Dawn Of War : SoulStorm – Game Review

Dawn Of War : SoulStorm
goldfries rated it
Dawn Of War : SoulStorm
 

Believe it or not, it’s my first time playing the Dawn Of War series. 🙂 Let’s see if this latest and last of their DoW series would impress me.

The Story

A Warp Storm surrounds the Kaurava system, isolating it from all forms of contact. The nine races drawn to investigate arrive in the system with their own fleets and conflicting intentions. However, the Warp Storm wreaks havoc with their navigational systems and strands them on the four planets and three moons of the system. The nine factions are then forced to battle between planets to ultimately conquer the planetary system and discover the reason for the warp storm.

If the Kaurava System is conquered by Chaos, the player learns the reason of the Warp Storm: an ignorant Imperial Guardsman with latent psyker genes was whispered to by the Chaos Gods, to prepare a ritual. He unknowingly summons the Alpha Legion to Kaurava System.

As with predecessor Dark Crusade, Soulstorm features a “meta-campaign” featuring 31 territories spread over four planets and three moons.

One difference however, is that unlike Dark Crusade, there are no persistent bases. Once you conquer a province, the base structures you have built up will not be present in future conflicts. This can be remedied by reinforcing provinces you own with buildings and units in between battles, or by establishing a forward base using the Sisters of Battle army ability.

Source (Yes, I couldn’t have said it better)

Gameplay

The gameplay in Dawn Of War : SoulStorm (DoW:SS) is simple, capture as many strategic points as you can and hold on to them. The one that holds the majority of the points win, of course that doesn’t mean you win it immediately. There will be a timer counting down before declaring the winner. Either that or you could just wipe the opponent off the map.

Yes, it’s pretty similar to Company of Heroes (CoH). Just that it doesn’t quite look like the way CoH was, like the team that got points reduced to 0 first being the loser.

Dawn Of War : SoulStorm
Dawn Of War : SoulStorm
Dawn Of War : SoulStorm

You also have various other points to capture, such as critical points and relics. All these points serve a purpose, however I’m not going to elaborate since the game will provide a very good tutorial when you play it so any write-up on it is just not necessary. Speaking of the tutorial, it’s a nice tutorial that uses VOICE instead of TEXT but the guy speaks really fast. Why a guy!??! Use a girl voice next time. We’re playing Sisters of Battle, aren’t we?

Nope, while the Sisters of Battle are the highlight of the game (as seen on the box), the game actually adds 2 new races into the war – Sisters of Battle and Dark Eldar. You get to use any of the 9 races for the campaign mode and the wealth of units, technology upgrades and diversity among all the races is just amazing.

What I like most about the Campaign mode is that it’s not one of those sequential mission type of games. You finish mission 1, you get mission 2. and so on so forth. The campaign mode plays some what like TURN-BASED strategy game in the sense that you (and the AI) take turn decide on whether to conquer next. Yes, you get to choose which territory you wish to conquer so it’s pretty much like what we had in the good’ol days with Dune II: The Building of a Dynasty and Emperor: Battle for Dune where you get to conquer or defend from being conquered.

Dawn Of War : SoulStorm
Dawn Of War : SoulStorm
Dawn Of War : SoulStorm

To add value to the campaign, each territory you conquer could give you some reward, for example Wargears that add to your commander’s ability. 🙂 Nice, it’s something like doing shopping, just that you have to fight for it.

One thing I didn’t quite like is that practically every map feels like there is a symmetry, all areas being equal and you just have to do your part in taking most part of it. Yes, the campaign maps are also the skirmish maps. So you pretty much get to practise much at skirmish before going into the heat of combat.

Graphics & Sound

My first impression on the graphic was that it’s really simple. Looked like low-texture polygons even at the introduction, in the game the sprites look alright. The game was running smooth even at the highest setting, unlike CoH or many other RTS where the game would give you lesser framerates as the graphic details go up.

Due to some hardware hiccups, I opted for a Sapphire HD3450 graphic card (review on this card is coming) and I thought DoW:SS would be a lag-fest but I was surprised it wasn’t. Games like Supreme Commander felt laggy even with details less than medium and at less than 1024×768 resolution but here the DoW:SS at maximum details with 1680×1050 was smooth most of the time, with all the eye-candy available. 🙂 NICE! I wish all games are like this.

Dawn Of War : SoulStorm
Dawn Of War : SoulStorm
Dawn Of War : SoulStorm

Alright, other than the framerates, I love how detailed the units for each race are – not just visually in fact, the voices of each unit are very well done. Some even sounded creepy, religious fanatic, demented souls or whatever you think of – they voices let you FEEL them.

Another thing I liked was the ability to customize colors for teams. Yes, you get to do it the way you want. Bored with the white-colored holy-looking Sisters of Battle? Make them into black-leathery like whip-wielding babes if you want. 🙂 Or dress them in solid red with black colored trimmings.

The game is detailed, so detailed that there’s blood splatter all over the place. It’s probably the game with most blood I’ve ever seen. You get to see leftover body parts that came from someone you fought with earlier as well. Even race like Dark Eldar gives a really sadistic to it, pretty much like they were from hell or something. The game is rated M for Blood and Gore Violence. Sorry, no options to turn it off either.

By the way, some areas that you choose to attack actually do have cut-scenes. They’re done based on the game’s 3D engine, quite well done I’d say.

Dawn Of War : SoulStorm
Dawn Of War : SoulStorm
Dawn Of War : SoulStorm

Online / Network Gaming

Multi-player is just like the skirmish (Against AI) games, just that instead of a bunch of AI – you’re getting human players. On the downside? You only get to control to play only the 2 new races that came with DoW:SS. You need the rest of the series to play the other races.

I do face problem creating an online profile for this game though. The game does manage to contact the server, it could even verify username and password if you attempt to log in. It’s just that the profile creation process is still at it even after 5 minutes. I’ll update this portion of the review once I iron out this matter.

Conclusion

The game is fast and fun and not even graphically demanding by today’s standards without looking horrible! That’s great! BUT I felt the lack of OOOMPH when it comes to the campaign. The campaign game feels no better than skirmish mode, just that you have other things that go along with it, like representing a particular race against the other race in domination over the system.

No interesting twists or objectives, like say you have to disable enemy nuke in 10 minutes or whatever else that you saw on other RTS. Sure, when you attack a territory, it did list some objectives but it’s just another skirmish map……. or at least it looks like it. 🙂

On the PLUS side, the number of race made available does make up to a certain extent on the lack of variation in mission.

Ratings

Dawn Of War : SoulStorm

PC Specifications Used

The computer setup used for this review.

Processor Intel E2140 Overclocked @ 3.2ghz
Graphic Card ASUS EAH3870X2 512MB / Sapphire HD3450
RAM 2x 1GB Kingston DDR2 667 @ DDR2 800
Motherboard ASUS P5K-E
Cooler Xigmatek HDT-S963
Monitor 20″ Dell Ultra-sharp Wide-screen LCD
Operating System Windows XP (SP2)
Driver Version Catalyst 8.4
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8 Comments

  1. For some reason, I prefer this kind of graphic more than CoH.
    Hmmm…this looks good! Coz I’m a big fan of dark crusade. In fact, I’ve been playing dark crusade for months and loving it

  2. Author

    CoH is rather dark in many of the scenarios. Details are great but then it’s draining the framerates too.

    The thing nice about DoW is that it’s fast and furious action with many units and whatever you can throw at.

    I’m so happy that the HD3450 could play it. 🙂




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