This standalone expansion to the excellent Dawn of War 2 (DOW2) can be played without the first instalment, though we certainly wouldn’t recommend it. The RTS action takes off just after the climax of the first game. Your battle hardened Space Marines return, and continue, somehow, to overcome their stereotyped roles to inject some real character into their post-mission banter.
Once again the sector is threatened by various nasties, with the main protagonists being the new Chaos Space Marines. It’s great to see this classic Warhammer foe again, complete with spiky armour and threats of eternal damnation, but initially the gameplay seems a tad too familiar.
Select a team based on mission intelligence and tool them up appropriately, before cautiously annihilating the enemy. Use your heavy weapons to lay down covering fire, advance on targets with your tactical squad, and disrupt packed enemies with jump-pack equipped assault troops. Level up your abilities (the level cap is now moved to 30) and repeat. Great stuff, but just more of the same; until a few missions in, when you realise all is not quite right with your team.
It’s the corrupting influence of the Chaos gods that’s afoot, and decisions made during your missions (often the easy choices to success) will send individual squad members incrementally down the path of corruption. Doing so opens up a whole raft of powerful new abilities, the best of which let you summon demons and hypnotise enemy units. However, other abilities and items will be blocked from use as your marines lose their usual zealotry for their Emperor-god.
The missions themselves are fairly varied, the plot has interesting twists, and there are even multiple endings. Multiplayer benefits from the addition of a fifth army, Chaos, plus there are extra units for the original four forces. Chaos Rising polishes DOW2 to near-perfection. It’s a must-have for anyone who enjoyed the first game. If you missed out, but still fancy some over-the-top tactical sci-fi action, then a double-pack Gold Edition is available for only £25.