Summer Boredom

Summer is around the corner and I’m already feeling a dwindling interest in MMORPGs. I’ve been feeling it for a while now but I do find the odd glimmer of amusement by still playing here and there. Admittedly, it’s more fun playing with someone else… so why is everything now available to solo players?

For WoW, I’ve been mainly raiding or running old heroic instances hoping for a rare mount/pet to drop. I did have some fun a few weeks back when I started a Warlock and was working my way through the revamped content. It seems I’ve done the Worgen and Goblin starter areas then motivation has died off. My motivation for the Warlock was catching up to the LBO who is into Westfall and really enjoying the storyline. Unfortunately, he’s put that aside for quite some time now with his focus mostly being on playing Minecraft with a kid from up the street.

I can’t bring myself to play a new character for a number of reasons. I’ve been through it, whether the content is new or not, I’ve killed enough murlocs, gnolls, pigmen and stuff in my time playing WoW. It doesn’t bring me any satisfaction or joy. I know the way there and I know I can do it but there is no motivation to do so. I think that’s a de-motivator – I know I can easily do it so I don’t feel a need to do so.

I haven’t played much of anything outside of WoW. A little bit of Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War 2 – Chaos Rising (yeah, that’s a mouthful) but I haven’t gotten too far into it yet. I think I’m about four or five missions in. I just unlocked my Terminator armor, which I love. I admit I like the single player of this game but don’t like the multiplayer or custom game options. I miss the base/unit building from the first DoW. I found it much more enjoyable. I especially enjoyed Conquest-type modes that showed up late in the DoW series.

I’ll end up playing some more of that single player.

I had Portal (the first one) gifted to me. I didn’t realize how short it was. Definitely fun, but short. I’m reluctant to pick up Portal 2 because it seems short as well, though not as short as the first one (which takes a couple of hours at worst).

I poked around Steam a little last night and downloaded the demo for Dungeons. It looked like a Dungeon Keeper type of game but it wasn’t quite as customizable as that. The dungeons appear to be predefined, though you can have minions make some changes for you. It didn’t do anything for me so I uninstalled.

I eyeballed Two Worlds 2 but without a demo I don’t know that I’ll try it.

I do still have several games to complete: Dragon Age 1, Divinity 2, Overlord 1 and Overlord 2. Maybe I’ll work on those some.

Still, none of those scratch the itch that is wanting a shared, challenging and memorable experience with friends.

Dawn of War II Beat and Chaos Rising…

I managed to steal some time to focus on finally beating this game. I lost my previous save game when I upgraded to Windows 7 and that save was sitting on the last mission. In a burst of gaming time I managed to get from level 5 all the way through to level 20 and finally went on the last mission.

This was inspired by the expansion being available, Chaos Rising, which I also bought and started playing though I didn’t get far.

A couple of gripes about the game overall:

  • I miss being able to build a base
  • I miss being able to build an army how I see fit
  • I miss holding points
  • I miss being able to save progress during a mission so I can come back to it (seems you have to exit missions to save)

A couple of gripes about the expansion:

  • I hate that my terminator armor suits are disabled
  • I hate that my squads start with gear that isn’t as good as I have in my stockpile (likely due to my first gripe)
  • I dislike that when you import from the previous campaign you’re tossed right into a mission (see fourth gripe above)
  • I’m not keen on there being prompts for interaction in the mission briefing without there being any choice (that I’m aware of) – if you’re going to try to add an RP element to the game, you need to give choices and let those choices have an impact.

I do admit I like the destructible terrain and wargear aspect of the game. I do like that the squads have personality and that was extended on in Chaos Rising.

I’m looking forward to playing the expansion when I get to it… which will likely be sometime next year.

Dawn of War II – Review (Campaign)

I’ve finally managed to get in some good play time with the game where it wasn’t crashing because of that memory dump issue – which now appears to be fix with a very recent patch. Go get it off Steam!

I’m not 100% sure if it is fixed because I did turn two graphic settings down from High to Medium. I don’t really notice a difference in the graphics just yet so I might just leave it there for the time being.

Single Player

WARNING: This game will cause you to suffer from “just one more…” syndrome. If you found yourself playing games like X-COM, Civilizations and other games that are somewhat turn based into the early hours of the morning – you may experience that with this game. While this is not turn based, it does give you that feel for doing missions.

