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Unfortunately, it's also undeniably repetitive. While the odd mission messes with the formula, asking you to defend a resource or hold the city gates, most focus on trolling around the map, capturing the odd control point that will provide you with reinforcements or support options in this or future rounds, beating up the local Ork or Eldar population then homing in on their boss. What strategic variety there is stems from the new units arrayed against you and the new units you gain access to as you work your way through the game, rather than intelligent mission design or the introduction of different types of objective. Frankly, if you want a real test of battlefield tactics then you're better off waiting for the next Total War.
Despite this I have yet to find my interest waning. Partly it's the game's sneaky harnessing of the traditional RPG obsessions of levelling and upgrading, and partly it comes down to the game's superb production values and grasp of the dark Warhammer 40K universe. It's safe to say that Dawn of War II delivers a new visual benchmark for RTS games, using an enhanced version of the Company of Heroes engine to deliver sumptuous locations, destructible structures and a range of dazzling weapon, explosion and atmospheric effects. Close up some character models are a little crude, but seen from a vantage point high above the battlefield it all looks incredible.
The Warhammer 40K atmosphere, meanwhile, is spot on. There's nothing too unpredictable about the story, detailing the struggles of the Blood Raven chapter against Ork, Eldar and Tyranids (think swarming Zerg-like aliens), but the tone, artistic style and language used is always on the mark. As before, it's a delight to see familiar forces like the Eldar dreadnoughts take the field, and there's no shortage of blood, guts and grit to be found. This has always been a compelling universe, but only a handful of games have done it justice. Dawn of War II is one you can add to the list.
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