It brings back fond memories remembering the hours I spent playing the first Company of Heroes. Its level of depth and challenge was unmatched at the time, particularly for someone like myself who couldn’t get the high-end PC games to work on my gaming platform of choice. Company of Heroes 2 has been on my radar for a while, but for a different reason: I have cautious optimism that it’s going to challenge me in a way not felt since the first game in 2006.
The first mistake I made when going into this game was that I’d be able to dominate like I did in the first game: what a mistake!
This is a series that dictates pristine skills and patience, and having not played it for a while, as you can imagine my skills weren’t the best. Soon, I discovered that my ability to rejuvenate units wasn’t nearly as effective as it used to be. My skills have waned considerably.
Focusing on the Eastern Front, a brutal period of battle which saw more fatalities than any other point in history, this game offers a strategic passion often missing from contemporary re-imagining of classics in the genre. The recent release of SimCity is certainly representative of that. After only a few hours with Company of Heroes 2 I found myself staring down the barrel of defeat: this is the Company of Heroes I remember!
Each skirmish starts off with an engineer squad, allowing you to build barracks and spawn the necessary units to defend the area and expand. Once you’ve captured a few points you can work to build up your tanks and artillery, just to be on the safe side.
Any good strategy game is going to punish you for illogical decisions and rushed units, and only a few minutes into my first Company of Heroes 2 playthrough, I found myself struggling to keep control of the map. I went into the game thinking I needed to create units I didn’t need, and the game punished me accordingly. You plan, you play and you succeed. That’s the challenge of any good strategy game.
Once I started capturing points, the enemy was bombarding me with fire balls, tanks and mortars, which reign down with hellish fire and aggression that is near-impossible to fight.
While the beta only provided access to skirmish matches with a maximum of six human opponents, there are some presentational issues that I hope are rectified in the final game. The most damning is the map view: the game zooms in so close as to make keeping track of troops often a chore, as you can’t zoom out far enough to view an entire captured area. It’s not a dealbreaker, but it forces you to keep an eye on the hud map in the bottom left corner, which is not something I’d expect to see in a game released in 2013.
Unfortunately, the expected experience of churning out unit after unit eventually became tiring, but the beta provided enough of an insight to, at the very least, grasp the game’s core gameplay. The campaign promises to delve deep into the battle for the Eastern Front, and with that should come an experience far removed from the continuous need to pump out unit after unit, as one would expect to do in a skirmish battle.
The Final Verdict
This is definitely a Company of Heroes game. The campaign promises to add meaning to your strategy, and while the beta lacks the depth of the full game, it provided me with enough to know it will feed my strategy game cravings.