Company of Heroes Review

[b]Artillery shells start to rain through the town, mortar rounds are being bombarded through the rubble. You watch on as your men get suppressed by enemy machine gun fire while snipers are taking down your men one by one. Your guys starts to take cover and begin flanking the enemy out into the open. You pray for a miracle to happen, just then you hear tanks moving toward your position. You cheer as your Sherman tanks started to roll in and begin shelling through enemy lines.[/b]

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This sounds like another typical World War II FPS game but it’s not. It’s a brand new RTS game brought to you by Relic Entertainment, the developers who made the hit RTS game, Warhammer 40,000 : Dawn of War.

The game sets in during the World War II in which you lead your company, Able Company into German territory. After awing at the cinematics in which shows a scene where waves of Allied soldiers in boats rushing towards the beach, you’ll be thrown straight into the battle of Ohama Beach on D-Day. During this first mission you will be taught on how to control the units and how to micro their individual skills. The game brings you to actual battle sites during the war such as the famous town, Carentan to Mortain.

You may think of it as another boring RTS within the lines of other titles such as Command and Conquer : Generals. But this games brings RTS gaming to a whole new level like what Relic’s previous title did. Relic done a great job in improving the computer AI scripting for the game, now your units will be able to make full use of covers and where to hide and ambush, they will interact with the changing enviornment and execute squad tatics. Instead of your normal RTS games by which you gather resources, Relic tried to change by introducing changes to the traditional resource model, eliminating as much resource management as possible expanding on concepts from previous games and creating a more strategic and action-oriented RTS experience for this game. You gather resources by capturing certain points in the map in which they’ll supply you with manpower, fuel and ammo. You will be awe-struck by the graphics this game has to offer, the maps are very detailed and it introduces the [b][i]”Havoks 3 Physics Engine”[/i][/b] in which most FPS games has, so you’ll be able to see human bodies rolling down the slope or body parts getting thrown into the air from explosions. Different parts of the building could be blown apart by grenade or motar shells, heavy vehicles are able to run through certain buildings and walls. Bombarments will leave you craters on the ground, supplying you with extra support cover. Relic Entertainment developed a new engine known as the [b][i]”Essence Engine”[/i][/b], this engine was designed and coded from scratch by Relic in order to make use of all next-generation graphical effects, including High Dynamic Range lighting, dynamic lighting & shadows, advanced shader effects and normal mapping.

Like all strategy games, all units will have their pro and cons. Tanks could be taken down by a group of rangers and riflemen if you’re able to micro them correctly, the tank will be down within seconds. Micro managment is the key into succesful gameplay, you trained out units and deploy them into covers and wait for enemy ambush. If you think by training tons of tanks and sending them towards the enemy en masse will determine you a win, then you’re wrong.

Every unit has a role in the game, riflemen are the bread and butter of your unit, they’re cheap and verstatile; being able to pick up MG-42s or Panzershreck/M9 Bazooka or upgrade them to use Thompson SMG. You could split them up and pick up motar and AT guns. Motars would be able support you with bombardment or provide you with cover from smoke cartriges. MG-42 are good to suppress enemy infantries while the snipers are good for scouting and taking down enemy infantry. Engineers could be equiped with flamethrowers and are good at the battlefront, they could deploy mines, build MG nest/bunkers or repair your vehicles. From this basic layout of infantry units, you could come out with thousands of strategy to mix and match their skills to use them for your advantages. You’ll be able to reenforce your squad but you need to be near your HQ or near a halftrack.

Vehicles such as the half-tracks which would allow you to transport to the Allied Sherman tanks or the Axis Panther or Tiger tanks plays out important roles as well. Although they’re powerful, you could only build a small amount of each. You could clear most terrains with these beauties, running down walls and hedges, allowing your infantry units being able to run through the area at a faster speed. Jeeps are used to recce and harass enemy infantries.

As for the multiplayer function, I didn’t get the chance to try it out yet, but for skirmish modes, you get to choose either the Allied or Axis forces. There’s a wide range of maps for you to play in, all of them are beautifully designed and detailed.

Overall, I’ll say this is a game worth getting for it’s unique gameplay and intense graphics. But one has to check his requirments before getting it has the requirments are quite high.

[i]Written by .. Ken'[u][b]neth[/u][/b] , a freelance web/graphics designer.[/i]

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