Tuesday night we had a cocktail party with THQ. This party wasn’t what I was expecting. As you walk in you are blown away by the music and the huge plasma TV screens showing off Warhammer 4000 and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. I got a chance to talk with some of the folks who worked on both games. I had not known much of Warhammer 40000 – Dawn of War before going to this party.

Warhammer 40000 – Dawn of War is an RTS style game. The graphics are simply amazing and you can watch as the units interact with each other. They will jump on each other to attack and the animations are flawless. The units range from your standard grunt to your huge elephant thing with guns mounted on it. These giant units will charge into hordes of enemies and run them down.

There are some units that cast spells and you will see lightning rain down upon the enemy. The physics of the enemies flying is not only great to watch, it can sometimes be comical. You can sacrifice your chief guy, don’t know the exact name off hand, and turn him into a blood thirsty demon from hell. When he swings his axe the enemies may sometimes stick to it. The blood splashes around as the demon tries violently to shake the enemy off his battle axe.

Resource management isn’t a big thing in the game, but it does exist. You have two resources to keep your eye one. Power is the big one, but unlike Command and Conquer, if your power goes down your base isn’t defenseless. The other is points, these deals mainly with territory. I didn’t get much information on this, but you won’t have your grunts walking in and out of gold mines for 30 minutes.

I asked Sean Dunn, who works for THQ, about the multiplayer aspect of the game. My main concern would be that Warhammer would turn out like War Craft 3, which I despise. The only thing I don’t like about WC3’s multiplayer is that the games don’t last more than a few minutes. Sean told me they were aiming for 30-45 minutes of online play per match. This was done by reducing the attack power of lesser units, so you could have your units attack the enemy base and do almost no damage. This is the feature that appealed most to me as an online RTS fanatic.

Look for Warhammer – Dawn of War in the near future. This game is sure to bring a new feel to the RTS genre, which has been flooded by substandard games. If you are a fan of the genre keep close eyes on it, for it may be an instant hit. I hear there might be a beta around the corner.

Kurt Knudsen