It must be hard to be a Guardsman. You’re standing around staring at an uncaptured control point and a box full of something called Requisition, and suddenly an Ork appears three inches from your face. His name is Spookums, he is wearing a pirate hat, and now he has exploded. You’re killed instantly – that’s one of the worst parts of the job – but Spookums is merely flung by his own explosion into a bush.
Luckily, Dawn of War 2: Retribution lets you be the Ork.
If you’d asked me before I played it, I would have told you Retribution was all about making Dawn of War 2 closer to a proper strategy game. It’s standalone, and where Dawn of War 2 was all about micromanaging just a handful of units, Retribution allows you to build up your force from the headquarters you capture midbattle. In theory, the big change is that you’re now commanding an army instead of leading a squad.
As it turns out, that’s not at all what Retribution is about. And thank God. You can build up an army, certainly, but almost every unit in it would have several manually activated abilities to deal with. Quickly and accurately ordering that number of units to use cover and activate their abilities is the kind of manual and mental torture test you could use to find out if you have a heart condition. Dawn of War’s interface, zoom level and controls just weren’t built for battles of that scale.
Yet Retribution is startlingly good – it’s the best Warhammer 40K game I’ve ever played. Because it’s not really about numbers, it’s about diversity. If you played Dawn of War 2 and its first expansion Chaos Rising, you’ve spent upwards of 30 hours controlling some combination of the same seven units. Retribution lets you choose between six different factions, with a total of around 70 squads, vehicles and heroes to play with. It’s a massive breath of fresh air.
Joy of six
There are six campaigns of around eight hours each, all playable in singleplayer or co-op. One of the six races is largely new to the game, the Imperial Guard, and they’re also playable in competitive multiplayer. Then there’s a new map and a new hero for Last Stand, the superb three-player cooperative survival mode Relic added to Dawn of War 2 in a free update. And if you’re interested in any of these ways to play it online, there’s the enormously welcome news that it now uses Steam for matchmaking and friends lists, instead of the horrific Games for Windows Live.
Frankly, the last time anyone went this nuts with an expansion was, well, Relic – with Dawn of War: Dark Crusade.
These aren’t six completely unique campaigns, admittedly. Play two and you’ll find they have about ten of their twelve missions in common, just slightly repurposed to fit a different plot. That only really hurts the early missions: the first three are overly long and overly scripted tutorials, and replaying them as each new race gets painful.
But once you do fight through them, you have enough experience points to start customising your heroes, and that’s where Retribution suddenly turns around.
Dawn of War 2 was one great fight, repeated. You set up your heavy weapons in cover, snuck your scout in to snipe a prime target, tanked them with your commander, and jumpjetted your assault guys onto the enemy’s strongest shooters. It was satisfying, but by and large it was the same every time. It was often the same map every time.
Retribution comes up with five new formulae, composed of the same basic elements of stealth, suppression, jumps, melee and damage types. Formulae that evolve as you decide how to upgrade each hero, what you equip them with, and how you want to use them.
It’s still tactical and manually intensive – you need to move each hero individually and activate the right abilities just when you need them, preferably with hotkeys. You can bench heroes in return for a free squad or vehicle and an increased army size limit in the field. But for most races, each hero plays such an important role that it’s hard to see why anyone would.
So for the most part, you slip into playing Retribution much as you did Dawn of War 2: four heroes, each with special abilities that mix with each other in excitingly brutal ways. I added a few heavy weapons squads to support my biggest gunner, and the occasional vehicle when I could afford it, then spent the rest of my money on upgrading and reviving my heroes.
I mentioned the Orks earlier: as well as the commando/commander switcheroo (where Spookums can swap positions with Bludflagg), their ranged specialist Nailbrain is ridiculous. He can teleport into battle, and one of his perks causes him to explode every time he does anything. So when he teleports, he also explodes, flooring everyone. He can then turn on his force field so that incoming damage will drain energy rather than health when everyone gets back up. This causes him to explode. Damage taken to his forcefield also charges his static blast, an ability that causes him to explode. And since it is an ability, it also causes him to explode. In addition to the explosion.
