It's a fun, flashy and brutal strategy, but not really all that great. Worth playing for a few missions tough...
Meat_Bag wrote this review on .
Actually, I don't say that... but never mind. Let's just stick to the game.
So, as you probably guessed, this is a WW2 real time strategy. And in 3D. And that pretty much sums it all. For those 3 gamers who never played WW2 strategy before, it's about leading a bunch of American soldiers in their fight against the Germans. From the beaches of Normandy to... don't really know, I never finished the campaign. But let's just say, for the sake of argument, to the very end of the war. The thing that sets this game apart from all the other countless WW2 games is it's brutal and bloody depiction of the war. From the very first intro movie to the game itself, you are bombarded with the cinematic presentation of carnage known as the D-Day. It relies heavily on movies such as "Saving Private Ryan" and "Band Of Brothers" TV series, at least as far as the atmosphere is concerned. Which is a good thing. After all, WW2 wasn't a heroic, epic battle between good and evil. It was a vicious, bloody massacre. And the amount of blood you'll see in this game makes "Saving Private Ryan" look like a Saturday morning cartoon.
Of course, stunningly beautiful visuals and fully destructible environments only add to the experience. Every tree, every house, every pillbox can be destroyed. Explosions look particularly realistic, so much you'll probably want to duck for cover the first time you see it. Seriously, blow up a house with a satchel charge, and you'll just wait for another chance to do it again... It's the coolest thing that ever happened to strategy games. Well, except for World In Conflict, but more on that later. Your soldiers are also superbly animated, wether they're running, shooting, or dying a horrible death. It's simply amazing! Not to mention all the cursing and profanities they utter as soon as the going gets tough. Again, WW2 wasn't nice... keep that in mind.
OK, so far I've been praising the game more then anyone. So what's the problem? Well, the problems are, unfortunately, plentiful. The graphics are stunning, the sound is nearly perfect, the amount of carnage is top notch. And there is only one campaign for you to enjoy. Wait, WHAT?! In this day and age, where two separate campaigns are pretty much standard in every self-respecting strategy, not to mention all those games with at least three different campaigns on it's menu. Company Of Heroes has THE NERVE to offer us only one campaign. That's simply insulting... OK, you can play as Germans in skirmish mode, but that doesn't help much. Yes, playing as a German commander works and feels completely different, but that only makes me regret not having a separate German campaign even more.
But it would be unfair to say that it's all bad in Company Of Heroes, except for it's flashy presentation. The gameplay itself is pretty good, actually. At least for the most parts. It's all based on leading small squads of infantry, as well as some specialized types of units, such as tanks, snipers, machine gun crews, etc. You will have to use cover wisely in order to protect your men, and take all sorts of details into consideration, such as artillery support, or even the way your tanks are facing. For example, ordering your tanks to face the enemy troops frontally, where their armor is thickest, severely boosts their protection from AT guns and tank destroyers. You will have to experiment with all kinds of tactics in order to break the German defenses, and emerge victorious. And that's really cool, since you usually have to make due with what units you have available, instead of depending on some magical shop that's crapping out tanks right on the battlefield... Oh no, wait... you totally DO have to depend on them.
You see, for the first few missions, you have to think carefully, experiment with different tactics, and rely on a few reinforcements the game lets you have from time to time. You capture strategic points in order to magically scrap some resources, but that's not really important during the first few (great) missions. It's there, but you're not concerned with it, since the resources play only a minimal role back then. But very soon, an exciting tactical combat turns into a tedious resource harvest and base building, plagued by the occasional ill-concieved enemy attack. Everything's there. From the magical tank factory, to the upgrade shop, to the magical healing shrine. Think of the worst, most disguistingly overused cliches in any RTS game ever released since the first Red Alert title. They're all there. Of course, the unlimited amount of enemy troops and firepower are there to annoy you. Just so you know. I mean, the first few missions were great, I really don't see why they had to mess up something that worked perfectly fine by turning it into a tedious RTS stereotype. That's about when I gave up on the game entirely. The enemy A.I. isn't all that brilliant either. It's less obvious during the first few missions, when they're mostly in a defensive positions. But as soon as they start to attack, it becomes clear they're not really any smarter then retarded sea sponges. Sure, they'll occasionally try to exploit a weakness in your defenses, but that's about as smart as they get. The rest of their tactics consists mostly of running straight at your fortified defensive lines in order to get butchered. Or sending 2 or 3 engineers with flamethrowers to attack your entire well-fortified battalion in a desperate suicide attack. That's not challenging. That's just annoying. Also, it's baffling just how ineffective your tanks and armored cars are against enemy mortar teams, or other infantry units, even if they're not behind any cover.
There is one big problem plagueing the entire game, and it's more then worthy of mentioning. The game is entirely 3D of course, and as such it requires a lot of messing with the camera. Which requires a pause, in order to mount any successful tactical response to the situation you're in. Which is too bad. Altou this game HAS a pause key you can use in order to issue orders to your units, it's located in the worst place possible on your keyboard. And no, you can't change it. You're stuck with the default (retarded) key configuration all the way.
All in all, it's a fun game for a while. Realism is not really Company Of Heroes' greater quality, but the first few missions are kind of fun. Some glitches and bugs are there, but nothing really crippling. The biggest problems with this game are bad key configuration and completely misguided concept of gameplay. It's like the creators had a pretty good idea about what the game should be all about, and then messed it up completely after a while. For some reason.
All in all, this game could've been great, if only they didn't turn it into a frustrating Red Alert rip-off after the first few great missions. Is it worth all the fuss? Depends entirely on your taste, so I'll let you decide...