Developer Relic Entertainment managed to hit on all cylinders with Company of Heroes. Blending an amazing graphical engine with fast-paced, strategy-laden game play Company of Heroes instantly became one of the best real-time strategy games ever to be released for the PC. Even from the players perspective above the battlefield, Company of Heroes offers a visceral look at World War 2 in a manner that few other games in the crowded genre have been able to put together.
RTS fans have come to expect a certain level of detail with the factions that they’ll be controlling in any given game and it is in this that Company of Heroes does not disappoint. Though you’ll only be capable of controlling two factions (Allied and Axis) which are more closely linked to two countries (The United States and Germany), each side has an ample amount of choices for units to deploy. As with most RTS games, each faction begins with a unit that is capable of building, repairing and to a limited extent the enemy. The Allied and Axis factions generally share the same basic units albeit with different names. Builders, Basic Attack Team, Heavy Attack Team, Machinegun Team, etc. are all shared amongst the two sides. The sides truly begin to see differences once vehicles and heavy armor come into play. World War 2 history puts the Germans firmly in the position of having the best available armor. As such the Axis side has the Stug IV, StuH 42, Panzer IV, Panther and Tiger tanks at its disposable, all of which are known to be more capable than the Allied Sherman tanks. The allies however, are not without its own heavy tanks in the M26 Pershing. While the Axis has the advantage in terms of armor, the Allied infantry has the capability of ambushing and destroying any tank or piece of armor on the battlefield. The end result is a number of battles that are directly influenced by tactical maneuvers, rather than just massing units.
Resources are not collected as they would be in other games, instead players must capture different points on the map in order to gain manpower, fuel, and munitions. This eliminates the grind in collecting ore or minerals and emphasizing a more realistic tone for the game. It also means that a player must plan accordingly as these captured points can be taken back and thrown into favor for the opposing player. Supplies also work in the thought of a supply line, meaning if one territory you have in control does not touch the rest of your territories, you do not receive the supplies from that point. Many a times a player has lost a vital point which literally cut their supply line in half.
Building defenses and planning raids is among some of the most rewarding parts of the game. Captured points can be reinforced with observation points so enemies can’t simply walk up and grab the point from you. Sandbags, trollops, and the usual items can be used as defenses but the game’s environment lends itself to the creative. Abandoned churches, farmhouses, and anything else you can fit a squad into can be taken over and made into a fortified position. Planting a sniper in the heart of enemy territory can prove to be an unsettling experience for the unsuspecting player. These buildings can be upgraded to forward headquarters where you’ll be able to deploy troops.
Company of Heroes provides one of the most rewarding experiences in gaming today. Whether you’re sending a fleet of tanks through a concrete wall into the enemy base or setting up an ambush with seized enemy weapons for a convoy, there’s no denying the fun in the game. Utilizing one of the most beautiful graphical engines ever seen in gaming, the game virtually comes to life from the very opening of the first mission to the last shot fired at the end of the campaign. An excellent matching system makes it so novices can get online and not be scared away after being routed from their first experience. Overall 10/10