That part of the Ork’s combat formula is a result of the way I’d specced my Nailbrain. Each hero of each race has three stats: health, damage and energy. Those can be upgraded from zero to five, and almost every upgrade comes with some ability or perk that changes the way the hero works. The static explosion is a perk for upgrading Nailbrain’s damage to level 3.
I was rude about Guardsmen earlier, and I will be rude about the rest of the Imperial Guard later, but for what it’s worth they do have a formula of their own. The Lord General is a terribly British chap who can call in free reinforcements for squads who’ve lost men. The Commissar is a more sinister officer who can spur a squad to fight harder by shooting one of them – not that the Imperial Guard need any help getting themselves killed.
I like to have my Commissar use Execute on a Stormtrooper to kickstart that squad’s damage output, then cast Draw Their Fire on my General, forcing enemies to attack him instead. The behatted Inquisitor can then cast a protective shield on the General so he survives the onslaught. And after the fight, he can have a new stormtrooper dropped off to make up their numbers so we can do it all again. They’re not going to make the Fortune 100 for best places to work, but it’s satisfyingly effective.
In fact, a sadistic number of the Commissar’s upgrades revolve around his Execute ability, including a perk which lets you use it on enemy squads to demoralise them. Nice, but at that point aren’t you just shooting the enemy? Is that really something that needs to be unlocked?
Heroes of chaos
The units, heroes and abilities of the Chaos faction are split between three of their four gods. The god of destruction is represented by a heavy weapons marine, the god of magic and change has a chaos sorcerer on the team, and the god of disease gets a brilliant muckspreading Plague Marine as his representative.
Kinky porno-god Slaanesh doesn’t get a hero – he’s always been the black sheep even in a family of pitchblack bloodgargling daemon deathsheep who burn in perpetual agony with the searing fires of the warp. Instead, your commander is a Chaos Champion who can choose his allegiance: each branch of his level-up tree serves a different Chaos God. I levelled up his health, enabling him to channel disease-god Nurgle in what is presumably Relic’s idea of irony.
As well as the usual tanking abilities, this changes the way your Chaos Cultists minions work. With Nurgle, they can worship on the battlefield to heal nearby Chaos units, and even build shrines that can then summon reinforcements from the warp. If I’d leant towards Khorne, shrines would periodically spew out daemons, while Tzeentch shrines cloak your units and fire doombolts at enemies.
But the highlight of the Chaos roster is the Plague Marine. He can spread a disease that heals Chaos units and rots enemies, and even ‘detonate’ the infection to wipe out a whole squad in an instant – or bring a pestilent friend back from the brink of death. A whole set of late-tier abilities cause the enemies he kills to come back as Nurgly diseasezombies. One of the most beautiful sights in the game is this guy squirting his horrible plague spreader into a fortified bunker, corpses falling out of the windows, then getting back up again and joining in the siege as zombies.
There are so many wonky and exotic options in the new races that it’s hard to imagine someone picking the Space Marines. But that campaign is kept relatively fresh in a clever way. Rather than bringing back the increasingly corrupt band of increasingly crazy brothers we’ve been playing in the last two games, we get a new team with only one familiar face. Their commander is similar and their scout is the same, but they now have a Tech Marine hero who’s all about deployables. And their fourth member, called simply The Ancient, can be specced to play any of three heroes’ roles you fancy: heavy weapons if you level up his damage, jumpjet assault if you level up his energy, or tactical tank if you level up his health. It’s a smart way of saying “Who did you like in the last game?”
Surprisingly, the weakest campaign is for the most potentially interesting race: the Tyranids. They only get one hero, who can summon a few free units on the field without the need of a base. But the limiting factor on your army is almost never the expense, it’s your population capacity. Summoned units consume that just as much as the ones you requisition at a beacon, so that whole set of abilities is effectively moot.
