Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War Updated Impressions

With the game nearing completion, THQ shows off a highly polished Dawn of War at its editors' day.

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Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War
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Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War is a game that has surprised us by how quickly it has seemingly come together. Revealed and announced at E3, this real-time strategy game is now just weeks from shipping. THQ showed off the latest version of Dawn of War at its editors' day this evening, and we saw how the game has advanced quite a bit, even from the recent multiplayer beta test.

War in the year 40,000 sure ain't pretty. But Dawn of War sure is. Click "Stream for Free" for higher resolution. Surprisingly. representatives from Relic weren't available at the editors' event--they're all up in Vancouver, BC, working to finish the game. That should give you an idea of just how close to completion Dawn of War is. Relic did send down the latest build for the event, though, and we saw that the graphics in particular have tightened up considerably. The multiplayer beta test, for example, was full of weird graphical glitches and some rough artwork, but that's all gone now, and the game looks beautiful and plays smoothly at this point. All four of the game's playable races are in, and each has its own unique look and building style.

The combat in the game is still fast paced. Dawn of War is a real-time strategy game that could almost double for an action game, because combat starts up quickly and doesn't let up much as armies clash on the field. Relic has also ensured that the combat itself look visceral, and there's certainly a sense of mayhem as you see ground troops hack away at each other with futuristic swords and melee weapons.

The user interface, which Relic avoided showing for quite some time, has finally been locked down, and all the graphical elements for the UI were recently completed. Relic is currently still touching up the game, and it is putting a good deal of focus on the balance of the gameplay. The single-player campaign will take place over 11 missions, but the game's multiplayer should get the most attention. With the ability to use the army painter to "paint" your units (much like Warhammer 40,000 fans paint their miniature figurines), it shouldn't take long before players throw their customized armies into online battle. Dawn of War will support up to eight players online or over a network, and there are a variety of games, including what are called annihilation and assassination.

One neat new feature that we learned of is the replay function, which will let you replay a battle and relive the glory of victory, or perhaps rub it in your opponent's face. With the replay function, you can watch the battle take place from the perspective of your opponent or from any point on the map. And you can still pause the game and zoom in on the action, so you can catch the moment a space marine plunges his sword into an ork's chest, for example. Warcraft III veterans know the importance of studying replays of battles.

Dawn of War is entering the final stages of development, and from all indications, Relic is on the verge of finishing the game in the coming weeks. We'll definitely keep you up to date with developments, but expect Dawn of War to ship in September or October.

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