Dawn of War III: Solid Campaign That Began in a Buggy Game

   It has been a while since I’ve done a game review, and this seems like a good way to kick off the year. I only review games after I’ve completed the campaign as I’m a hardcore completionist and can’t see the review as valid unless I have. Cheats don’t count, it has to be from ability and me learning how to play the game. The “Dawn of War” Franchise is also one of my favorite series. I’ve been a fan of Warhammer 40K and the universe it is based in for a few years now. My favorite factions being the Orks and Tyranids closely followed by the Tau. Xenos (the term in the game for aliens) are best.  The game was created by Relic Studios with Sega in partnership with Games Workshop.

So, how does “Dawn of War III” hold up compared to the ones who came before? It isn’t nearly as fun as the first game (and there are less starting playable factions) the game started out really buggy and used to crash everytime I tried playing the campaign when I bought it in a sale last year but the campaign has one of the best stories and enriches the characters and lore in interesting ways. What this means for my final score and overall appraisal I get into below.

The story follows the arrival of a giant Craft World (Eldar Planetship) that arrives out of the warp leading to Blood Ravens led by Gabriel Angelos, the Orks lead by Gorgutz and the Eldar lead by Macha vying for control of what is within as their competitors within their own faction (be they leader or same or similar rank) try to usurp them for the Spear that lies within.

SPOILERS ahead

The Cons:

The Bugs When I First Bought the Game – When I first bought the game I’m glad I bought it on a sale and for cheap, so to anyone buying it this what I recommend. This game will never be worth full price, especially not as it is currently. I was excited to play given I knew the characters from the first game, but the campaign kept crashing. This happened for a full week before I uninstalled and it took reinstalling months later for them to have fixed the issues. For those who are so devoted they beat the game with that bug, I have no idea how you did it. It doesn’t matter how beautiful or fun a game is if you can’t play the game.

Over-dependence on Hero Units – This is a game where you depend too much on Hero units but the build time isn’t as fast as “Warcraft III.” I pretty much had to adapt to playing the game more like “Dawn of War II” which is primarily units, heroes and upgrading them and applying that to a game that I enjoyed as an RTS. If they took more cues from “Warcraft III” this wouldn’t be a problem. In “Warcraft” your heroes help but they can lose on their own, it also takes more to bring them back to life so the cost is higher. If you aren’t giving them enough support, they will fall. I saw this in “Dawn of War III” but so much of it was waiting. If you could hold off long enough in any map you’d be unstoppable and in endgame that really shows. Heroes are fun, especially in the final mission but a company should never build a game off them. Even “Warcraft III” and “Starcraft II” knew the importance of your hero supporting an army.

Lack of Factions Compared to Earlier Games – The very first “Dawn of War” game had 4 factions. 4, reskin but different play-style of “Space Marines.” This game has none of that. You fight demons, but they are never playable. There isn’t any reason for this, given you can see units of the different factions being re-skinned to be the Demons being an option later on in the campaign. This was just lazyness. We at least got Chaos Space Marines through all of the first “Dawn of War” series and this game won’t even give the basic of the last 2 games where in each 4 were at least playable in multiplayer. This is cheap, I don’t care how beautiful the game works if you can’t even do the basic of the series that started your franchise in the first place with at least something to counter it that matters.

The Pros:

The Graphics and Cinematics – This is a beautiful game. I’m putting this as a pro because even though it is small I do enjoy how this game works. Hell, a better version of this game would be a re-vamped version of the first game. So I will give credit where it is due. The graphics in this game look like how I imagine the characters to look. It is “Starcraft” versus “Starcraft II” in appearance and I do appreciate that. It also leads to better graphics in regards to storytelling and the story is the strongest part of this game. I think they were going for what “Starcraft” and “Stracraft II” had with 3 factions but they had already set base expectation of 4. If 4 was even in multiplayer and the Daemons or another faction were included more that would have made this game go from enjoyable to good.

The Overall Gameplay – The gameplay is solid. Hero units are key to fighting (I can see them trying to be “Warcraft III” and “S In “Dawn of War III” the heroes drive the narrative and that creates a lot of fun for the missions. I liked what happened with playing as the heroes and what you unlock as they level up (it is much more slowly so when I play the game further in the future curious to see what that means). I like this got back to the RTS roots of the “Dawn of War” franchise in the end. This was why I finished the campaign. There is still strategy in how you use your units to defeat the mission and I really enjoy coming up with strategies to complete objectives in these types of games.