I found myself falling into the trap of, “Oh, just one more mission… oh cool! That opened up. I’ll just try it…”. Be warned that you cannot save in the middle of a mission,  at least I didn’t see an option for that.

I suspect they did that because the award Gamer Points (or what ever they’re called) for doing X number of missions in a row without failure. It’d be hard to preserve the integrity of that if you could save right before a tough spot and reload if you failed or started to fail.


There are some spoilers ahead.

The single player campaign takes place in the backyard of the Blood Ravens. The system where they recruit from and let their initiates run around learning the hard way in. It has come under attack by Orks and these Orks are attacking some pretty smart targets. Clearly that means they are being directed towards these targets by someone, but who?

That’s quickly revealed to be the Eldar. Wait a second, didn’t that do that sort of thing in the first Dawn of War? Yeah, they did and they are at it again. Sneaky Space Elves, always manipulating people and not explaining anything.

So the Eldar are pushing the Orks to try to take over the system. Why? Because the Tyranids are coming and the Eldar know this. The Orks’ numbers and brutal nature are likely the only thing that can delay the Tyranids long enough… but long enough for what?

I haven’t gotten far enough to spoil that for you, though there was a hint about turning the worlds into ash and one of the squad leaders noted that Tyranids don’t burn things, they consume everything, no campfires required. That means the Eldar are working on something that will torch the worlds; Caldera, Typhon and Merdian.

That’s it for the spoilers.


You start off in charge of two squads. One of them is a the Force Commander which you will name before you start. The second is a Marine Squad led by Tarkus.

Every squad tends to have a leader and the leaders are pretty vocal, except the Force Commander, because if he was, he’d probably tell the others to shut up. There was one bit of chatter about respect that seemed a little too touchy feely for my liking but I couldn’t find the ‘smack squad leaders around a little’ button to get them to stop (ESC might have skipped it).

Each squad has a level. As you level, you get skill points which you can assign to four different attributes which I’ll call Health (Green), Ranged Combat (Orange), Melee Combat (Yellow) and Mental Stuff (Purple). I think they’re actually called something like Stamina, Accuracy, Strength and Energy but don’t quote me. Leveling also opens up more wargear options and has a base increase to the squad attributes.

Each squad has a cap in each attribute, often different, for each of these attributes. As you invest in this attributes, you increase the potency of the squad in that area and you might open up a trait or ability. Putting points into Green will increase the squad Health, Orange will get you better ranged damage, yellow gets you more melee damage and Purple gets you more energy.

Abilities and traits come at different points. Traits are passive modifications while Abilities are something you have to activate. For example, putting points into Green for Tarkus will give that squad the Taunt ability (do I need to explain what Taunt does?). For others it will let them carry more accessories (a trait) or sprint for a short time (an ability).

Aside from Attributes, Traits and Abilities, squads also get Wargear. This is simply gear that you can equip to the squad leader. These come as Accessories, Weapons, Armor and Command Items. Accessories show up for the squad in the same place as Abilities, in most cases, and they can be triggered from there (things like turrets, mines, grenades, medical kits are all Accessories). Weapons impact the damage and type of damage done. There are single handed and two handed weapons available. Armor should be pretty self explanatory – it’s armor. Command Items are specific only to the Force Commander (so far).

Wargear has requirements. Some are level specific, some are limited to specific squad leaders and others require the squad leader have a specific trait available. Wargear also has a con system. There is plain white stuff, green stuff (wargear with bonuses) and blue stuff (wargear with some pretty nice bonuses). I’m not sure if it goes higher than that yet.

Wargear that you don’t want or can’t use can be recycled for XP (drag unwanted gear down to the bar at the bottom and you’ll get some XP for it).

Each squad also has a class. I have the Force Commander, Space Marines, Scout, Assault Squad (these guys rock!) and Heavy Weapons Marines. The classes appear to define what attributes go how far and what abilities they have access to (i.e. you won’t ever have the Assault Squad’s jump ability or the Scout Squad’s Infiltration ability on a regular Space Marine Squad).

All in all, the squad system in the campaign is pretty neat. Advancement requires XP and is skill based. There is some customization but also limits on it due to classes.


