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At the end of the day, however, the single player campaign will come to an end, and it's at this point that Dawn of War II must rely on what gave its predecessor its incredible longevity; the multiplayer game. To be honest - and I've yet to put too many hours in - I'm not 100 per cent convinced. Quite sensibly, Relic has made the multiplayer portion a more traditional RTS experience, though - like the original - one more focussed on the capture and control of resource points than base building or resource management. All the same, without too many units to control or a complex tech tree and base building system to handle, the game can feel a bit lightweight from a strategy point of view, while also too manic to work effectively as - like the single-player campaign - an RPG/RTS hybrid. It's fun, but marginally too frantic for its own good, and there aren't as many maps built into the retail game as fans might have a right to expect (though doubtless more will come with future patches and expansions).
If I like Dawn of War II multiplayer, it's because it's a blast to play with the savage Orks, the psychically gifted Eldar and the creepy, fast-moving, endless respawning Tyranids, and this is the only chance you get. All are well balanced, each offers a distinct style of play and the different unit types aren't just simple variants of those from other forces. The basics of a good online game are certainly in place. Whether Dawn of War II will last long should Starcraft II emerge this year is another matter.
Still, I'm of a mind to give Dawn of War II the benefit of the doubt. Taking this direction was a brave move for Relic, and even if it hasn't entirely paid off with the boxed game, there's nothing that some tweaks and additional missions couldn't fix. Some elements of the Dawn of War fanbase are bound to disagree, while those looking for a more epic slice of sci-fi RTS should probably keep their cash in their pockets and pray for Blizzard's rival to get a 2009 release. If, however, you're happy to try an ingenious and thoroughly entertaining hybrid, then you won't find Dawn of War II anything less than captivating.
Neither the hoped-for epic step up from Dawn of War or the new benchmark for Sci-Fi RTS, Dawn of War II still succeeds as an action-packed hybrid of RTS and RPG styles. Missions could be a bit more varied, but for addictive qualities and slick production, the new Warhammer 40,000 game is hard to beat.
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