Dawn of War only features two multiplayer modes, Victory Point and Annihilation. In Victory Point games, the player must control specific control points to slowly take their enemies counter down to zero. Annihilation is more traditional, as you are tasked with simply destroying the opposing players units and base. Unfortunately, Relic only shipped Dawn of War II with 7 multiplayer maps, which isnít much especially when you consider that 3 of these limit the number of players to two, while the other 4 are based around 6. Map design seems to be based more on the single player game than on what makes for a good multiplayer map, although they are still pretty good. We wouldíve liked to see some more variety in the terrain types however, as right now you are limited to jungle, desert, and, industrial.
The other feature of multiplayer is the co-op functionality built into the campaign mode. Before starting or resuming a campaign, you can invite a friend to join you through Games for Windows Live. Your compatriot will control 2 squads while you remain in control of your Force Commander and 1 additional squad of your choosing. This leads us to another complaint in that you are unable to give your friend control of your Commander, forcing you to use him regardless of whether you want to or not. It would be nice to just control the ranged units such as your heavy weapons and tactical squad, without having to give hosting duties over to another person. Of course, that person would require your save game file for you to play it that way anyway, so it hardly matters who is hosting. Overall though, co-op makes playing the game more engrossing, as slaughtering Orks en masse is always more fun when you have your best buddy at your side.
One final note on multiplayer; yes, Dawn of War II uses Games for Windows Live 2.0 extensively. Relic even has the required amount of Live achievements you can earn for playing the game. Live 2.0 for the most part is integrated perfectly into Dawn of War II and seems to have worked out the bugs the previous version was known for. Voice chat worked great and was wonderfully clear during our game sessions. The only real issue we ran into is the habit of Live to disagree with network configurations that may be somewhat uncommon. For instance, I use a Linksys WRT54GL running DD-WRT in bridging mode to connect to my router, and every once awhile attempts to invite a friend would invoke a NAT translation error. It seemed to fix itself however, as repeated attempts to join would eventually end in success. Still, I havenít seen any NAT issues when attempting to directly connect with other games, as uPNP opened the necessary ports as we requested it. All in all though, we are pretty pleased with how Live works now and it has come a long way from the mess it was when it was first released.