I finally got my DoW2: Retribution in today. It is pretty freaking cool. To nobody's surprise, I have started an Imperial Guard campaign.
Sergeant Merrick is awesome. He is the kind of guy who has been fighting every monster and daemon the galaxy has to offer for the past ten years and is getting pretty sick of it. One of his lines is "Give me something to shoot, this ammo is heavy".
And him and the Commander are great to listen to. The Commander is a proper Imperial Officer. His special commander item is a Nice Hat. At one point he says, "A brave man will not run from the attacks of his enemies, but a smart man will find some cover." To which Merrick says "If I was smart, I would left this sector years ago."
So I beat the Imperial Guard campaign on Normal Difficulty. Took about 8 hours all told.
They have changed the way the game works. Instead of having a Sergeant leading a squad of Space Marines, you have 4 heroes and recruit more squads or vehicles. Different system and works well. Probably so they could make 6 sets of 4 heroes instead of 6 sets of 7 (or more) like with the system from DoW2 and Chaos Rising.
They also have an 'honor guard' system where you can bring a squad of troops along instead of one of the heroes. I never used this for one reason: The Guard is starved of accessory slots. Fully upgraded, you can equip 6 accessories. For me, I try to take Meltabombs, a Rosarius, Frag Grenades, Satchel Charges, and Medical Kits on all my missions. If I left any of my heroes behind, I wouldn't be able to do this. Now if I could get, shall we say a Baneblade, I might. But otherwise no. On some other groups that may have more accessories, I might try this.
It was a pretty good story. A couple minor spoilers here:
The Imperial Guard's story is that Inquisitor Adraste (I think I have that name right) has arrived in subsector Aurelia to investigate some heresy and maybe stop an Exterminatus. She's recruited a Guard Officer named Castor and his Commissar Bernn and set off to find the source of the heresy. Along the way they pick up Sergeant Merrick. Together they fight heresy. Anyway, the four have a whirlwind adventure of twists of turns across the subsector and eventually defeat the big bad and proceed to shoot swarms of Space Marines, Chaos Marines, renegade Guardsmen, Orks, Eldar, Tyranids, and anything else that got in their way.
Some unit info:
Lord Commander Castor - I don't know whether Castor is a jerk, too awesome for words, or just plain insane. He seems to be a cross between a 19th century British Officer who dabbles in big game hunting and an Imperial Commissar. He wields a Sniper Rifle, Plasma Rifle, Bolter, Meltagun, or Flamer in one hand a Power Sword in the other. Two Guardsmen follow him around to die every battle, but this doesn't seem to effect him very much.
Castor will spend his men like water to accomplish his objectives, but will not waste them on pointless missions. He constantly threatens to shoot Merrick for some reason or another, but keeps saying that would be wasteful and so never does.
He specializes in ranged combat and is quite good at it. In the last mission I had him running around with a plasma rifle taking out entire squads with one shot. He has the ability to summon all sorts of stuff by Valkyrie drop, from squad replacements to tanks to bunkers to stationary anti-tank turrets. The squad replacements is very handy as many of your squads are pretty soft and so will loose men quite quickly. Castor's special ability greatly offsets this and gives the Guard a lot of staying power.
Inquisitor Adraste - Supposedly is a Psyker unit and has a couple special abilities, but she is best used as a supporting melee unit. In my opinion, the worst of the four heroes mostly because she tries to be a psyker in her abilities but these abilities are rather weak and so she has to rely on her melee skills to be useful. Which are okay, but not nearly as good as Bernn's. She uses swords and force weapons.
Sergeant Merrick - If Merrick and Cyrus from the other DoW games ever teamed up, they would lay entire sectors to waste with their badassery. Merrick has had it up to here with fighting everything in the Galaxy and is not afraid to mouth off to Inquisitors, Officers, or Commissars. And he is skilled enough that they have to put up with it. He uses Plasma Guns, Bolters, Meltaguns, Heavy Bolters, Lascannons, Flamers, and Autocannons. Merrick also has a number of demolition skills (he gets mines and remote detonators as 'free abilities') as well as infiltration abilities and heavy weapon skills.
Commissar Bernn - Bernn has no personality. In the in-between mission banter he never says a word. And like half his special abilities are centered around his Execution ability. Even still, he is a awesome melee combatant, especially once he gets his 'no knockback and suppression' skill. He can use Power Fists and Power Swords.
For the individual squad types:
Guardsmen Squad - By the Emperor, do these guys suck. They have low damage and low hitpoints so they suffer heavy losses in ranged combat and they drop even faster in melee. Put them in some cover and they will lay down some consistent if unimpressive fire. With Castor's summon reinforcements power they can go from scrap to scrap without much difficulty provided a melee heavy unit doesn't get to them.
Heavy Weapons Team - This is a pretty strong unit. It's slow and takes a while for them to setup their gun, but the unit is essential early on for it's antivehicular ability. Late game they are still useful if for no other reason then their repair ability. They can fix damaged vehicles, keeping your Russ and Baneblades in action. You need to get them to the Autocannon upgrade ASAP. This makes the going a lot easier with them providing fire support. Be sure to back them up with a squad of...
Catachans - Imagine a unit of guys that think Rambo is a big pansy and take out tanks with shotguns and you have these guys. They also get some nice upgrades with a Demo-Guy who chucks scratch built bombs that can level buildings, a Heavy Weapons guy armed with an automatic grenade launcher, and a guy with a meltagun and meltabombs. THIS is your 'basic squad' I think.
Storm Troopers - Not as good as I had hoped. They need a bit more HP I think and they will be good. Their ranged attacks are good and upgradable but their melee is unimpressive. Keep them behind the Catachans and they will do well.
Ogryns - Another disappointing unit. The Ogryns are more expensive then they are worth, even upgraded. They die much too fast and are not that much more effective then Catachans at melee.
Sentinels - Built a couple. They died in the first fights they got into. Waste of resources.
Chimeras - Very effective. They are like a mobile garrison building with their own turret. Very handy for getting places. Units inside can still fire out. When paired with a Guard Squad, can actually be an impressive assault unit.
Leman Russ - A note on the Leman Russ: Castor has an ability to summon a Leman Russ for an absurbly low amount of energy. This Russ is permanent until it dies and is just as upgradable as your base build Russ. The summonable one costs less and is ready faster so don't bother building them at the base.
That said, the Leman Russ can make any encounter easy. Especially once you get the Executioner upgrade. I had 2 going at the final boss fight. It does have 4 guns. The turret, 2 sponson heavy bolters, and a hull lascannon. There was one mission that I don't I was supposed to have vehicles on, but I summoned the Russ anyway and the mission turned into an absolute cakewalk. The mission was on a Space Hulk however, so I have no clue how I was able to air drop it inside the tight passages of the Hulk.
Baneblade - Yes, you can get a Baneblade. Starting in the second to last mission. It is a thing of beauty. You can only have 1 out at a time. But it is worth it.
Overall, the game gets an 8/10. The only reason it looses points is because it was too short. ANd it made my awesome computer chug and lag at more then a few points when the awesome is really happening. Like when I am airdropping in a tank and squad reinforcements at the same as a planet is blowing up beneath my feet ala 'Search for Spock' while a swarm of Orks, Tyranids, and Daemons are swarming around me and engaged in a four way battle with each other and me with lots of explosions.