I’ve done a number of missions in both my attempts at the campaign (I got pretty far in then deleted my saved game thinking the issue I had was a corrupted save game – it wasn’t) and so far I’ve seen two types of missions; offensive and defensive.

Offensive missions usually have objectives you need to meet. These tend to be kill so-and-so or destroy all the enemy Webway Gates. You’re usually planted on one side of the map and your main objective is on the other side. And there is usually a lot of stuff preventing you from getting there.

Defensive missions appear to work under a certain timer where you will see a number of waves attack you. It seems they tend to come form one direction, rather than several. You also get some bonus turrets and mines you can place before (or during) the attack. You might want to swap Accessories for your squads so you can bring extra turrets, maybe extra grenades and possibly more fire power. I wouldn’t drop some of your melee squads, though. Most Defensive missions end with facing a boss.

The final objective for most missions tends to involve a boss (though sometimes it involves destroying structures). Bosses are extra tough units of a given type. They tend to have vulnerabilities which can be revealed before you take the mission on the Deployment screen. These tips, and the number that appear, depend on you having captured Communications Arrays (mentioned below). Keep an eye on these tips and adjust your squads and their load outs accordingly!

Bosses are pretty tough and require a lot of micromanaging of your squads. Pay attention to the on screen queues (markers showing up around your squads, bosses having a marker appear and it pointing at a squad, etc.) and what your squads yell out. They give you a lot of clues of what is coming. Don’t forget to make liberal use of your medical kits (I like to give it to someone that will be in the middle of everyone else so they all get healed) and you might want to save your Tarantula Bolter Turrets to be deployed here.

NOTE: In one mission I rushed to the boss and he wouldn’t appear. I’m not sure if that was due to me missing some beacons or previous objectives. I’m pretty sure there were no prior objectives. I went back and captured the beacons then went back and the boss showed up.

Each mission takes up a ‘deployment’ for that day. You start off with only one deployment per day. This can increase if your mission that day is a big success.

At the end of each mission you get a results screen that shows how Furious, Resilient and Fast you were. These rank from 1-5 and the higher your rankings the more extra XP you get. If you fill the bar you get an extra deployment for that day. If you have Foundries (mentioned below) these bar further expands based on how many Foundries you have. This makes it easier to get an extra deployment. If you have a lot of Foundries, you might even been rewarded with two extra deployments.

Deploying several times in a day is a good thing. Each day, things occur. Generally this will be the Tyranid Infestation level on each of the planets increasing, reduced by the number of Shrines you have (mentioned below) but sometimes this includes bonus missions which you have a certain number of days to do.

During missions you want to capture Beacons because you can use them to reinforce your squad (replace lost members of the squad). There are other structures you can capture if you want to take a side route. The resources are Shrines, Foundries and Arrays. You can capture one of these resources per deployments (you can capture as many beacons as you want) but you will find you get opportunities to deploy to the same location more than once – that’s a good opportunity to go get the other resource for that area. Do it!

Shrines reward you with an Accessory that lets you trigger temporary invulnerability – each shrine held appears to give you a charge of this per deployment. I believe these are also supposed to help reduce the amount of Tyranid Infestation that occurs daily.

Foundries give you the Tarantula Bolter Turret Accessory which you can plant somewhere and it will act as an automatic turret. You appear to get one per Foundry you control. (I like to save them up and use them on the bosses for missions.) These also help you earn multiple deployments in a single day – always a good thing when the Tyranid Infestation increases daily.

Communication Arrays get you an Accessory that lets you call in an air strike on a given area. Like the others, the more Arrays you hold, the more times per deployment you can do this. Also, these appear to give you access to tips on what to expect in the mission, like Boss vulnerabilities or recommending you pick fast moving squads for the mission.

As if there wasn’t enough things to advance or measuring your success in Campaign Mode, there is one more measurement. At the top of the main screen (where you pick squads, adjust load outs and pick planets/missions), is a title. The title changes as you advance through the Campaign. It also tracks a bunch of other things like kills and which races you’ve killed. Nifty, but it doesn’t seem to have any impact on the game.


Combat is pretty straight forward. You’ve got melee and ranged combat. Each has its own rating per squad which is impacted by their skill with that weapon class (melee/ranged) and the weapons in use as well.