Without three other heroes to level up, there are few interesting interactions between Tyranid units. You don’t have the dopamine drip of constantly unlocking exciting upgrades, and there are no tough decisions to make between missions. Loot is rare and poorly judged – almost everything I found required a minimum level I wouldn’t reach until four or five missions later. Even the units seem poorly judged: I never found any combination as effective as massing the low-level Tyranid Warriors – tough, fast, cheap, and good against everything. They render the whole campaign easy, even on Hard.
The other bum note is the Imperial Guard campaign. They have some fun abilities, as mentioned, and it’s still worth playing if you’re after a challenge. But it’s a challenge not because the missions are harder, but because the race is a walking catalogue of inadequacies. The tactics that work – such as using your fragile melee units to bait enemies into large groups of heavy weapon emplacements – are the tactics that work for every race. The Imperial Guard’s twist is that they don’t have anything else.
Still, four great campaigns is impressive – it’s three better than Chaos Rising managed. And as usual, they can all be played with two players. That’s the other time requisitioning extra units in the field feels useful: controlling only two heroes each, you have the control bandwidth to take on a few more squads and use them well.
When Dan Stapleton and I played the Chaos campaign together, I tried benching my Sorcerer and taking the Dreadnought instead. It was fun to be able to requisition some cultists to follow it around and repair it, and easy to manage. Resources are shared, so generally you’ll check with each other before buying anything. It makes the individual missions more fun, particularly on harder difficulties. The only drawback is that however many units you build in the field, each of you only has two heroes to level up, so there are fewer interesting long-term decisions to make about kit and abilities.
The adversarial multiplayer is mostly unchanged, except for the addition of the Imperial Guard to the playable race roster. They’re a fine faction for it, since their vehicles are easier to come by than in singleplayer, but the design of the mode itself is still completely unsatisfying.
It has almost nothing to do with actually killing your enemy’s forces – any squad in jeopardy can flee at ridiculous speed to their headquarters to heal. In Victory Point mode, it’s just a game of weaponised musical chairs over three control points, and an early lead almost always means victory. Once you’re ahead, you only have to hold one control point to win, while your enemy has to take that from you while holding both of the other two.
Annihilation mode is better – you have to destroy each other’s bases – but it just takes hours to get the huge economic and military advantage you need to overcome the powerful home advantage a player has at his base. Most games drag out in an interminable stalemate.
Last Stand was always more successful: three of you control one hero each and slay waves of incoming enemies until you die – and level up. The new hero, the Imperial Guard’s Lord General, starts weak but suddenly becomes fun once he unlocks the ability to deploy turrets – the best of which is vast and absurd. The new map, bringing the total to two, is absurd in the other direction: frantic, desperate and brutal from the very first wave. Both additions work primarily because the mode itself is so smartly designed and endlessly replayable.
Dawn of War 2: Retribution is such a beast of an expansion that there’s room for some of its elements to fail without adversely affecting the ones that work – those being the four great campaigns, whether you play them alone or with a friend. For those alone, this is an essential purchase for anyone who enjoyed Dawn of War 2’s tightly focused tactical scraps – even if they were sick of them by the end. It’s a complete revitalisation of that format, and more fun than Dawn of War 2 ever was. Just don’t go in expecting a game that’s slickly designed for large scale conflicts, because that’s not where Retribution shines.
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A good year brings a handful of bold, even revolutionary games to the PC. A great year, as 2011 is shaping up to be, brings so many that we spend weeks trying to whittle the list down to just 10. In the following pages we report on those 10 games, what makes them so special, and why 2011 is going to be a spectacular year for PC gamers.
Dragon Age 2
- Release Date: March 8, 2011 – Developer: BioWare – Publisher: EA
Why it’s a winner? An epic tale gets personal
I’ve put more hours into Dragon Age: Origins than anyone I know. I’ve played every origin at least twice, absorbed the majority of the story on 10-plus characters and completed it fully on three separate occasions. To say that I was skeptical of BioWare’s plans to change the gameplay in the sequel to the all-consuming RPG that won my heart (and our 2009 Game of the Year award) is an understatement. I was legitimately terrified.
