Company of Heroes 2- Review
Follow Platform: PC
Genre: RTS
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Relic
Release date: 6/25/2013

Company of Heroes 2- Review

Site Score
9.0
Good: immersive and strategically in depth
Bad: All the systems and mechanics at play can be overwhelming
User Score
10.0
(1 votes)
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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)

When the original Company of Heroes released in 2006 it was a breath of fresh air for the Real Time Strategy (RTS) genre. Now Relic and their new publisher Sega hope that the sequel will push the genre forward again as they move into the cold and harsh Eastern front of WWII.

Story

Company of Heroes put gamers into the boots of American soldiers as they stormed the Omaha beach during the Normandy landings on D-Day. The Opposing Fronts expansion put you in the boots of British soldiers as they fight to liberate the city of Caen in France, and the boots of German soldiers during Operation Market Garden.

Company of Heroes 2 takes you out of the western fight that many are familiar with and instead follows the stories of Russian soldiers as they fight to survive the cold winters of Russia, Order 227, and the German offensive that threatens them. The tale is told through flashbacks of┬áLev Abramovich Isakovich a lieutenant in the Russian army as his old commanding officer interrogates him. The war on the eastern front of WWII was bleak and cold in more ways than one with the Russian people determined to push back the German advances at any cost. With Isakovich unsure of whether what happened in the war was just, and coming to terms with seeing so many people die to the German army, the harsh winters, and their fellow Russian soldiers. Isakovich was an actual Russian lieutenant during the war and you’re treated to snippets from his journal as each individual mission loads.
28122CompanyofHeroes2_E32013_UnstableFootingThe story is told through cutscenes shown in between missions, cutscenes mid-mission, along with some well done Voice Over that gives you objectives from your commanding officer. The cutscenes from past Company of Heroes games were always done with in-game graphics in real time, which meant if you didn’t have a computer powerful enough to run it at its best the cutscenes weren’t great graphically. Luckily this time all the in-game cutscenes have been pre-rendered so even if you don’t have the most powerful PC the cutscenes will still be breathtaking. The loading screens between missions are relatively short but luckily Relic makes use of it by giving you some real world information about the actual battle you’re about to play,

Graphics

When Company of Heroes first launched back in 2006 the game looked absolutely gorgeous and was far and away the most stunning RTS game at the time. It’s 2013 and Relic has once again raised the bar, not only does the game look leaps and bounds better than its predecessor but Relic has incorporated real time snow and weather into its game. Still its the little touches to the game that makes it as beautiful as it does the cracks in the ice as a tank trudges across, or the indentation of the snow as your troops make their way across an empty field.

The world will deform because of the drag out battles that will happen over the course of the game, as you blow parts of buildings away with a tank. Cover for your troops will realistically blow apart thanks to a grenade thrown, and the ground will fracture and indent with every explosion and shot as you battle in the campaign and multiplayer. While the game doesn’t give me pause quite like the original did as I had to come to terms during the storming of Normandy that this was actual gameplay, it’s still easily one of the best looking games out.

28120CompanyofHeroes2_E32013_RainofDeathThough if you want all the bells and whistles turned on to make the game look as good as it could its going to push your PC

Sound

Relic is nothing if not obsessive about making sure that everything sounds authentic in the game, from the sound of bullets showering a strewn together fortification to the sound of a tanks whirling treads in the numbing snow. The voices coming from the actors in the games cutscenes sound equally as authentic as the rockets being fired at your unbeknownst enemies. With everything going in the battles it can get quite chaotic, which I assume is how it must have been, though I found myself having to turn the sound effects volume down every once in awhile as I got lost in the cacophony of everything.

The music deserves its own mention, though it can sometimes get drowned out with everything that goes on in the game the moment you hear it peeking out during the quiet lulls of fighting its intoxicating and fits the atmosphere beautifully. I only wish that there were more moments in the game that give you the chance to listen to it, without then getting distracted by the need to blow someones tank up.

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Gameplay

Since Company of Heroes released in 2006 we’ve seen the resurgence of the RTS genre with many of the classic franchises returning though they were more akin to refinements of the genre than pushing it forward. Company of Heroes 2 continues the path that Relic has come to define and refine the RTS genre as, building upon the CoH expansion’s and Dawn of War series. Tactical positioning is key to your units survival and cover continues to play a key role in how skirmishes play out on the battlefield. Throwing a wrench into a players strategies are the new weather mechanics, on certain maps in multiplayer snow and the cold will affect the game. Should a snowstorm hit your infantry units could very well freeze to death should you leave them exposed to the weather, huddle them around a fire or inside a building to protect them from the harsh elements to wait out the storm, or take advantage of it to attack your opponent with a surgical strike.

The fog of war mechanic has been overhauled, this time around they’ve implemented the truesight mechanic. Instead of having a god like view of the battlefield in a radius around your infantry you’ll have to deal with what your units can physically see. If there is a wall between your units and the enemy you won’t be able to see over it, woods obstructing your view and buildings blocking your line of sight. It makes for a more immersive experience and leads to a lot of interesting and fun gameplay moments. You’ll have to be wary of the new environments thanks to the eastern warfront, not everything is solid ground and should you find yourself driving your tank trying to chase down an infantry squad over a frozen lake you could find yourself with a tank at the bottom, thanks to a well placed grenade or mortar strike.
Another new addition is the ability to vault over cover, while it is a welcome addition I never found it useful requiring another surgical click on the battlefield taking time away from things I should be more focused upon. Instead I found myself blowing cover up instead of vaulting it, maybe thats why I continue to lose in multiplayer.

28123CompanyofHeroes2_E32013_WinterStandoff

Conclusion

The new additions to Company of Heroes 2 helps to create a fantastically immersive experience and the additions create intense moments in multiplayer as you struggle to out think your opponent as you battle both him and the map. The implementation of Twitch makes it easier to broadcast games its just a shame that the only way to view ongoing streams is to minimize the game and launch a browser. The stat tracking and profiles for multiplayer are a welcome addition as well, allowing players to customize the looks of certain units with different skins to set apart their army in multiplayer is sure to please some. The Theater of War mode is sure to give the game replayability for single-player gamers or those looking for a fun co-op mode, thanks to the ability for Relic to add in new co-op or single player missions.

If you enjoyed Company of Heroes then this is a no brainer as Relic is the only one capable of creating a game as polished and overwhelming as they are. If you are a fan of RTS games in general Company of Heroes 2 has a ton of content to sink your teeth into and enjoy. If you aren’t familiar with the RTS genre all the systems and management in the game could very well overwhelm you.

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Company of Heroes 2- Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
Craig Lynn
Craig Lynn


Craig spends most of his time playing Persona games to a ridiculous degree.

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