The latest foray into the venerable Warhammer 40K universe, Eutechnyx's Storm of Vengeance is a lane strategy game that pits the Space Marines of the Dark Angels against the savage orks. It's been available on mobiles and tablets for a while, but now there's a PC version coming in at over twice the cost. Does it do enough to justify paying more than twice the amount of the mobile version? Read on to find out! But seriously, the answer's no.
In simple terms, Storm of Vengeance
plays a bit like Plants Vs Zombies
. You've got five lanes, each of which has a building slot on your side and one on the enemy's. To win a match you have to destroy three of your opponent's lanes before he does the same to you. Plonk down your Space Marines (or orks) onto a lane and they’ll march forward, shooting anything in their way until they reach the enemy building, at which point they start blowing that up too. To win you have to find the balance between keeping your own objectives safe while slowly whittling down your opponents. That's pretty much it.
|The AI is easily outwitted, and challenges only in missions where they start with a resource advantage
Combat comes down to a familiar rock-paper-scissors test of countering units with the appropriate squads; melee units like Assault Marines can take out basic foot troops in short order, while heavy weapon Devastators are experts at taking out vehicles and structures. Straightforward enough, if not particularly exciting.
To the game's credit, there are at least a few different options to try out when equipping your core troops. Your skill tree allows you to unlock various different abilities with experience earned in combat, each of which you can add to your units. Doing so increases build time and cost, so there's a choice to be made between throwing out poorly equipped units at great speed, or saving up for heavy-hitting troops with useful special abilities. Those abilities include temporary speed boosts, targeted anti-building grenades, slow-firing but deadly plasma weaponry, and a few others.
Two resources, manpower and renown, govern your ability to produce units. Manpower is used for your basic squads of melee, ranged and tactical infantry. Renown is for your hero units and special abilities – eventually you can summon Dark Angels chapter master Belial or ork warboss Ghazgkull, top-tier fighters that will obliterate anyone but each other in a fight. You can set your buildings to produce renown at the cost of being able to build your core units if you wish, though doing so tended to lead to me being overrun by scores of the enemy. That's it really. Ten matches in and you've seen basically everything the game has to offer.
|Notice how these screenshots look basically the same? Yeah, me too
Ultimately, despite the token attempt at variety, things never get much more complex than flinging tiny Space Marines across your lanes until the tiny enemy buildings blow up. There's little real strategy or slowly emerging depth- you just pump out as many units as humanly (orkly?) possible. Bland repetitive environments and tedious, repetitive missions in the singleplayer campaigns don't help, and get tiresome very quickly. Multiplayer is a step up, mainly because human players provide a level of challenge that the slow-witted AI simply can't muster, but doesn't do nearly enough to hold your attention past a few matches. Plus, you don't have to sit through lots of incredibly pointless chatter before each fight. Storm of Vengeance
's dialogue and story is delivered in the most perfunctory manner possible, little more than text boxes that pop up before each mission to give you some idea what the hell is going on. Apparently it's all based on established 40K
lore, but I can't imagine anyone, even hardcore franchise fans, paying more than cursory attention. It's just not worth it. In fact there's really nothing here for fans of the setting. Familiar names and iconography are thrown around, but they're little more than window dressing. Storm of Vengeance
captures nothing of 40K
's dark, rich atmosphere. Certain key units you'd associate with the Dark Angels (Deathwing Terminators for one) aren't even in the base game. Why not? Well they're arriving as paid DLC, of course.
|Special command abilities can affect certain units within their radius, giving them minor buffs
It's all so basic, so bland, and that's not something you should associate a 40K
game with. Is this really the best that Eutechnyx and Games Workshop could come up with? Fans of the tabletop wargame are fans because of Warhammer
's complex tactical game and colourful, over the top universe, and neither of those concepts are in evidence here. This is video game design as factory production; a dully functional game rushed out cheaply at the most basic level of competence to make as much money as possible with minimum effort and creativity. It's not even awful enough to be entertaining. This license deserves so much better.
WARHAMMER 40,000: STORM OF VENGEANCE VERDICT
It’s also demonstrably a mobile or tablet game, with mobile mechanics and ideas, that’s been hastily pushed out on a platform it isn’t suitable for to sell a few extra copies. Everything, from the resolution of the interface with its oversized buttons and huge fonts to the slapped together ‘campaign’ mode and bland, character-free graphics, feels designed for bite-sized portions of gameplay on the move or when you’ve got a few minutes to spare. This is not a PC game. And the pricing? Charging more than twice as much as the mobile version for the privilege of playing an unspectacular game on a platform it is clearly not designed for is a ludicrous decision. There’s nothing here that justifies that increased price, and you should stay away.
TOP GAME MOMENT
The occasional bloody death animation brings back warm, fuzzy memories of Dawn of War. Then you wish you were playing that instead.