Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II – Chaos Rising

Developer: Relic Entertainment
Publisher: THQ

The expansion pack to Dawn of War 2 picks up where the previous game left off, the Blood Ravens saved Aurelia sector from the invading Tyranids but now find themselves sieged by the Chaos Space Marines' Black Legion.

If you finished the original Dawn of War 2 you can import your saved game, allowing you to start off with better gear and at a slightly higher level, it's a nice feature but it's not mandatory as your old gear quickly becomes outdated due to power creep.

At first not a lot has changed in the campaign's gameplay as you're only given a few new locales as well as a new unit to control, the Psyker Jonah whose role is similar to that of a spellcaster. As the story progresses you learn of missions and combat gear that can either corrupt or purify your squads. Depending on how these are played out, the plot will branch somewhat and can even result in one of your officers betraying you.

Unfortunately this corruption/purity mechanic is severely underplayed, even while playing on the hardest difficulty I never felt pressured to follow either side. Considering how one of the characters keeps warning you how the forces are chaos can easily corrupt any man I was expecting missions with catch-22 type objectives, difficult moral choices or really, anything that would 'force' the player to become corrupted, but those never occurred. 

Even worse is the fact this campaign is painfully short, the original Dawn of War 2 took me two to three time longer to finish and while the different endings and slight branching paths bring some replay value, I'd sooner recommend you just watch these on YouTube.

I also didn't really like how most of your missions are relegated to you fighting Chaos Space Marines, the Orks, Eldar and Tyranids barely make an appearance and when they do it often comes with a really flimsy excuse plot-wise. Despite all this, the developers did try to mix it up a bit, one of the new areas has you doing missions in a Space Hulk! Sure it played just like every mission, but as a fan of the old Space Hulk videogame (I never played the boardgame) I loved walking around in terminator armor gunning down genestealers.

Multiplayer-wise very little has changed other than the addition of the Chaos faction and a new unit or two for every army, though none of it matters considering Games For Windows Live will shut down next year, ending any possible multiplayer interaction with it.

Overall, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II – Chaos Rising is a nice enough expansion, it had great ideas and its heart is in the right place, but the campaign is too short, the corruption mechanic is underdeveloped and while I appreciate the different endings, they're not really enough to warrant a second playthrough. Still it is a nice addition to original game, if you enjoyed Dawn of War 2 chances are you'll enjoy this one, if you didn't care for it or were on the fence, I doubt there's anything here that will sway you.

- Same tactical gameplay, albeit somewhat improved
- Slight branching paths and different endings encourage replay value
- Corruption/Purity mechanic can be interesting at times...

- ...but it's underdeveloped
- Short campaign
- Orks, Eldar and Tyranids are mostly forgotten in the campaign

Final Grade: B-

Packaging review to come soon

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