Review: The only knock against it is that the Chaos Marines still speak like they are drugged.
How do you follow-up the real-time-strategy game of the year? You add tons of new content in an expansion pack, that's how.
When Dawn of War hit the PC in late 2004 it did something that had never been done before. It turned Warhammer 40,000, the tabletop struggle of Man vs. Ork (vs. Eldar vs. Chaos, etc.) into a good--nay, great-- videogame. Gone were the days of marginal titles like Final Liberation and Space Hulk and generally disappointing games like Fire Warriors. Fans of the Games Workshop franchise were treated to special treatment by THQ and Relic and when all was said and done they wanted more.
That is where Dawn of War Winter Assault comes in. As far as expansion packs go, Winter Assault goes above and beyond the call of duty. Sure, there are the expected multiplayer maps for those of you that just go out there and skirmish with your buddies. But what really makes WA shine is the extra stuff: A new character for each of the four playable races from Dawn of War; Two new campaigns that take you down both sides of a power struggle; An entirely new playable race. That's right, a fifth playable race.
The Imperial Guard, the Emperor's Fist, made appearances in the Dawn of War's campaign as support for your Space Marine army. However, the were conspicuously missing from the multiplayer skirmish mode, causing some players to call, "foul!" Now those whining babies can finally send their Ogryn's head first into battle to decimate the vile xenos that plague the galaxy. Of course, evening the playing field for the other races in Winter Assault are the brand new characters that I mentioned earlier. For the Space Marines, the Chaplain deals out pain to the unrepentant Chaos hordes. For the Orks it is Mega Armored Nobs, the Eldar have their Firedragons, and the Chaos are blessed (cursed?) with Khorne Berzerkers.
The new characters and race in Winter Assault further illustrate the careful consideration that Relic paid to the tabletop game when creating the Dawn of War universe. Each race is completely unique from the rest, from tech tree to unit type, strengths to weaknesses. Inevitably, there is a race that will fit your playing style and, in the two new campaigns, you are forced to at least give each of the four races that Dawn of War itself didn't highlight a chance. Though on their own each Winter Assault campaign is way too short, I actually prefer them to the original game's campaign. What really sets them apart is that you control two different races in most of the individual levels before eventually diverging and finishing the campaign with your race of choice. Switching between races mid-level adds a new depth to the campaign the forces you to learn balance. It is a fantastic dynamic that I'd love to see explored in more titles.