Denny Markovic
18 Apr, 2010

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II - Chaos Rising Review

PC Review | Does Chaos Rise for good reasons?
The Warhammer 40,000 series of games has been going strong for a good few years now. The original Dawn of War spawned a pretty large fanbase and community upon release, and many adored its utterly chaotic and over-the-top combat, which was also quite ridiculously cool. A couple of expansions later though, and the Dawn of War gameplay quickly started to wane, with little change happening in the actual play. While a tonne of new content was piled on, it gave players a lot to pick from but with little difference. So what we had in the end was an overweight Dawn of War that just couldn’t keep up with us.

And then arrived Dawn of War II, which not only changed the traditional RTS style gameplay, but made it a hell of a lot more fun and surprisingly, even more chaotic. Base building all but disappeared and now it was all about kicking people in the nuts as hard as you possibly can with powerful units and clever tactics. The story, style and overall feel of the game was great, and following this success is the first official (stand alone) expansion, Chaos Rising, which quite clearly alludes to bringing Chaos into the mix; which it does so splendidly.

Chaos Rising’s campaign structure works in pretty much the exact same way that the original did; you control a Force Commander, a few different squads, and deploy them on planets to punch things in the face and blow them up (though occasionally you have to defend something, which means punching attackers in the face), then accumulate experience, loot and intel, and move on. It works, and works well, primarily because the story keeps you constantly engaged with some nice twists and turns thrown into the mix, and with such squad mate dialogue straight out of a Power Metal band in the most dire of situations, what’s not to enjoy? Then there’s also the loot and many variations of squads to deploy with as well, which adds a nice level of depth to the game that never feels like too much. It’s balanced, progressive and a whole lot of fun. We admit that the final boss was a whole load of arse though, as it felt somewhat tacked on and left us pretty bitter after so much greatness; but the rest is definitely great entertainment and certainly replayable.

The PALGN Moderator's average day on the forums of battle.

The PALGN Moderator's average day on the forums of battle.
The expansion has also added another layer of depth to the campaign in the form of a chaos meter. While the introduction of Chaos Space Marines is quite blatantly evident considering the giant horned space marine glancing about in the main menu, the meter is a more subtle introduction which can change much of the game in the campaign. You gain chaos for every ‘bad’ thing you do in a mission, or for gear that you wear that is imbued with the Power of Chaos. This kind of stuff increases your Chaos level, which in turn unlocks new passive traits, and allows you to wear high level chaos armour that can be used to make your forces far more powerful. However, the catch is that you also tend to lose other traits as you are less pure, and you also lose the ability to wear certain armour types and use certain weapons, so there’s definitely something to think about when going into High Octane Chaos mode or Holy Thunder Paladin of Justice mode. It’s not particularly game breaking kind of material, but it’s a nice addition that does actually make you a bit peeved sometimes, because the Holy Sword of Justice you just found can’t be used because you’re too much of a bad boy.

Once you’re done vanquishing Chaos and punching things in Single Player, you can move onto the Multiplayer mode for more nut-kicking goodness, which is still as solid as the original, if not better with the addition of the playable Chaos race. The Eldar, Orks, Space Marines and Tyranids were already fairly different from each other, and now we have Chaos who also feel quite unique in their approach. Chaos units are powerful and very destructive, however not large in number whatsoever much like Space Marines. Their high end units such as Plague Marines are very cool and turn many a foe into a gooey mess, so Chaos is definitely a force to be reckoned with, and a new race to learn and approach differently. New maps and new units for each race have also been added into the fray, so like any good expansion, there’s a lot of new content there that will keep fans glued to their seats till the wee hours of the morning.

The local administrator once more whipping us poor writers into working.

The local administrator once more whipping us poor writers into working.
On the technical notes, we’re pretty much looking at exactly the same looking game that we did when Dawn of War 2 first came out, and this is perfectly fine as the engine still holds up well. Effects and particles will fly across your screen once the battles begin, and units animate and move about the field beautifully, giving off that always great feeling of satisfaction when they pull a cool kill animation off or blow someone up. It all runs buttery smooth on any decent setup as well, and also gives way to multi-monitor support splendidly, with good performance to boot. We did experience some slow down at a whopping 5040x1050 resolution (Ed: Yeah yeah, we get that you have a monster setup, get over it!), however the frame rates were more than playable, and you wouldn’t require monstrously high frame rates for RTS games anyway.

Chaos Rising is a great first expansion to Dawn of War II, and for its asking price, it’s of great value. Fans of the original will eat Chaos Rising up happily, recognising that delicious taste but with extra flavours, while newcomers will also get a nice kick out of it and experience the deliciousness of the game for themselves, particularly because the game is stand alone. It’s a well made, polished and very addictive expansion that will likely keep you stuck to your computer for many hours at a time, and probably keep you at bay until the ever-so-late StarCraft II finally arrives. Hurry it up Blizzard, your competition’s doing well.
The Score
Chaos Rising is a lovingly crafted and highly entertaining stand alone expansion with a whole lot of content and a boatload of Chaos.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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1 Comment
4 years ago
You forgot to mention my favourite part of the game - The Last Stand! Two new characters have been added:

Chaos Sorceror - a glass cannon, heavy hitter but can't take many blows
Tyranid Hive Tyrant - a summoner who can take some serious damage
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Australian Release Date:
  11/3/2010 (Confirmed)
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