A lot of people think that just making and releasing a great game is proof enough that you’re a professional. Fair enough, but personally I consider that the way a game studio treats its games after they’ve been released is another part of the equation. I’ve seen plenty of games which due to lack of support from the developers quickly lost their fan base. Same goes for expansion packs. I mean, what do you really need to release an add-on and collect a few extra bucks from loyal fans? A couple of new units or weapons, depending on the genre, some new maps, a couple of tweaks here and there, one or two new enemies and that’s about it. Works every time is the designers don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Well, Relic Entertainment decided that after Winter Assault it was time for a more in-depth change for Warhammer 40.000: Dawn of War, so the second expansion, Dark Crusade, comes packed with features which could have easily been included in a sequel.
First off, we have two new races, the Tau and the Necron, which bring the total number of player controllable factions to a whopping seven. W40K die-hard fans will probably sigh in disbelief seeing that the Tyranids are nowhere to be seen, again, but fear not, for Relic seems to have big plans for the W40K universe in 2007. Getting back to the newcomers, the Tau are a coalition of races that managed to accomplish in 2000 years what other races accomplished in thousands or even millions of years, hence their call-name “the young ones”. At the opposite pole are the Necrons, a race even older that the ancient Eldar, whose sole purpose is to exterminate all life in the galaxy, serving some pretty nasty deities, called the C’tan, who granted the Necrontyr race immortality millions of years ago at the price of eternal servitude.
Due to their rapid evolution, the Tau have become feared by the other races for their superior technologies and battle suits, which can decimate whole enemy squads in a heart beat. The Necrons on the other hand are incredibly resilient, with their soldiers being able to come back to life even after they’ve been destroyed, not to mention the fact that their economic system is slightly different from the norm. The other races haven’t been forgotten either: the orks have received a much needed help in the ranged attack department, the forces of Chaos have a new upgrade for the Chaos Lord, the Eldar and Space Marines can boast some new melee fighters while the Imperial Heavy Weapons team has also received an upgrade. As such, the seven races of Dark Crusade are surprisingly well balanced, even though, on a more personal note, I think that the Necrons get a little bit too powerful towards the end game.