The Campaign – The campaign was my favorite part of the game. I’ve enjoyed this series since the first “Dawn of War” and the expansions that came after it. I’m still trying to get “Ultimate Apocalypse” mode to work but once I do I will eventually have a review for you there too as I get more enjoyment out of an RTS than the squad based combat of “Dawn of War II.” Without giving too much away the 3 faction leaders mentioned above (Macha, Angelos and Gorgutz) face off against a Daemon Lord as they (in the case of Gorgutz) or the faction leaders (Macha and Angelos against the ones who had brought them to the Craft World where the showdown takes place) lead to the feeding of the Daemon’s power and awakening it. This is Warhammer 40K so it goes all in on how crazy things get. This leads to some amazing gameplay in the later missions and a final battle between Macha, Angelos and Gorgutz against the weakened Daemon Lord. Defeating it felt amazing and as someone who has always loved the Orks, I loved seeking Gorgutz take the Speer that triggered it all when it no longer had power. The campaign made the game worth it for me as I enjoy the lore so much.

This is a game that could have been so much more. There is a reason I keep recommending it as something to buy cheap. To fix the most basic of problems they could have solved all the bugs first so someone buying it months after the fact wouldn’t have the campaign crashing every time and they could have added the Daemons as a factions. All you have to do is reskin some Orks and Eldar and add some Daemons and hero units and you are set. Beyond laziness I can’t imagine why they did that. I still love RTS games and this is the last RTS game that was “Dawn of War” since the first one. “Dawn of War II” was all about the squad which I’m still getting used to (reason you haven’t seen it reviewed yet). I appreciate building armies in an acocalyptic universe and giving my all. This one had this with the heroes and the last half of the campaign and I did enjoy it…but this is a game only for fans who are a part of this universe. It doesn’t rise above the fans of 40K and even cheapens them out. Buy this game cheap and you’ll have a good time but NEVER buy this at full or even half price. This was Sega and Relic going basic and giving the most basic of fans of wanted who have been following the series. Still enjoyed the game, but it never reached good. This game is enjoyable and nothing more. I would only recommend as a sale for fans of this universe. The campaign made the game worth after the bugs were finally fixed.

Final Score: 7 / 10. Would have been a solid 8 if it hadn’t been so buggy and they had a 4th faction like the last 2 “Dawn of War” games.

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Original “Dawn of War” Franchise Reviews

Dawn_of_War_box_art

    It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed games, the last one being gone home…as I’m still suck in the “Starcraft: Brood War” campaign reviews on the Zerg Campaign. I don’t feel comfortable reviewing the campaign or a game until I’ve finished the campaign and got to try out the other features. For “Dawn of War” this will be easy, minus the “Winter Assault” campaign of the 2nd game which I remember being rather difficult.

      I’ve read some of the “Space Wolf Omnibus” as well as some of the Codexes on the different factions, so the world has always been rather interesting to since college, as my introduction to this universe was through “Starcraft” who took inspiration from this game.

    This is a franchise that inspired “Starcraft” as the Zerg are inspired by the Tyranids, the Protoss by the Eldar and the Humans have space marines in both worlds and tend to have governments that end up being based in nobility or tyranny, and of course having no elected leaders. Where the emphasis on Starcraft was on politics though, Warhammer 40K has more so been on magic and survival as the different factions rarely if ever worked together due to them representing the worst of humanity so often (fear, zealotry, etc.). 40K is also more fun in a lot of ways as the Orks, love to fight for the sake of fighting.

   In each of these reviews I’ll go into gameplay, what faction I enjoyed the most and how I thought the story campaign was executed. These will be the deciding factors on what score each of them get, and when I get a better computer I plan to do this for the “Dawn of War 2” franchise as well.

Edge of Tomorrow (2014): A Great Approach to a Space Marines and Alien Invasion Story

Edge of Tomorrow

“Edge of Tomorrow,” directed by Doug Liman has along with “Pacific Rim,” helped re-establish my faith in original Sci. Fi. stories in regards to Hollywood. I’ll get into the why in the assessment, but first the premise which in and of itself is promising.

It is loosely based off the Japanese light novel “All you Need is Kill,” where Rita’s name comes from as well as the origin and name of the mimics and the UDF (United Defense Force). After watching the movie I look forward to reading it in full.

Edge of Tomorrow is about Cage (Tom Cruise) a corrupt army officer who is conscripted into the final battle against the mimics (the aliens who have conquered nearly all of Europe), resisting every step of the way he is on the battlefield and it is there he kills an Alpha (mimic general) and get’s it’s blood in his system which allows him the powers of the mimics to repeat each day. From here it is him being trained by and working with Rita (Emily Blunt) to stop the mimics conquest of Earth.

