Company of Heroes (PC)

2011-06-09 18:57:07

Real Time Strategy, a artform that can only really do well on the PC though many have tried to execute it on the console over the years. Fact is that there were few smash hit RTS games back in the day, Dune 2, Command and Conquer series, and the *craft series on the other side. Seemed that Blizzard and Westwood studios were the only real heavyweights in this arena. Their games have been some of the only titles that have adorned the shelves of most game stores.

Them sometime around mid 2000's we end up with some up and comers with some interesting approaches on the old art form. Today I finally put a finishing mark on Company of Heroes. a game that originated in 2006 that can still put a hurting on a PC from the current era. it runs on 1080p full settings on my PC with only moderate challenge. It is amazingly worth it to see the world in detail never seen in other RTS games.

Company of Heroes approaches WWII in the kind of way you see in other titles like Brothers in Arms, or the Band of Brothers TV series by HBO. it tells a soldiers tale, and it tells it amazingly well. The original release which is what I will be touching on today focuses on D-Day and the events directly after through to the liberation of Normandy. The first mission has you storming Omaha beach, being gunned down by MG's from the beachhead, trying to save as many soldiers as you can to do the big push once the wire is broken through. The game is a squad based RTS, in that you command multiple groups of soldiers that are specialized, infantry and airborne soldiers come in packs of 6, machine gunners and mortar teams are teams of 3, etc. The soldiers when moved will make some decisions on their own, such as if they are under fire they will find the closest possible cover and take cover behind it, if that cover is wooden, you might find the MG's firing at you chipping away at the cover until it shatters. 

Material physics play a large part in some of the strategies you can employ, you can blow up bridges, bust holes in concrete barricades with rockets/tanks, tear down entire buildings if your enemy is using them to hole up, or use them yourself as ambush points for your MG squads and snipers to hide inside. The game is some of the most visceral and realistic RTS I've encountered, and I play a lot of RTS games. That said there is a bit of a learning curve, but the controls more than accomodate for what is demanded of you. Facing artillery, machine gun groups, and tanks is vital as artillery and MG teams have a cone of fire that they can fire within, whereas Tanks the armor is on the front of the tank so no matter which direction you want your tank going you want to make sure the front end of the tank is facing the enemies launching shells at you. 

Unlike the *craft and C&C series games Relic's take on these kinds of games have you taking over command points. there are 3 kinds for CoH, Command(personnel), Ammo(weapons), and Fuel(vehicles) if you need people or need to have something put together with a persons hands, you expend command points, for most upgrades or special abilities you burn ammo, and for building tanks and armored cars you need fuel points.The system makes a lot of sense and has you playing all over the board seeking out points to control and setting up forward operating bases to extend your influence.

I played on the most difficult skill level and the game was challenging and fun, I've even played some of the multiplayer and compared to other titles where games would be decidable within 10 minutes Company of Heroes multiplayer can sometimes feel like a true epic war is being waged, just when someone looks like a solid victor, a well timed offensive can completely reverse the course of things.

I highly recommend this game to RTS enthusiasts looking for something more than build army kill enemy base type gameplay, especially those fond of the WWII setting and the realism offered in this title.

Reason Result
Start 10
Amazing level of detail, able to zoom down to the soldier level +5
The soldier banter during battle sounds truly inspired and enhances the state of realism +5
Some of the soldier banter gets tiresome for long sessions so a little more variety would've been best.  -2
Physics model has you blowing huge chunks of earth out with artillery, blowing down buildings and crushing fences with your weapons of war, and the damage remains behind. +3
Final 21/10

This is one of the best RTS's I've ever played and I would recommend it to anyone even remotely interested in RTS. It will not disappoint. it's only 29.95 on steam. give it a spin today!