Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Angry nerd worried about the Tyranids in Dawn of War 2

Relic has posted an official Dawn of War 2 trailer showing off various Tyranids in action. I don't see a single thing in this video that couldn't have been done in the original Dawn of War engine, which belies the traditional Relic line that they were waiting until they had a game engine that could do Tyranids right. To me, that line of reasoning implied crazy numbers of swarming bugs filling the screen like a latest-gen version of the infamous Starcraft Zerg mission ten years ago. You remember that one, right? The Space Marines – I mean, Terrans – had fifteen minutes to build up a base, at which point an impossible onslaught of Zergs flooded onto the screen. That was mind-blowing back then, before every other RTS did the same thing. I presumed Relic was waiting until they could do that sort of thing with the Tyranids. But in their Tyranid debut video, I don't think I ever counted more than a dozen on screen at once.

Furthermore, this Gamespot write up of the Liepzig demo of a Tyranid mission just reinforces my concern that the Dawn of War sequel will play like an action RPG. Recovering health by capturing points on the map? Manually moving individual marines through mines and around attackers? A boss battle? Story-driven events scattered throughout the game?

And the following guff about the Tyranid "hive mind" AI is different from any old tactical AI how?

[The Company of Heroes] engine…is now being used to power the "hive mind" behaviors of the tyranids. Packs of smaller tyranid units may descend upon you like a swarm of insects, while more developed patrols may be led by a psychically powerful tyrant unit that connects weaker units to the larger "synapse" intelligence. Both types of behavior unfold as described, and along with spore mines--essentially, living, floating bombs that explode on contact with a concussive blast--they make for an enemy that can be both slow and menacing but startlingly fast.
I'm glad we're getting Tyranids, but I fail to see how any of this wouldn't have worked before. Anyway, I don't want to sound like an angry nerd pounding on his keyboard because the developer is desecrating his favorite game by not making the sequel JUST LIKE THE ORIGINAL. Because as a fan of sci-fi games in general and Relic in particular, I'm looking forward to whatever Dawn of War 2 turns out to be. But as a fan of real time strategy games in general and the original Dawn of War in particular, I'm worried that a) the sequel is straying too far from the original and b) that the Tyranids won't be as special as Relic has led us to believe they need to be.

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