Here is the assessment:

The Pros: The premise – Is awesome! He’s basically living in a videogame, but the A.I. (other characters) can end his infinite lives if they give him a health pack (Blood transfusion) rather than killing him…it makes thing at stake, not to mention the trauma of having to die again and again “Groundhog Day,” style. The premise is fascinating since it’s ties to videogames are more subtle than other movies (“The Gamer,” etc.).

The technology – The United Defense Force (UDF) has a unique take on Space Marine outfits. They are mixture of modern day but also have new and old things (robotic arms that can fire attached to the back, and in the case of Rita’s character – a sword). You can tell they took tribute from Warhammer 40K and Starcraft (two of my favorite sci. fi. worlds).

The Characters – It would have been easy to make all the characters stereotypes…but the movie resists that. Tom Cruise’s Cage being a media relations slimy coward (reminiscent of Wikus from “District 9,”) is great. Cruise usually always plays likable characters so it is nice seeing him play someone who will die a bunch of times before he finally learns to be a decent human being.

Rita – Emily Blunt’s character Rita is awesome. Nicknamed “The Full Metal Bitch,” she is tough and complex…a commander worth following and someone who has been hardened by war but can see the bigger picture because of her getting the ability that Cage had at one point earlier before the film takes place.

The Squad – Cage’s squad of criminals is pretty awesome. They each have interesting quirks that set them apart from others in this genre. From the guy who doesn’t wear pants and lets it all hang out, to Ford who took his friend’s place after his friend was killed, to Nance who is a bit crazy.

The military/United Defense Force – Isn’t perfect in this, it isn’t some jingoistic tribute to them like most Michael Bay and Oliver Stone movie…it is a bunch of human being in a tough situation trying to deal with it as best they can. You see this in their fear of Rita and Cage when they find out about their abilities and to their following “The Plan” of the invasion of Normandy even after Cage and Rita have proven they see that it will fail. The good (heroism against the invasion) and bad (unquestioning loyalty above all else, distrust of new ideas or things) is shown really well in this film.

The tribute – The invasion of Normandy as a tribute to D-Day is handled well too. The human cost is shown by Cage living the failed invasion (in this universe) each day. You get to know the characters and what drives them. Their, “So what’s?” in regards to what they do.

Okay: The script – Didn’t have fantastic writing, but was okay. It wasn’t bad, it just didn’t elevate anything since it tried going for a pretty weak trope that I’ll go into in the cons.

The cinematography – The cinematography isn’t anything special. It is better than Doug Liman’s other stuff (the Bourne Series) but that isn’t saying much. It isn’t bad, but it isn’t great.

The Mimics – A lesser version of the Tyranids and Zerg. There were some interesting ideas with them but like the Muto in “Godzilla,” they weren’t fully realized. Found the Kaiju in “Pacific Rim,” more compelling. These guys weren’t bad…but the Tyranids and Zerg (where I think the inspiration came from) have a lot more complexity as a species. The Mimic’s Omega (Think Zerg OVermind – controlling brain), is just kind of their and we don’t get their motivations. Cage says their motivations don’t matter at one point, but I disagree – motivations make a peoples or individual compelling.

The Ending – It leaves you thinking if it’s all just in his head and if the Omega came back…since it never explains how he’s repeated the day with them victorious. This kind of takes away from the sacrifices and they go with the implied romance at the end again…when that was one of the weaker parts of the film.

Cons: The Romance – Rita (The Full Metal Bitch) falls in love with Cage (Tom Cruise). What the hell? We see no reasons for this, since she is a pretty asexual character, devoted fully to her cause. She saves his him multiple times, but also kills him multiple times. The friendship eventually makes sense…it is her learning to trust again, not the romance.

The sexualization Rita – A lot of times her character is shot in such ways that sexualize her for Cage. From her doing Yoga (and you hearing a really strong breathing in) to her kissing him at the end. Again, she’s the Full Metal Bitch…Cage is never comparable to that…in the end he is an average corrupt Joe who becomes more…but not someone who seems to interest her in any way at all. It was tacked on and brought the film down. If they wrote her differently it would be more believable, but not for the character we see and come to know.

I recommend this film highly. It is no “Pacific Rim,” (see how Rita was handled) or “District 9” (Tom Cruise is no Sharlto Copley) but it is a really good film. Not the best this summer (that still goes to “Captain America: Winter Soldier” – Which I saw months before starting this blog) but it is an enjoyable experience and manages to change some tropes and handle other sci. fi. tropes in such a way to create a really compelling story. One of my favorite films for sure and the best Tom Cruise Sci. Fi. film since “Minority Report.”

I give this film an 8.4 / 10.