DAWN OF WAR
Bottomline: A fantastic game that is well worth your money
How did they adapt the classic table-top game of Warhammer into a Real-Time Strategy genre? I have no clue, but damn, they did it well.
To start with, the game looks great. Really great. With a fully rotatable/pitchable camera you can capture the gory battles from all angles. Dynamic lighting makes every gunshot that little bit more intense and the texture resolution can be set to extremely high sizes. Add it all together and you get a sweet looking game.
Now, to the previously mentioned gory battles. They are awesome. One of the first buildings you will construct would undoubtedly be a barracks, out of which you can train your race's light infantry and heavy infantry. In the case of the Space Marines, those are the Marine Squads and Terminator Squads. Each squad can be trained differently. Train some with missile launchers for anti-tank works and others with sniper rifles. When two armies collide, it is a collision of blinding bright lights, immense explosions, guts and blood flying. It is war captured brilliantly.
The five races - Space Marines, Orks, Chaos, Eldar and with the Winter Assault expansion, the Imperial Guard are all very different, and you must aquire tactics for each should you wish to win. A hard task for the creators of the game, having such different races, would be keeping the game balanced, but after a few patches they managed it very well, ensuring high-quality gameplay.
The objective in the game is much like any of its genre. Build and destroy. Create a base, capture strategic points throughout the map, create an army, destroy the enemy, but it still seems fresh and different from other games. This is a fantastic accomplishment, and one that game developers should really learn.
And that leads me nicely onto Multiplayer.
While the online multiplayer is very good, you cannot beat DoW for LAN multiplayer. Up to 8 people in a game, fighting on a huge variety of maps creates one fantastic playing experience. Defend your base on seven different fronts. Create alliances. Destroy Alliances. Exciting stuff. A proper large-scale 8 man game can take hours!
Finally, the sounds and soundtrack, to quote the great Jack Black from High Fidelity "kick fucking ass."