Written by  :  Rambutaan (446)
Written on  :  Apr 09, 2007
Rating  :  4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars

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Company of Heroes is no RTS Relic

The Good

The graphics in Company of Heroes are cutting edge for the Real-Time Strategy genre and it's so good that Relic use it for their in-game cutscenes with even up-close-and-personal shots of the game's protagonists. Along with fitting era music by acclaimed game composer Jeremy Soule and the yells and cursing of the troops while in firefights, the game is a truly immersive WWII experience and is heavily reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers.

The gameplay in Company of Heroes is similar to most RTSes except for a few key differences. Firstly you do not harvest resources, instead you gain them by capturing and controlling resource sectors across the map. An open supply route back to your HQ is crucial in this since if any of your sectors get cut off then it will no longer contribute any resources. Secondly the game is more tactical and takes into account line of fire. Sometimes units will miss due to terrain. Sometimes a tank shell will just deflect off armour (and you are rewarded in this game for targeting the rear or sides of tanks where just like in real-life, the armour is generally weakest). Taking advantage of terrain and also learning how to use your troops and tanks effectively will be decisive in your ability to secure a victory.

You are also given the ability to follow down three skill trees which will offer you special abilities like artillery strikes and bombing runs, quite similar to the system employed in Command and Conquer Generals. You gain these abilities by earning experience points on the battlefield, either through killing enemies or building new structures.

Multiplayer is good fun too and gives you an opportunity to play with your friends as an allied company or against them. I was unable to test on Relic Online however, but that's discussed in "The Bad" section.

The Bad

Even though the graphics are great in Company of Heroes this means lower end systems may suffer in performance (so a mid to high-end system is recommended!). Framerates were passable on my machine except whenever a Tiger tank was on the screen, the framerate would plummet to single digits (have no idea why that is the case, but there you go).

As mentioned, multiplayer is a blast but unfortunately I was unable to play online and had to resort to playing over a LAN with friends. This is because it seems the pings Australians get on Relic Online's servers are so high that they don't allow players to connect if they exceed a certain threshold. This problem may be rectified in the future but at the time of this review this is a major hindrance to Australians as there'd only those with fast connections could possibly play (and I have a 1.5Mb connection).

The Bottom Line

Company of Heroes shows the world that even though there are speculations that the RTS genre is dying, it's not, it's just evolving into something new and the proof lies in this game. With an immersive 16-mission single player campaign (that rewards you for getting bonus objectives) and lots of fun to be had on multiplayer, this game offers good replayability and is a must have for WWII fans. It's a bit like Day of Defeat: The RTS.