To start I just got this game so I will be expanding this review throughout the next few days.
First the Bad.
The intro movie (to the game) feels more cartoony than the previous ones, I don’t like the style. I don’t feel that it is on par with Relic’s previous movies. This is a trivial complaint and perhaps merely artistic preference.
There doesn’t seem to be a race intro movie like there was in Dark Crusade. I really enjoyed these they made it feel more like freeform campaign than a large free for all. The campaign intro is there and very well put in setting the stage like there was in Dark crusade.
Interplanetary map navigation is clumsy (might not be the word I’m looking for). On my laptop at 800x600 resolution it is hard to tell sometimes what territory you are hovering over, and you can’t zoom in on the planets first. you must select the territory and attack or zoom in (can’t think of game term) on it, once there you can see the surrounding territories but not select them. The map is semi 3d it would be nice if it could be zoomed and navigated as if the planets were real. The close up planet maps are tacky looking too, they seem less high quality than Dark Crusade.
I have yet to find any maps with special objectives (and rewards, like Dark Crusade’s Spaceport) outside of enemy strongholds. I don’t believe they exist unfortunately.
The only maps with special objectives (outside annihilate and take and hold) are the enemy strongholds. And these maps are mostly accomplished with annihilate. I admit the take and hold maps are difficult, mostly because they require you to go on the offensive early as you can’t allow your enemy to have control.
The enemy strongholds do contain somewhat of a story… however it is less than it was in Dark Crusade, as it seems one way. There was a dialog between attacking and defending races in Dark Crusade. Now there seems to be just the movie, and some occasional banter on the attacking side but I have yet to see it be between the opposing armies commanders.
I believe that the Dark Eldar may be over powered. They are giving my Space Marines a run for their money on easy, and this is after I stomped the Orks and Tau. They have managed to beat Chaos as well, I find this odd on easy.
The Deep Strike power for the Space Marines seems to be bugged. I only figured out how to use it on my assault of the Tau Stronghold and it hasn’t worked since. The Ork Special power was very hard to find work and it’s description should be more clear. It will add infantry units to your territories (I haven’t determined how). But perhaps even more useful is that it will replace 1 infantry unit in your honor guard per turn. If there is only one to replace it, will replace that one, otherwise I think it may replace the cheapest first. The Tau special power is barely useful, it merely downgrades the territory you are attacking by one just before you commit to the attack. I highly doubt Chaos’s power will be useful either I’ve yet to have anything attempt to cut my supply line…
Both the Dark Eldar and Sisters of Battle are interesting races to play, and you will enjoy them if you enjoyed races of the previous games. I found soul harvesting for the Dark Eldar confusing at first, however there is an upgrade the to the ‘slave-torture chamber (?)’ that will produce souls, have 2 of those upgraded and 2 harvester’s a piece and I was set for any battle. The Sister’s of Battle’s Faith resource I still haven’t fully figured out what generates it (I believe units) however I’ve never had a problem attaining it.
Air support has been added to the races, it seems like a hack they don’t move like they should and don’t seem overly useful, although they can hit fairly heavy and quickly. Without a full range air force (bombers, fighters, stealth, cruisers, etc), air strategy just isn’t there.
To summarize, the new races in Soulstorm are a worthy addition, Air support is a bad hack, there’s less plot, and movies, and the map interface is cludgy.
I give this game a C grade, because I believe the developers could have done better and chose not to.