But that was before I played it. Now that I’ve had my mitts on Dragon Age 2, it’s clear that the improvements BioWare is making are just that—improvements. The key mechanics that made DA:O great, like pausing combat to micro-manage your party members’ skills for a tactical advantage and the engaging storytelling, are returning intact—and almost always with noticeable improvements. Abilities in DA2 combine across classes for much better results. For example, a Rogue’s Backstab does bonus damage against an enemy that’s knocked off balance by a Warrior’s Shield Bash.
Although we can’t see quite as much of the battlefield (zooming out has been reined in slightly), what we can see looks much better—filled with fast action and gorgeous visuals. Instead of watching a Rogue clunkily waddle behind a target to deliver a Backstab, in DA2 they ninja-teleport into position, and casually drop-kick smoking clay pots around the battlefield to stun groups of enemies. The tested concepts of DA:O’s class designs (Warriors control the battle and stand firm on the front lines while Mages blast large groups of enemies and Rogues shred single targets mercilessly) are realized with these flashy and fun new abilities, like Backflip, which lets Rogues avoid spells and swinging axes with the grace of a trapeze artist.
The storytelling is also changing in both its style and sweep. Lead designer Mike Laidlaw explained the shift to me this way: “What Origins was, at it’s heart, was an introduction. It’s very big, it’s very deep…It brought together a world that was seethingly rich and let you get perspective on [the different societies of that world] very quickly, very early.” He continued, “Moving to DA2 lets us say, ’OK, all that lore you know is important—it’s crucial to what’s happening—but this is a world that can be about more than the Grey Wardens, about saving the world.’ It can be about an age of time: the events that shaped the world in this 100-year period.” This explanation echoes the reason so many of us loved Origins—the open process of discovering its world bit-by-bit—while suggesting a more intimate, personal narrative approach. I’m sure we’ll return to the Grey Wardens’ story someday, but for now, I’m looking forward to finding out all about the other key figures in Dragon Age’s dazzling fantasy world, beginning with Hawke. JA
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
- Release Date: April 2011 – Developer: Square Enix – Publisher: Square Enix
Why it’s a winner? Cyber noir!
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is like Blade Runner, in that it’s a dark, gritty science fiction mystery set in the not-too-distant future—except that it has actual blades that extend from your wrists to impale shadowy conspirators. Square Enix promises loyalty to the blend of action, stealth and deep intrigue that won our cyber-augmented hearts and minds in Ion Storm’s 2000 original, and what cinematic glimpses of DXHR’s story we’ve caught make it our most-anticipated mystery. DS
Dawn of War II: Retribution
- Release Date: March 1, 2011 – Developer: Relic Entertainment – Publisher: THQ
Why it’s a winner? Six flavors of blood
More than a simple standalone expansion, Retribution (see our full hands-on preview on page 36) is gearing up to reinvent the entire Dawn of War II experience next year. The blood-soaked battlefields of Sub-Sector Aurelia are about to become more crowded with the addition of the armor-heavy Imperial Guard, raising the total number of over-the-top armies to six (including the Space Marines, Orks, Chaos, Eldar and Tyranids), and each side gets a super-unit on the scale of the Eldar Avatar. Combined with the option to massively increase the number of troops on the field in single-player by leaving some of your heroes at home, this PC-exclusive RTS will be the biggest, bloodiest version yet. DS
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We looked to the future as part of Epictober back in, er … October, but suffice it to say, we’re still looking forward to 2011. We’ve updated these posts with the games that were announced since then, and here’s what you can start looking forward to in 2011 and beyond. Just as a friendly reminder, 2011 starts in less than a week. So start your anticipating right now.
Strategy games might seem like they’ve been slowly fading into the background as console shooters and MMOs dominate the hardcore market, but the strategy gaming market hasn’t gone anywhere. In fact, there’s a lot on the horizon to be excited about, coming hard on the heels of the successful launches of games like StarCraft 2 and Civilization V
A lot of people say that the strategy market needs to expand on the consoles to really be successful, and we’re beginning to see small steps in that direction. Last year’s Halo Wars proved that strategy games can indeed work on a console, a concept that R.U.S.E. followed up on, but the double whammy of StarCraft and Civilization proved that the PC market can still churn out strategy titles that cause waves throughout the industry.
