Ultimate Apocalypse – The Hunt Begins (A Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War Mod)
Ultimate Apocalypse Mod team
My front lines were holding against the undulating masses of grotesque aliens that were trying to overwhelm me with their sheer numbers. I was the Imperial Guard, representing the un-fancy legions of shock troops that constituted the main bulwark between the Imperium of Man and the numerous hostile threats which were continuously encroaching in on our fair quadrant of space.
My ally on this occasion was playing as the smaller, although more specialized (and frankly more individually powerful) Space Marines, uber-amped up super-soldiers who wore power armor and carried heavy weapons. Where the Space Marines were seen as the more surgical Sword of the Imperium, my faction, the Imperial Guard, was known as the Hammer of the Emperor, bludgeoning our common enemies with our billions-strong divisions, and employing a combination of advanced tanks and air power while either attacking or defending planets.
The only problem was that the enemies closest to me on the map were the Tyranids, which resembled a cross between the slimy monstrosities from the Alien franchise and the bug-like creatures from Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. Speaking of which, the battle at hand closely resembled some of the battles from the 1997 film of the same name; ordinary soldiers with minimal armor arms, going up against a multitudinous array of alien foes.
The Tyranids employed frontline creatures with multiple scythe-like arms which were literally slicing and dicing my boys up front. To get an idea of the disparity between our forces, the Imperial Guard begins each game with basic Conscripts, which are essentially convenience store clerks, farmers, and the like, who are forced into compulsory service, and have been tossed a skimpy flack vest and a puny lasgun. The latter looks like it dispenses a thin, red strand of party string every time that it fires.
Of course, as you build your base up and research new technologies you can gain access to more powerful units such as the formidable Special Operations troops of the Imperium, the Kasrkins, or the IG’s renowned Leman Russ Battle Tanks. Even though I had these advanced units and many more, I was still having a tough go of it against the ever-adapting swarms of Tyranids. They finally began to break down my frontal vanguard and were pushing me back toward my main base.
Suddenly, my ally relayed to me that he’d been creating some Terminator squads. These were the elite of the elite of the Space Marines; genetically tampered-with men donning massive exoskeletons of Dreadnought armor, carrying spirit-withering assault cannons and heavy flamers. They were so badass that each of them also had a personal teleporter as well. When his numbers were sufficiently bulked up, these brazen behemoths sallied forth onto the battlefield, suddenly disappearing in front of the enemy and immediately re-materializing at the Tyranid’s main base, right next to its primary structure, the Hive Mind. To get an idea of what this structure looks like, just imagine a swollen tick which is leaking clouds of pestilence and bodily fluids.
The Terminators fought long and hard against the aliens, but eventually they called back their fast moving forces from the frontlines. They shifted the bulk of their attack from me to the sudden Space Marine threat. Even for the nigh indomitable battle-hardened Terminator squads, the Tyranid onslaught was too much to resist, and the brave men were finally overcome.
But what the aliens were soon to discover was that the base assault was just a sacrificial ruse. My ally told me to “sit back and watch the fireworks” and that’s exactly what I did. Soon, I heard a humming sound which increased in volume as if something big were warming up. As the Tyranid swarms had all massed around their base structures in order to defend them against the valiant Terminators, a gigantic beam sliced through the heavens and immolated everything within its expansive diameter. The aliens and the base’s surrounding structures, including their main Hive Mind complex, immediately disintegrated.
I jumped out of my chair, cheering at my ally’s use of the Space Marine’s super weapons, an Orbital Strike, cast down from a supporting satellite. We rejoiced at the demise of the Tyranids, but it was short-lived. We looked on as he was suddenly set upon by legions of the undead machines race known as the Necrons, our other enemy. These creatures had long ago been tricked by a space deity into leaving behind their physical forms for immortal bodies made of living metal. My ally’s temporarily depleted forces were easy prey for these unstoppable juggernauts, and the few Necron enemies that were taken down, patched themselves back together and rose again to fight, an ability native to their regenerative machine-bodies.
This was one of the more recent battles that I experienced while playing the newest version of the Ultimate Apocalypse mod for Relic’s classic science fiction RTS, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War. And if it’s any indication, epic is an understatement for the way that a typical game can play out. The UA’s latest iteration not only allows you to play as WH 40k’s (and its 3 DLC’s) 9 main factions; The Imperial Guard, Space Marines, Chaos Space Marines, Eldar, Dark Eldar, Sisters of Battle, Tau Empire, Necron, and the Orks, but also offers 3 new ones which they created from scratch; the Tyranids, the Inquisition, and the Daemons. This brings the grand total to 12 completely unique races to choose from!
What’s great about what the Ultimate Apocalypse Mod team has done with the base game and its DLCs, is not only offer PC gamers much larger battles and the ability to field more units than ever before, but has also jam-packed the mod with additional types of units. This means that each faction has a vastly expanded roster of units to choose from, and even a few new structures. In addition to this, many of the older unit and structures models have been reworked, since the game is beginning to look a little more dated. It’s still not a bad looking game by any means, but those who are diehard about having destructible environments may feel a little let down.
The best part is that they’ve also added in superweapons, Relic Units, and Titans; gigantic super-units which can turn the tide of any war. You can also level up leader units, which can in turn provide a morale boost to your troops. Yes, morale is also a factor in the game, and is especially important when playing my favorite faction, the Imperial Guard, since nothing yells “I’m begging for death—please take me out of my misery now” more than an extra out of the film Clerks holding a puny lasgun and wearing a paper mache flak vest. Yes, they tend to run out of morale rather quickly.
Ultimate Apocalypse – The Hunt Begins, is one of the best RTS games I’ve ever played on a gaming PC; most certainly the greatest of any based in a science fiction setting. It blows doors on the (for me at least) too colorful and cartoonish Starcraft series, and features a grim, dark look, which is more befitting of an epic struggle for life and death in a far future setting. Keep in mind that you do need not only the base game, but also all 3 DLCs in order to download and play the mod.
- 12 playable factions-all unique!
- Massive battles!
- Lots of deaths-with the corpses staying on the battlefield!
- Super weapons!
Even though the games engine is showing its wear, it still looks good and can even be played on laptop gaming rigs. However, since the battles can get truly gargantuan, even mid-level gaming PCs can slow down a little bit. So, in order to keep that framerate smooth as you decimate your dastardly foes, it is suggested that you play on a PC that is able to handle all of those bodies on the screen all at once, such as:
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