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The Razz: A Kill Bill; Death and explosions...yes war is still favourite on the menu.

WARHAMMER 40,000: DAWN OF WAR

#####PC

THERE was a time when you couldn't help but trip over this in the High Street.

The metal miniatures were pioneered by Games Workshop and, at their height, their stores were full of acned yoof playing the tabletop version of this.

I never got into it though. Just as I balked at Tolkien's lot permanently stuck in the Middle Ages, I couldn't get to grips with this, which is probably what would have happened had Sauron nicked the Ring and kicked Frodo's hairy ass into Mount Doom.

So, thanks to THQ - who also do Full Spectrum Warrior - you have 40,000 years of technological development and magic.You have Gandalfs, demons and laser rifles. You get tanks crewed by goblins and Orks with flamethrowers. It is mad and fascinating in equal measure.

The game is limited to four of the most popular races from the Warhammer universe and the stars are Space Marines, fanatiuc defenders of humanity and absolute nutters.

Space Marines are the base units and the mysterious Eldar are next up - Elves with laser weapons.Then you have Chaos Warriors - lots of Darth Vaders with attitude - and, of course, Orks. No fantasy game, regardless of dimension or technology, would be the same without these ugly stars.

Graphically, this is just breathtaking, modelled to almost absurd levels, down to tiny little tattoos on individual faces.This hits directly at the miniature figure gamers who are the core fans of this title and spend hours painting the metal figures. Since this also gives you a chance to customise, with a choice of colours and design, as well as upload your own troop symbols, it plugs directly into the table-gamers' veins.

However, gameplay is the thing and this has it in spades. When units collide, there are no pre-programed little movements here - they get down to some serious melee.

The Eldar whirl through their ninja moves, the Space Marines switch from rifles to impaling opponents on blades and using a foot to get them off.

Despite the attraction for tabletop gamers, this isn't the same.There's no time-to think turn-based combat here - it is fast, nasty RTS fighting.

The resource thing can be a pain, but it's minimised, by making peasants cheap and easy to make. Killing them is a waste of time, so you can't force an opponent out by stopping him building.

That's important because this was designed primarily for multiplay. It has tutorials for all races, but the single-player campaign will only allow use of Space Marines.THQ say this is to 'facilitate a more powerful storytelling experience', but I think it is a cop-out.

This is clearly designed with a long-term franchise in mind. As an opener, it is a classic.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 24, 2004
Words:461
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