please ask again later."
"We're really happy the IP has made its way home, and yeah, we're definitely looking at it. We'll see what happens in the future," current Dawn of War II lead designer Jonny Ebbert told Eurogamer.
But beyond that, Relic's stalwart team of stoics only swatted away further questions.
"As it always has - behind closed doors. Blacked off. Homeworld 3, obviously, I'm not at liberty to tell you anything about. So, good try!" replied Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor designer Chris Degnan after a quick "How's Homeworld 3 looking?" -- likely even more enraged than he was after the fifth time Eurogamer tried that little trick.
General manager Tarrnie Williams also noted that Relic has "three or four" titles sizzling on the grill. Or at least, we think he did.
"It depends how you count; whether you use the old math or the new math," he said. He refused to explain the difference.
So, Homeworld 3 might fit in with Dawn of War II, Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor, and Company of Heroes Online (an Asian market-focused title), but Williams just insulted our math and we're pissed we can't really know.
Numerical nonsense aside, what's your take? Are you chomping at the bit for another Homeworld? What improvements would you like to see to the Homeworld formula?