"Coming back to the Company"
The first Company of Heroes was truly a new classic. Seven years ago, for those of us willing to take a risk on a WWII RTS (whether we were history buffs or just gamers hungry for a good strategy game), we found a very solid working gem. Enter Company of Heroes 2, Relic's follow-up to the 2006 predecessor.
To be honest, those who have played the first CoH will find that there isn’t much to say about its sequel. If you like the first, you’ll like the second (probably). There are some improvements here (which I will get to later) but CoH2 feels like very familiar territory. This will be a sigh of relief for some fans, and it'll make others wonder what an even more updated CoH game would be like.
The setting of Company of Heroes 2 puts us at the Eastern Front, with soviets fighting in brutal weather and poor conditions to hold back the onslaught of the invading axis alliance. That means weather will play a huge part in how you fight, and how you survive, layered into that good old CoH strategy we know so well.
So, if you aren’t a CoH fan, just what is that strategy and action like? It is mostly an RTS that consists of hitting major waypoints, taking more ground, and going to the next goal. Some missions will have you grossly under-supplied and at a huge disadvantage, but it all comes down to being quick on your feet and getting resources when you need them and mixing that in with the right placement of troops. This is old ground for an RTS to cover, but Company of Heroes 2 does it all with a great historical flare that feels right to make it stand out in the sea of RTS games in existence.
Aside from weather, one of the few new features of CoH2 is the TrueSight mechanic. This makes line of a sight on the map much more "realistic". This means smoke, walls (fully destructible), and other such obstacles will enable you to set up ambushes and block your from enemy sight. All in all, it’s a natural and expected update to a new gen RTS, so I am not sure how much the devs should be bragging about it.
Still, the detail put into the maps and into each unit of Company of Heroes 2 is impeccable. There are a huge amount of detail put into the units and the animation of each vehicle and soldier. Everything flows perfectly and really makes things exciting graphically. Great voice-over and a rich attention to the attitude and moods of each campaign is what make CoH2 stand high. For the most part.
While Company of Heroes 2 seems to retread the same ground, as mentioned before, this is a huge double-edged sword. A lot of CoH2 criticsm could stem from the fact that really not much has changed all these years later. Other problems longtime fans may have are really based on pure opinion: if you like the campaigns, if you like the weather systems (yes, snowstorms can get annoying), and how much you enjoy the portrayal of the characters and environment overall. Still, at its heart, CoH2 is CoH1, so for those seeking some sort of apex of RTS gaming, you won’t find it here, but Company of Heroes 2 is a damn fine RTS.
Co-op modes give you a chance to compete on leaderboards. However, while many of the co-op challenges here are fun, they can feel very arcade-like. CoH2 lacks the huge diverse meta-world some smaller (yet not as good) RTS games have. That being said, turning CoH2 into a meta-world online game might kill it for the fans. Regardless, it’d be nice to see the best of both worlds here.
At the end of the day, I can safely say I’ve been happy with the results as both an RTS fan and a fan of WWII history. Sure, Company of Heroes 2 won’t capture the real way the Soviets fought for their front, but this is a game, so it’s good just to have that feeling right, even if sometimes it just comes down to cranking out as many troops as possible.
GameDynamo's Score for Company of Heroes 2 (PC)
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