But what’s coming in the future? What should you be planning for that’s already on the horizon?
A Game of Thrones: Genesis
Release Date: TBA 2011
Adapted from the extremely successful George R.R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” novels, A Game of Thrones: Genesis will let you take control of the kingdoms of Westeros. While very few details have been released about the game, developer Cyanide Studios has given us a tiny glimmer of what to expect.
The game will allow the player to use different types strategies, kind of like in Civilization 5. So you can win via a military, economic, or diplomatic victory. However, as in any good story, there is always treachery afoot, and in Genesis you’ll always have to be on your toes as to who’s doing what.
Defining Feature: As details on the game are still few and far between, we can’t exactly determine one overarching defining feature. That said, if the game is an engrossing as the novels on which it’s based, and the backstabbing mechanic is implemented well, then this could bring a very interesting new twist to the RTS genre.
Release Date: April 2011
With gorgeous new graphics, new physics, an updated building system, the new night-time mechanic, and of course, the ability to yet again fling cows from catapults, Stronghold 3 is looking to be exactly what fans of the castle town building RTS have been waiting for.
The best part about Stronghold has always been about being able to bring your very own castle village to life all the way down to the smallest detail. But this time around, there’s also a sense of morality. Your choices will have an effect on units depending on what you choose; place things like gardens and you’ll become a good lord, place things like gallows and your subjects will see you as an evil lord, changing how they react in battle.
Defining Feature: The most interesting new addition to Stronghold 3 is its fog of war system. Other games have used it in the past, but from a medieval strategy perspective, the idea of having to hold off an attack until dawn because there’s no light is fascinating. It will be really fun to see how all of the different types of missions incorporate this new feature, and if it will lead to any innovative gameplay.
Release Date: TBA 2011
Kingdom Under Fire II is one of the few medieval strategy games slated for PC as well as consoles in 2011. The game, featuring a single player campaign mode as well as an online MMO mode, combines elements of both the RTS and RPG genres into a single title. KUF 2 will also introduce a new faction to the series: The Encablossians.
What’s great about Kingdom Under Fire is that you get to play amongst the units you’re controlling. Not only do you get to control your favorite character, but you control hundreds of troops as well. The game will also offer a new war system where you can expand your territory via other players until you become the ruler of the continent.
Defining Feature: Not only is there a new faction for players to mess around with, but now, there is the whole added MMORPG element too. You can make guilds, advance your territory, declare war on other territories, and so much more. For a title that’s being released on the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC it’s great to see a game try to step outside the box and bring more gamers into the realm of strategy games.
Release Date: March 2011
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War has been around since 2004, and it eventually had three expansion, Winter Assault, Dark Crusade, and Soulstorm through 2008. Then 2009 brought us Dawn of War 2, which has already had two expansions of its own: Chaos Rising and the horde mode-ish The Last Stand. So what is Retribution all about? First of all, it’s a standalone, just like Chaos Rising was, meaning you won’t need Dawn of War 2 to run it.
Secondly, it trades in the Space Marines for the Orks, giving you a chance to beat in some Eldar head while you quest for loot. Or you can play as the Eldar and kick Ork butt. There’s also a third, unrevealed playable race coming to the game, most likely the Imperial Guard or the Inquisition.
Defining Feature: New playable race(s) will give us something to chew on until Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III comes out in 2012 or beyond. Of course, we’ll also have the third person action/RPG shooter Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine and the MMO Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium Online by then as well, giving us lots of Warhammer immersion options.
Release Date: TBA 2011
Microsoft surprised audiences at gamescom by announcing that the 13 year-old franchise Age of Empires was going online. The entire series has seen the release of seven main games such us The Rise of Rome, The Age of Kings, The Conquerors, The WarChiefs, and The Asian Dynasties, as well as the direct sequels Age of Empires 2 and Age of Empires 3. Then there were the spinoffs like Age of Mythology, Age of Mythology: The Titans, and the DS titles Age of Empires: The Age of Kings and Age of Empires: Mythologies. Suffice it to say, it’s a popular series.