On top of the typical autoattack are some special abilities like Focus Fire, Rocket Jump, Charge and so on. Each of these abilities are native to a given class type or by training. This doesn’t differ much from the first DoW, however, you do not get to load up all members of the squad with certain weapons. You do get to load out the squad leader though.

Reinforcing a squad works differently too since you don’t build a squad at a building and just add more people to it like in DoW. In DoW2, you pick up squads as you go through various missions. Don’t worry, you won’t miss any. Squads do have numbers of members which can die off. If you lose a squad member, you will need to head to a controlled point and hang out to reinforce your squad. Missing members sort of beam down to you (not really).

These controlled points are Beacons or Resources you’ve captured or your starting point. I believe the tutorial suggests only the Beacons, but you can reinforce squads at the starting point or capture resource areas!

If your squad completely dies off, you lose all members and the squad leader lies down where they last were. You have to send another squad over to pick up the fallen member. When they revive, they’re alone and pretty low so you should probably secure the area before reviving them.

If you lose all your squads the mission fails and you’re returned to the orbiting space cruiser. I haven’t had this happen to me yet so I’m not sure what happens when you fail a mission.

Like in DoW, cover plays a pretty big role in keeping your squads alive. It’s really important! They’ve given you indicators to let you see where your men will be placed and set up their facing. The color of the indicator tells you how much cover they have; white is no cover, yellow is some cover and green is good cover. Some cover can be destroyed – including buildings, which you can have squads enter.

Squads without cover are more prone to become suppressed. Suppressed squads will drop to their bellies and crawl about slowly. They’re at a huge disadvantage at this point so you’ll want to get them out of there or bail them out by taking out the enemy squad that is suppressing them. You can get them out by selecting one of the commands for the squad – its the yellow one all the way to the right (I think it’s called “Fall back!”). This button will make the survivors of your squad get up and run away as fast as they can. They can still be killed, but they’re more likely to get out of the line of fire before they do. They will run back to the nearest beacon or the starting location (I don’t use it so I’m not sure). Some squads, like the Space Marine squad, gets an ability that lets them shrug off being suppressed so they can move to more cover at a slower rate. There are also items that help reduce the chance of becoming suppressed. There are also abilities that cause suppression.

I think that about covers it for combat – at least as far as I have gone.

Some of these mechanics will be familiar to those who have played Company of Heroes that should come as no surprise!

I did manage to try a Multiplayer Game against the CPU controlled opponent but only one. The mechanics change quite a bit, but I’ll post about that another time.

Dawn of War II – Second Impression (pt.1)

I’ve had to uninstall it and reinstall it in hopes that it fixes what ever issue it is having when it is trying to start up. The dump crash issue is known, apparently plaguing Vista 32-bit OSes specifically and has to do with how they dump memory. Go figure.

It’s really tempting to switch this to Vista 64-bit but I’m worried some old devices might not have 64-bit drivers (the issue would exist on winXP-64 bit too). With that in mind, maybe I’ll take a look at Windows 7.

Back to the game.

It rocks. It’s oddly satisfying. All the big explosions, blood pinatas and battle cries are there. I think I’m a ways into it but have yet to have a vehicle on my side, though it was hinted that a Goliath is on the way.

I was worried about the squad based combat as opposed to building up things and letting them go. However, you still get to do some set up and deploying without the need to gather resources – one benefit is portable bolter turrets and deployable mines. The Assault Squad is pretty fun – it didn’t take me long to get the Death From Above achievement because it was just so much fun having them rocket in, land on the enemy and send them all flying.

Really, no complaints aside from the bloody crash which is preventing me from playing… TV time, I’ll post later.

UPDATE: They released a patch that is supposed to help with the crash issue. My issue of failing even to load up seems to have come from not being able to log into LIVE. Of course, I discovered this after assuming it was a corrupted save game and deleted my save games.

I went digging through the log files and found one called warning.txt ([user]\Documents\My Games\Dawn of War 2\Logfiles\)which complained about not being able to log into the LIVE service, followed up with a fatal error. Once again, I’d like to refer you to the tester haiku. If it’s as simple as not being able to log into LIVE, why not show a bloody prompt saying as much?

