However you choose to finish your missions, once you're done it's off to the campaign map to flog some loot, level-up your heroes, and deck out your squads with the latest and greatest shiny guns and armour. Dawn of War II's masses of empty points are eschewed for a simpler upgrade system, where one point equals a single new ability from three distinct paths of progression. You can even opt to leave your heroes out of the battle entirely, which balances out by giving regular units their own particular perks.
There's only one ten-odd hour campaign to plough through, so you'll mostly be going through the exact same levels and encounters regardless of whatever race you decide to pick. Being chased across the map by an Imperial Baneblade might be quite exciting the first time you see it, but the event quickly loses its appeal on its third recurrence. The series' endemic problem of tiresome boss battles, which quickly descend into wearisome slogs of attrition, are also back in force - the campaign's last encounter is Relic's worst offender yet.
It also doesn't help that Retribution devotes far too much time to the introductory segments, resulting in you spending a few hours too many going through the same tutorials with different sets of equally neutered attack forces. Once the training wheels do come off and the more powerful abilities are made available, the game opens up into something far more interesting, but it's too little too late.
Adversarial multiplayer modes return, but these seem to have already been bumped off by the genre dominance of StarCraft II; less than a week after launch the servers already seem barren. Relic's option to feature Steamworks over Games for Windows Live certainly makes the whole process of playing online much less painful, but Valve's one-size-fits-all matchmaking and ranking systems can't hold a candle to Blizzard's bespoke solution.
The return of Last Stand is a far more exciting proposition, however. Relic's take on a wave-based survival mode within their RTS mould was always a sure-fire winner, allowing the company to carve out their own little niche and afford the game some uncontested space. Retribution adds another hero unit into the mix - the Imperial Lord General - and adds a map for advanced players that cuts straight to the action.
In abandoning the tight focus of the former Dawn of War games, Retribution's sprawl offers increased versatility at the cost of inventive set pieces and the same sense of progression. There's a lot of choice to be had for your money, but the campaign feels a little bland compared to its predecessors, and the idea of repeating it over and over for each of the six races is hardly a pleasant one.
VideoGamer.com Score7 Score out of 10
- Last Stand mode is still excellent.
- Six races to choose from.
- Doesn't live up to former games.
- Campaign is repetitive.