Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War Winter Assault review: Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War Winter Assault

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The Good Extended single player campaigns. New faction and units. More balanced than precedessor.

The Bad AI is still flakey at times.

The Bottom Line If you are growing tired of chopping wood, mining gold or hunting deer and would like to see how real time strategy should be played, then Dawn of War: Winter Assault is just the tonic for Christmas.

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The Dawn of War Winter Assault expansion pack retails for AU$49.95. The Gold Edition, which includes Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War and Winter Assault, retails for AU$79.95.

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War was an excellent example of real time strategy gaming at its finest, but it had one noticeable flaw. While its multiplayer component was top notch, the single player campaign left gamers wanting more -- there were only about seven single player missions in the entire game and only one faction was playable.

Thankfully, the Dawn of War: Winter Assault expansion pack answers the call. Gone is the single player campaign where you can only play the powerful Blood Ravens, to be replaced by a more rounded choice of campaign between Order and Disorder. Order consists of alternating play between the defensive Imperial Guard and the mysterious Eldar, with the Disorder campaign allowing gamers to play as the sinister Chaos Marines and the burly Orks. This alternating play helps Winter Assault feel fresh, as players on occasion will find themselves switching factions within the same mission. This gives the campaigns a level of depth not previously seen, and is a nice change from the "one faction, one campaign" style of play seen in other RTS titles.

Campaigning as the newly introduced Imperial Guard is a welcome change of pace for Dawn of War. This new faction relies heavily on defense and has the special ability to move between buildings using a series of tunnels. The Guard can be within these buildings yet still retain the ability to fire at opponents. It's not all positives for the Imperial Guard, however -- the Imperial troops have a tendency to rout at a moment's notice, meaning you'll need an awful lot of leaders to keep morale high.

Some expansion packs have the tendency to destroy what was correct about a game yet fail to improve its faults - Winter Assault shows none of this. One of the strongest points about the original remains unchanged, that being the impressive economics system of requisition, power units and strategic points. Why game designers believe that punters will hand over their hard-earned cash to spend 20 to 30 minutes mining, chopping wood and building up forces for the all decisive final head on rush is beyond me.

Dawn of War encouraged players to dive headlong into the game by including the ability to create units proportional to how many points on the map were under their control. It is therefore in a player's best interest to get out into the map, destroy any enemies encountered and capture points from the opening seconds. Add to this mix the ability of units to reinforce loses mid-battle and you have an extremely fast paced and action packed game. This is made even faster in the expansion pack by having cheaper units, balanced forces and even more men in a squad.

A nice touch for shared computers is that the expansion pack does not change the original Dawn of War installation and therefore allows both games to be installed and playable on the same machine.

Winter Assault is a worthy expansion to an already excellent game. The extended single player mode is fantastic and the multiplayer is just as good as it always was. If you are growing tired of chopping wood, mining gold or hunting deer and would like to see how real time strategy should be played, then a box set of Dawn of War and Dawn of War: Winter Assault is just the tonic for Christmas.

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