I rebooted, logging into the LIVE client manually, then MSN and the started up the game and it worked. Admittedly, I was having some issue with MSN which is tied to that LIVE gamers thing. Isn’t there some saying about having all your eggs in one basket?

I played the started mission with no problem but I turned down two settings just in case the fix didn’t really work. There was someone on the Relic boards saying it worked up until a certain point.

Dawn of War II: First Impressions

I should prefix this with “I did not have a lot of time to play. This first impression post is literally, a first impression from a short amount of time playing. I think I played it for all of 30 minutes!”. If you’re looking for something precise and in depth, go elsewhere. I will have a more in depth follow up at another time but this should suffice for people that didn’t know this game was coming and I do note some pretty obvious differences.

PART 1 – I Just Want to Play Dammit!

After it installed, I wasn’t prompt for a Windows Live Gamer ID so I didn’t bother making one. I launched it from Steam. Then launched it again. Seems the first time you launch from Steam it checks that it’s legit or something (up to date?) and once that is done you have to click play. You then get another pop up telling you your CD key which you will (apparently) need to enter into the game once it starts.

It starts up, pretty cinematic which was already released. I get to the starting screen and a Steam overlay pops up at the bottom. Okay, so I can access some of the Steam features like finding friends or something like that, I didn’t look too closely other than to find out that SHIFT+TAB closes it. SHIFT+TAB. Another overlay for Steam shows up saying a bunch of stuff… I thought I closed this? SHIFT+TAB and it went away.

Down from the top pops the Windows Live overlay.

It has my accont name and icon, some buttons for settings, inbox, chat and friends list. I see I’m online – go surprise there – and close the overlay. I get another pop up saying if I want to bring it up again I just have to press HOME. I close that too and think to myself, I’m just going to play single player, why do I care about that stupid overlay?

I click on Campaign and it says, “Please log into Windows Live”. I press HOME and log in. Grrr…

I click Campaign again and it lists me as Player One and Player Two as empty – oh right, there is a co-op mode to this game. Neat. I click Start again, it starts up and tells me I’m to be the savior of the planet Calderis, home world and breeding ground for the Blood Ravens. Orks are attacking, you are the only one sent in because you’re so awesome – I’m not sure if everyone will get this because I get the impression it was aimed specifically at me… being awesome and all that.

The loading was a bit slow bit the loading screen was sort of neat. The starting mission finish loading and I discover it is a non-intrusive tutorial. Thank you!

You’re given some simple tasks like move your guys up using cover, fight off some orks and help save the encampment. The tips on how to move pop up as icons on the left of the screen with little titles so you can pick and choose which ones you want to (or need to) see. I clicked on one for the sake of it and the tip popped open with a voice reading it out for me. Good stuff, I could listen and focus on what was happening in the game.

It doesn’t take too long to bail the encampment out, I didn’t start all that far away from it. The guy in charge says we need to go recover a supply area those bloody Greenskins took. So I go do that, but on the way I face my first vehicle. Pretty neat, you don’t get to blow it up, it will retreat.

You then take back the supply area and blow up the mine entrance from which the Orks have been spewing out of.

At that point, you get a congratulations and the guy talks to you a bit more. You’re presented with a results screen along with some of the Wargear you collected and which squads leveled.

I eagerly clicked Continue and was shown a loading screen with no progress bar. After waiting for a minute, I noticed there was a window in the background and the game had crashed. Some issue assigning something.

Disappointed, I OKed the crash dialogs and had to log off to help my son with the PS2 game he bought (Star Wars: Bounty Hunter).

I did manage to make it to bed at a reasonable time though. 🙂

PART 2 – Did DoW Get a Haircut?

Campaign Mode

Campaign Mode starts off with only Space Marines as the only option and I’m not sure if that will change during the campaign. I thought this game was due out much later than this so I haven’t done the research on it and I also didn’t read the manual.

I’ll revisit this later when I get a chance to go further in.


They appear to have moved away from the squad building and resource management type of game that the original DoW was. I’ll admit, this almost made me not want to buy the game but I figured I’d give it a try.

Your squads have a set number and specific abilities which limited use. Squads have health, and I get the impression as the health gets lower, the number of people in the squad drops which appears to impact damage they do.

