Reviewed: March 24, 2010
Released: March 1, 2010
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone following Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II that Subsector Aurelia is in trouble again. Its newest standalone expansion, Retribution, places the sector between the wrath of an inquisitor who would scourge the sector clean of life rather than let it be sullied by the forces of Chaos and traitorous members of the Blood Ravens, the mysterious chapter of space marines that players have come to know over the length of the franchise. New to the fight are the Imperial Guard, as well as campaigns for each of the races present in the game.|
By this point in the series, players probably have a solid idea of how the game plays, and Retribution doesn’t do much to change the tried and true formula. Players guide their troops around a map, capturing control points and then defending them, utilizing their troops’ and commanders’ special abilities to hold off the enemies, and making use of terrain. The biggest change in the game’s mechanics and perhaps the biggest draw to the expansion pack comes in the form of the Imperial Guard, the nameless trillions that the Imperium sends off to fight and die as the bulk of its interplanetary military forces. Comprised of humanity’s best soldiers, they find themselves outmatched and outgunned by Chaos-worshipping heretics and alien horrors, relying on fanatical devotion to the Emperor, massed fire, and the galaxy’s biggest, nastiest tanks to hold their own.
As before, each army has a set of commanders that define the abilities that the force gets in the field, and the Imperial Guard might have the most interesting set yet. The Lord General is an officer who leads from the front, and who builds a retinue for himself as the fight goes on, each assistant offering new abilities and opportunities. The Inquisitor is a spellcaster with a focus on direct offensive abilities, and the Commissar Lord inspires his troops and terrifies the enemy with on-battlefield executions. Each of these heroes manages to stand out, and define the way the Guard plays in a given match excellently.
Alongside the addition of the Imperial Guard for multiplayer and skirmishes, however, are the new campaigns. While Dawn of War 2 has followed the Blood Ravens for the length of its plot, Retribution opens it up, with each faction having their own storyline, their own characters, and their own set of equipment drops. While the game recycles maps for each of the races, so the campaign won’t be fresh the whole way through, the missions on the maps and storylines provide enough incentive to play through a few times with your favorite races. If nothing else, as a longtime Ork fan, it’s pretty fun to head through and collect their junky equipment and go through Kaptain Bluddflag’s hat-driven scheme of revenge against the human inquisitor who drives much of the story.
If you’re still playing Dawn of War II, or if you’re a fan of the Imperial Guard, Retribution is practically a no-brainer. If you’re a fan of Warhammer 40,000 or the real-time strategy genre, now’s a great time to get started, since Retribution is a standalone game with access to everything from the first two Dawn of War II games, save for their campaigns. Either way, it’s a return for one of real time strategy’s great names, and certainly worth your time and dollar if you’ve got any interest in following more of the story of Subsector Aurelia.