Review: Company of Heroes

Damn oppression, pushing us down and telling us what to do… Nazi… Teachers… wait, no I need to keep on topic… damn homework. Company of Heroes is the latest title to be fed out by Relic, the makers of classics Dawn of War and Homeworld – and like both those titles, this game is gorgeous and more unique than any other title out there. Relic are masters.

As the front cover and title display, Company of Heroes is a World War 2 game(all WW2 games are like that… Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, Band of Brothers. I’m not sure who started it, but they should either be thanked or shot.). You can fight as either the Allies or Axis in Skirmish mode, but the campaign is based from an allied perspective because to be honest, after D-Day the Axis campaign would be frustrating. Many of the campaign missions have excellent cutscenes similar to ones in Homeworld, and are generally good missions with primary, secondary and bonus objectives so you can do as little and as much as you feel inclined to.

Gameplay wise, it plays unlike any other RTS. Everything is too scale (rare), Tanks actually are immortal to machine gun fire (very rare), Tanks kill soldiers in one shot (extremely rare) and soldiers act as if they were FPS AI (unheard of). Seriously, each soldier in the battlefield will try to take cover and shoot in a similar fashion to AI in Call of Duty, which makes strategy completely different from normal RTS games. No longer do you just tell soldiers to kill each other, and watch as they stand and share fire like organised folk – Now they hide, swear, cry and generally wet themselves in battle unless you help them along with orders to take heavier cover or to “Retreat!”.

coh_05.jpg company_of_legends_6.jpg company_of_legends_9.jpg

The games influences from Dawn of War are obvious, or maybe I should say the engine similarities are obvious. Resources are gathered by taking and holding resource points which provide a constant flow of Manpower, Munitions or Oil. Engineers are your builder squads, and can construct Barracks, Supply Centres and eventually Tank Factories. Based on what I said before, you probably see that tanks dominate the battlefield. However there is a strong rock/paper/scissors formula to the game, so Infantry commanders can dispose of tanks with bazooka squads implaced in buildings for cover. Tanks are also very vulnerable to tank traps and mines. Airborn commander is the second options (Infantry first, Tank last) which allows the commander to call down paratrooper drops and air raids. While this commander may not have as much presence on the ground, his ability to drop swift judgment on an enemy is obvious when you play against or as one. The game follows a very strict advance-digin-holdground-repeat formula to victory, since whoever has the most ground is the most likely to hold it – the first minutes are crucial.

Graphics like all Relic Games are excellent, featuring good polycount, lots of effects and a fair texture resolution. However I don’t think the graphics are good enough to use in first person cutscenes (which Relic did) since characters, while animated nicely, are such a low resolution its laughable. Still it looks excellent in standard RTS view.

Sound is good and atmospheric. Explosive sounds add to the chaos your watching and really draw you in, however while I did find the excessive amount of swearing funny at first, its become irritating: whenever you order a unit to attack he swears, when he’s under attack he swears, when he runs he swears, etc. Soundtrack is traditional for overly dramatic World War 2 music, and fits the bill.

Without a doubt this game is very innovative, which is a little bit of a curse and a blessing. The whole feel of the game is unlike other RTS games which makes you interested and amazed, but also requires you to think harder and relearn the wheel – for some people it may be too easy to play Dawn of War which comes free with Company of Heroes.

How long you play the game really depends on if you enjoy the style, so I recommend downloading the demo first. If you find it fun, then congratulations you’ve found a great game that will entertain for months.

To Conclude, I will say that this game is definitely going to spawn a new style of RTS games for the future because of its unique approach to it. Buy it, and if you don’t like the new style you can play the old with Dawn of War.

Pro’s: Innovative, Atmospheric, Heavily Tactical, Free DoW, Interesting Multiplayer, Hard AI

Con’s: Maybe too unique, Too much swearing

Total Rating 88% – Great Game

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1 Comment

  1. Bob

     /  16 December 2006

    The constant use of the f word is too much and should have a filter or switch in game to turn it off. Having it blare from you speakers when you have children- or a wife that doesn’t like it keeps me from playing this. I tried the demo first and it didn’t have the constant bombardment of the f word.
    This sucks.


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