They also have some sort of focus or action points or mana. I’m not sure it was morale because I believe it fuels some of the specials for the guys. I could be wrong and this may simply be the morale bar.

The squad you start with is (I believe) a Space Marine squad. It has four guys and is level one. The squad also had two abilities. The first seemed to allow the squad to shrug off a ‘pinned down’ state and allow them to move at reduce speed to better cover – this is the one that appears to use the other bar but I could be wrong, I never actually had to use it. The second ability was tossing a frag grenade which works wonders; big boom, destroys destructible items including guard towers.

The squad had expected movement actions available to it like move, attack and attack move. I didn’t pay too much attention to this, I will next time. 🙂


You also get hero-like units. This isn’t that far off of what DoW had originally, except you cannot add them to a squad. They act independantly.

The hero units are more durable and have more of a leadership type of ability. The hero unit you start with, who gets named after the name you specify when starting up, is a Force Commander. He starts at level one and has two abilities. The first ability appears to be an attack that sends him charging towards the designated location, smiting everything on the way there – this is on a cool down timer. Pretty cool. The second ability lets you heal nearby allies. This, like the frag grenade, has a limited number of charges.


I get the impression there will be a few more specials added as you go because there was plenty of room for it in the GUI. I suspect this is tied to levels and wargear you might pick up.

Supply Packs

Enemy squads, structures or destructible containers will drop these. If you pick these up, you refresh your squads’ limited specials (frag grenades and the medical kits). I didn’t notice if these refresh squad health but I did notice that you didn’t actually need to run a squad over to collect it – you, the user, simply clicks on it and you collect it. That seems a little odd.


This is pretty important and not as simple as it used to be in DoW because most cover appears to be destructible. That means your cover can go away so you need to micromanage your squads more. While cover is in place, you’ve got a good advantage and your units are protected.

I believe this also makes their morale stay higher up.

Note that you cannot simply click “Reinforce Squad” and replace fallen members of the squad so cover is even more important than it was in DoW.

Pinned Down

I haven’t experienced this, but I saw it in a gameplay trailer a couple of months ago. It seems when your squad’s morale is broken or they’re taking a lot of fire without (enough) cover, they will drop to their bellies and become ‘pinned down’. Their effectiveness becomes reduced quite significantly. It seems like it is a replacement for the good old “squad broken!” warning in DoW. While pinned down, they don’t move much so you’ll need to bail them out.

Like in DoW, there appears to be abilities that let you deal with this. I noted the Space Marine squad seems to have one that lets them stand up and move slowly away from where they were.


Much like in the later expansions to DoW, you get wargear which can be used to upgrade units. I had two pieces of wargear when I finished the starter level. One was a gun and the other was a sword. I think both were specific to the Force Commander but I remember hearing you can get some to augment your regular squads with.

These appear to come with advancing the story (I think I got that sword one from that) or are dropped from enemy squads, containers or structures.


They added a level mechanic that is a little more obvious than the one in DoW.

I didn’t notice enough of a change in the squad or unit while playing but I will pay more attention to this next time. I do remember from the demo video, that levels will eventually give you some sort of talent spec tree you can tweak the units with.


Sorry, I didn’t die at all so I’m not sure what they’re doing for this. If I remember right, your squad or unit becomes disabled, completely. You need to use another unit to revive it, I believe.

Dawn of War II

There’s good news and bad news.

Good news is I found this on the shelf of the local game store. I’ve been waiting for this game for awhile now, I loved the previous DoW game and expansions. In fact, they’re still on my system and have been for years.

The bad news is that I found this on the shelf of the local game store. I’ve been getting about five hours of sleep per night, if I’m lucky. This game is going to ruin my plans of going to bed early.

The other downside is that it requires Steam and Live accounts. That’s a little excessive for a game I’m just going to play single player on.

What happened to the days of buying the game, installing it and just starting it up? Now I’ve got to install Steam, make an account, download the game files, install it, create a Live account and do some other crap I’ve no interest in doing.

Okay, so I did have a Steam account from back when I got Half-Life 2 and Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, but that was a loooooong time ago. Recovery is pretty easy though so that’s done.


Fuck you pirates. I blame you.

I also blame Microsoft simply because they’re coming between me and my game when I’m dead tired and just want to start it up and play for a bit before I pass out.

Grumble grumble grumble…