People thought that when Ensemble Studios shut down after shipping Halo Wars, that it would be the end of Age of Empires as well. Not so. The game has a brand-new look and feel to it, bordering on the cartoonish, and will introduce tons of new units to the co-op and PvP gameplay. Like everyone else, we were afraid that Age of Empires had vanished, and now it’s going online as a digitally distributed game, which is good news. We wish Microsoft would embrace Steam, but AoEO is going to be Games for Windows: LIVE enabled, which is a step in the right direction.
Defining Feature: You have a persistent capital city that continues to expand and grow, even when you aren’t online and playing the game. It’ll even continue to gather resources and build units for you,which is definitely a nifty feature to have. Especially for things like “sleep” and “a social life.”
Release Date: March 2011
It’s been four years since we’ve had an entry in the Might and Magic series, but that will all change in 2011 when Might and Magic Heroes VI appears. It’s a prequel of sorts to Heroes of Might and Magic V, and is being developed by Black Hole Entertainment in Budapest, who had previously worked on EA’s Armies of Exigo and Warhammer: Mark of Chaos as well as its Battle March expansion. The prequel part comes in the form of this game occurring 500 years before the main campaigns in Might and Magic V. The game will still feature resource gathering, but only in the form of crystals, and the screen will shift to a grid as you move into combat to hurl magic at your opponents.
The game will be made up of roughly 50% brand new units, with the other half being a mixture of the familiar. The campaigns will be led by five different members of the Griffin dynasty, and can be played in any order. We’ve seen a necromancer named Svetlana as one of the heroes, doing battle with an army of vampires, skeletons, and specters featured in the screenshots so far. Good stuff.
Defining Feature: Might and Magic is finally coming back. Do we need more of a reason to be excited? New innovations coming to old school sorcery. We like the sound of that.
Release Date: TBA 2011
The original Shogun: Total War came out ten years ago, so it’s more than ripe enough for a sequel. Shogun 2 follows the path laid down by the original, and sets the game in 1545 with over 30 units that are based on actual historical units. There isn’t a lot of complexity to the combat as units do battle in what the developers call a “very obvious rock-paper-scissors” mechanic where one unit trumps another, and that unit trumps another, and so on. But it’s these very simple mechanics that give the game a great element of strategy. Consider chess where there aren’t that many different pieces, but there’s an infinite variety of ways to play the game. That’s what Shogun 2 is aiming for.
The game also has a siege system, where attackers lay siege to a castle (of which there are three types, and each one can be upgraded five times) and literally have to hack and slash there way through multiple passageways in order to work their way deep inside the structure. There are also naval units in the game, although of course without gunpowder. Since it hadn’t yet made its from from China to Japan yet.
Defining Feature: Departing from the normal routes of fantasy or modern warfare, Shogun 2 gives you historic Japanese combat with deep strategy. And ninjas! All wrapped in a gorgeous graphic package.
Release Date: TBA 2011
At last year’s Board Game Geek Convention in Dallas, Texas, one of the most popular games by far was Dungeon Lords from Vlaada Chvatil. In it, you try to be the best possible dungeon owner in the land by building traps and hiring monsters. In Dungeons, you … do pretty much the same thing. Not that it’s an entirely new idea, as Dungeon Keeper from EA back in 1997, and designed by Peter Molyneux himself, was basically the same thing. But who says it’s not a terrific idea?
Kalypso Media definitely agrees, so in Dungeons, you’re playing a Dungeon Lord who tries to lure heroes into his lair so he can toy with them … and then later harvest their souls for energy. It’s a family game, right? I mean, a Dungeon Lord’s gotta earn a living, just like anyone else. In fact, in Dungeons, you’re not only trying to build the best dungeon, but you’re plotting against your evil ex-girlfriend, who put you in your current predicament. Dungeons? Evil exes? We love this game already.
