by Ryan Phillip Hardesty
previewed on PC
New Choices, New Views (cntd)
Diversifying the scenery a bit will be two new environments, the first being the ice planet Aurelia, a frigid and dry world that will literally smash and tear around you, an effect that will play heavily in the solo campaign. Giant spikes of ice will emerge out of the ground and cracks will become canyons as the sinister powers of Chaos take hold of the planet. It will be a setting players will have to navigate carefully, one that adds an extra layer of tactics and snap-decisions (as if those Tyranids looking to devour your intestines weren’t enough).
The other environment forging its way into the game is that of the Space Hulk, a humongous and brooding ghost ship that reappears in space along with Aurelia. Similar to the space station maps seen in Starcraft, you’ll traverse the ship’s darkened metallic planks further along in the storyline.
Out with the Old, In with the Sin
One of the largest problems inherent in Dawn of War II was the repetition of the solo missions, ultimately melting down to move-squad-here, defeat-group-of-enemies, beat-boss-at-end, hooray! All that blandness is set to change, though, as the developers have promised that each and every mission will be unique, utilizing an expansive storyline, dynamic surroundings and a new morality system designed to test your troop’s sense of all that is right with the world.
Set somewhere around 15 missions, the solo campaign will introduce a method of decision-making in the form of the Corruption system. The Chaos Space Marines, once noble Space Marines themselves, fell under the sway of the Chaos Gods and now the temptations that led to their downfall will be laid directly at your feet in the campaign. As you progress in the story, certain events will occur that will force you to decide whether to uphold your noble status as a hulking warrior for humanity or veer a bit towards selfishness and ruthlessness and, therefore, the way of the Chaos Gods. Should you travel down the path of Corruption you’ll unlock certain gear and abilities that will sacrifice safety for destruction. Perhaps most intriguing about this new morality system is the way it will impact the story. Relic has said little about how deep the moral aspect will change things but there are several different endings for your Space Marines based on how righteous or wicked a path you choose.
Bolstering the uniqueness of the solo campaign is the addition of larger, slower battles, something sorely lacking in the original Dawn of War II where each match typically took around fifteen minutes to complete. The sequel traded in base-building and strategy for micro-management and tactics, a method that catered to the new breed of real-time strategy players that seek the quick thrill. Perhaps in an effort to quench the thirsts of old-school RTS gamers, the missions have expanded in terms of scope, thereby satisfying the armchair generals of old while maintaining the fast-paced tenacity of the sequel.
Multiplayer will receive a number of changes though those are being downplayed at the moment in favor of what the single-player campaign will get. What multiplayer aficionados can look forward to, however, is the addition of a Chaos and Tyranid hero to the recently released Last Stand mode as well as several new maps to blast apart your friends on.
Fan of Pure Evil
Arriving in the United States on March 11th and in Europe on March 12th, Chaos Rising is set to finally fill that gap that only the traitorous and deceitful Chaos Space Marines could fill. So if you happen to be an anarchist who plays RTSs or if you are just a fan of pure evil, rejoice – your faction has arrived.