|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Relic||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: THQ||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 4, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-MultiOnline||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Cole Smith
You don't have to fix it if it ain't broke, and although the Warhammer 40,000 franchise may be past its prime, there's nothing wrong with trying to improve on a classic. While it may not bring back the fickle fans that have been-there-done-that, this latest expansion pack breathes new life into the series, essentially giving it reason to live and reason for you to play it again.
Originating as a tabletop strategy game in 1987, the Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War franchise first appeared as a computer game some four years ago. With a fantasy/science fiction theme, it's a real time strategy game that features several races, each with their respective armies and individual units, fighting it out for ultimate supremacy. The Dawn of War series of expansion packs has previously brought the total of playable races to seven. Dawn of War - Soulstorm increases that number to nine with the addition of two new races, the Dark Eldar and the Sisters of Battle. Aside from the obvious new additions, at first glance there doesn't seem like a lot was brought to the party. But like a traditional blues song, the beauty is in the details.
Dawn of War - Soulstorm is still running off the old Warhammer 40,000 engine. That's to be expected. But upon closer examination, developers Relic appear to be doing more than just suckling the teat of this apparent cash cow. The new races offer more strategic options when put into the fracas with the veteran races. The attributes for each of the new races seem subtle in terms of overall balance, but they have abilities that we've all wished for while playing as other races. In the effort to be fair and balanced, which this game prides itself upon, for every powerful attribute, there is an exploitable weakness.
As with all Dawn of War games, the focus is for domination of a particular map. Whether you are playing the single-player campaign or the online multiplayer mode, it's essential that you not only defend your position, but attempt to secure new points on the map. The micromanagement has been streamlined, although some races require more attention to it than others. Whatever the case, it's essential to secure resources in order to progress, and if you don't go out and conquer new territories, you will eventually run out of resources simply defending yourself. The game forces you into action. If you don't go looking for the enemy, it won't be long until they come looking for you.
With Soulstorm, each race will receive a new flying unit. They are similar to other special airborne units that were introduced earlier, but these units can fly higher, faster, and longer. They can cover vast territory quickly, which can give them the upper hand with a surprise attack on an unsuspecting enemy. They can be easily shot down and are not easy to control, so I would not rely too heavily on them as solid, individual units. They need to be incorporated with other units.