You have goblin minions at your disposal to do your bidding and construct your chamber of ultimate torture, but you’ll also have to slog yourself through other dungeons and face bosses so you can pull yourself to the top (bottom?) of the dungeon racket.
Defining Feature: With more than 50 different objects to use in your dungeon, you’ll find a lot of different options throughout the 20 single-player campaign missions. Building your own custom dungeon and catching good guys? Heck, yes.
Release Date: Spring 2011
Of all the strategy games on this list, it’s nearly impossible not to be the most excited about Rock of Ages, and that is due in no small part to the fact that it is entirely off the wall. In this game, you use a giant boulder to blow through 30 different unit types in an effort to destroy your enemy. But, these unit types are meant to stop your big, giant, rolling, round rock. It’s just that simple. You set up your ball and try to squash your opponent and pound his castle into splinters, while he sets up obstacles in your bath to throw your ball off course.
Yet this game goes beyond its own simple mechanics and sets itself in the middle of art history. The look and feel of the game is based on the art era that you’re currently playing in. From Renaissance to Rococo to Gothic and more, the art style of the game will morph to match wherever you happen to be. So, it’s both educational and bizarrely fun! We always enjoy that combination. ACE Team, creators of the wacky Zeno Clash, are developing this and it will be published by Atlus through “digital distribution.” Which actually means XBLA, PSN, and PC, because this game needs to be seen by a lot of people. Even if just to prove, “Yes, it really does exist.”
Defining Feature: While the boulder-rolling gameplay isn’t anything new, having the game set through evolving time periods set in art history is a stroke of brilliance. Those two-dimensional units are simply hilarious.
Release Date: TBA
Chris Taylor had been involved with games long before he founded Gas Powered Games, having worked on Total Annihilation while he was at Cavedog. He then moved on and founded Gas Powered Games, which put out Dungeon Siege and Dungeon Siege 2. Then he developed the RTS title Supreme Commander, a sort of spiritual successor to Total Annihilation, since Atari wouldn’t let go of the name rights, and it went on to to be a big success. We say big because your base is a gigantic mech suit.
Kings and Castles is a return to the fantasy realm, and they are offering up a lot of transparency as they develop the game and chart its progress with video blogs, their Twitterfeed, and their Facebook page (which needs a big shot in the arm right now). They haven’t offered many details right now, but they do promise the ability to zoom to any level, and have eye-popping visuals and incredible maps. The gameplay trailer below sheds a bit more light on the subject, offering up massive battles, airships, and destrucible environments. Oh, and dragons. Always with the dragons.
Defining Feature: Chris Taylor’s pedigree alone makes this a game worth paying attention to. While we don’t know too much about the title yet, we do love the fact that Taylor is dutifully putting up a lot of video blogs for it.
Honorable Mention: There are a lot more games coming down the strategy pipeline to be excited about. With games like Stronghold 3 which allows you to catapult cows at your opponents, to Jagged Alliance 2 Reloaded which brings back the classic Jagged Alliance, you’ll have your hands and index fingers full. There’s also a lot of strategy invading the indie games space, and at Indiecade last weekend we checked out 1066: The Game, which puts medieval combat (and taunting) in your browsers for free, and the extremely fun and addictive Castle Vox, which takes you through different eras of military conflicts. Looks like Axis & Allies, without all the actual plastic bits, and plays like Risk. Download their demo and try it out for yourself.
Go to Source (G4TV.com)
The new single player campaign for the next expansion to Dawn of War II, Retribution, will let you play as multiple races, including the Eldar. THQ have released a trailer showing the futuristic space elves slashing and blasting their way through a host of chaos. The trailer below includes twelve foot tall Wraithlords crushing chaos warriors with giant swords, and bucketloads of vomit.
If there’s one thing that this trailer can teach us, it’s that self destructing Greater Daemons of Corruption always have the last laugh. Retribution is due out early 2011 and will add new multiplayer units and a new race.
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