Company of Heroes 2 (PC)

Relic Entertainment’s second tour of duty is just as intense as the first one

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Relic Entertainment Company of Heroes 2 (PC)

Pros

  • Just as addictive and fun as the original game
  • New features such as TrueSight makes the battles more gripping

Cons

  • Feels more like a dedicated expansion pack than a sequel
  • Narrative is somewhat thin and relegated to the background.

Bottom Line

Company of Heroes 2 is a worthy sequel that delivers the same thrills as the original title. However, dedicated fans may find the overall experience a bit too familiar.

Would you buy this?

Developer Relic Entertainment has found time to take a break from the Warhammer 40,000 franchise to return to one of its popular intellectual properties from 2006, Company of Heroes. While the game features a narrative that focuses on a Russian soldier reliving key moments from the Eastern front of World War II, Company of Heroes 2 consists of squad-based gameplay that encourages the user to be highly strategic. Even though seven years has passed and several high profile RTS games have come out in that time, Company of Heroes 2 is a familiar experience that does not have any major changes to the core gameplay.

Military might

World War II games tend to put the player in the role of the allies, typically the US, though Company of Heroes 2 puts the player in control of the Russian or German squads. Most RTS games consist of the player collecting and managing resources on the field while building up armies and handing out attack orders. In Company of Heroes 2, gameplay is squad-based and the player focuses on moving the troops strategically around the battlefield, as the combat is carried out automatically and continuously by the soldiers. For that reason, cover plays an important role in keeping your troops alive, with piles of sandbags and destroyed buildings providing shelter from the onslaught by enemy troops.

The missions get progressively more difficult as the war drags on, so the player is tasked with building up the base to gain perks such as more powerful units. In addition to infantry, these are grenadiers that can help disperse enemy platoons and engineers that can trap unsuspecting enemies by planting mines. Considering how harsh the battlefield is, compounded by the tough winter and the penalty of death on retreat, it is vehicles such as tanks and armoured cars that can help turn the tides of battle. To earn them, the player has to acquire the required resources to gain access to these much needed war machines.

A familiar experience

The resource gathering mechanic in Company of Heroes 2 should be familiar to FPS gamers, as it works on the same concept as capture-the-flag. By holding certain points on the map, resources are earned to buy buildings and upgrades. The opposition is also vying for access to these control points, so the strategy is in the player choosing the right mix of vehicles and units to ensure the safety of the waypoint, while also pushing forward to dominate more of the battlefield. The winter setting really comes into effect during gameplay, as troops can succumb to the cold unless they are kept active or hidden behind shelter. Blizzards occasionally appear during missions, though it happens infrequently enough not to affect skirmishes.

The game comes with 14 single player missions, with each one taking a sizeable chunk of time to complete. For those who want to take the action online, Company of Heroes 2 comes with a robust multiplayer mode. If there's a shortcoming with the game, it's that it's not a major leap over its predecessor and feels more like an expansion pack. Considering the long gap between the two games, that may come as a disappointment to those who may have been expecting an evolutionary shift. The new Essence Engine 3.0 used to power the game comes with interesting features, such as TrueSight, a fog of war that limits you to only seeing what your units see. However, nifty additions such as this are few, resulting in a familiar Company of Heroes experience, which in itself is not such a bad thing.

New Zealand price: $98 (Source: EB Games)

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