Aside from the addition of the Chaos faction, multiplayer gameplay is largely unchanged in Chaos Rising; just like the original, it's fast-paced and compelling. Its few additions include a free-for-all game type, several new maps adapted from the campaign, and two new heroes for the Last Stand cooperative survival mode: the Tyranid Hive Tyrant and the Chaos Sorcerer. Happily, Dawn of War II and Chaos Rising owners can play both Last Stand and traditional multiplayer matches together, but you'll be restricted to playing the sides that come with your game, so if you have only Dawn of War II, you can play as one of the original four sides (and the original three heroes in Last Stand), while if you own only Chaos Rising, you have no choice but to play Chaos (and either Hive Tyrant or Chaos Sorcerer in Last Stand). Therefore, even though Chaos Rising is a stand-alone expansion, you'll probably be tempted into buying both games, one way or another, in order to take full advantage of multiplayer. One disappointment is that Last Stand is still limited to one map. However, the new heroes definitely revitalize Last Stand gameplay by introducing new strategies and spells, like the Hive Tyrant's level 1 ability to summon three Genestalker allies and the Chaos Sorcerer's delightful spell that clones an enemy unit, even an enemy hero, to fight for you.
The Great Unclean One leaves pestilence and destruction in his wake.
The graphics, sound effects, and music live up to the high standard set by Dawn of War II and are characterized by a close attention to detail. From the disgusting spine protruding from the Great Unclean One to the barbed-wire-covered fortifications in the fully destructible environments, Chaos Rising doesn't skimp on the visuals. Meanwhile, the voice acting is a favorite in the sound department, creating a unique sound and feel for each of your party members as well as the rumbling, ominous voices of the Chaos forces. A cacophony of weapon fire and explosions tend to dominate the soundscape, but even they can have a pleasing sound when it means that your units are slaughtering the enemy en masse. Finally, the music does a nice job of accompanying the action and heightening drama, but you'll be hard-pressed to remember it once you've exited the game.
One frustration that Chaos Rising inherits from DOWII is Games for Windows Live. Not only does it take ages to set up, but Games for Windows Live also makes talking to your online friends and inviting them to multiplayer games far more complicated than it ought to be, especially since the game also uses Steam. In addition to creating a velvet rope between you and your friends, Games for Windows Live falls short on its random matchmaking function, often setting you up with players who, if their latency is any indication, are playing on the dark side of the moon.
The Force Commander scours the interior of a derelict Space Hulk in search of Geneseeds.
Chaos Rising is just about everything you'd expect from a Dawn of War expansion, boasting terrific gameplay, visuals, and effects, and adding a great new campaign, a well-developed new faction, and new war gear, heroes, and multiplayer options. Given the shorter campaign, the $30 price tag may seem a bit high; however, Chaos Rising's replay value more than justifies the cost. Remember: As long as the enemies of the emperor still draw breath, there can be no peace.