It has been seven years since the release of Company of Heroes in 2006 and Relic Entertainment decided it was finally time for players to revisit the battlefield. Company of Heroes 2 offers a new outlook on strategic warfare within the Eastern Front, this time dealing not only with German forces, but also with the frigid environments within the Soviet world.
The single-player campaign follows the Soviet forces from Stalingrad to the advance on Berlin. Missions depict a true sense of urgency when illustrating the defense of civilians, the destruction of resources so as to not replenish the German forces, and holding off waves of attacks. Soviet forces were poorly supplied during the battle of Stalingrad, and so it would have been nice to see some squads weaponless until discovering some upon the ruined terrain. Gameplay also features numerous tense moments where being overrun is a distinct possibility and yet you press on. The sight of reinforcements offers only momentary relief with the hope of victory.
The 14 missions provide both an offensive and defensive approach to combat within the Eastern Front. You will find your standard ‘destroy all enemies’ missions, but there are also some that warrant mention such as tracking a Tiger tank through the snow with limited units and resources and executing German officers behind enemy lines with only a select few snipers.
The acquisition of resources is based on control points throughout each map. You will always be in need of additional ammunition and fuel, and so defending control points will be a priority. Their loss and the loss of a majority of your army will be catastrophic as re-taking them will be extremely difficult with conscript infantry. The variety of units available contains an extensive amount of deadly combinations. Your playstyle will determine which units you rely on while online play will have you becoming familiar with all that is at your disposal in order to be a threat to all players. Certain weapons may feel overpowered, but it is simply poor preparation with regards to your army. The mobilization of units to counter specific enemy soldiers will keep you in the fight. Weapons such as the flamethrower will devastate your ground forces before you can even react to taking cover and anti-tank guns can wreak havoc upon any vehicle from the side or behind. Strategic planning and positioning will be determining factors to many victories.
Watching units vault over obstacles to set up a perimeter with heavy machine guns and mortars is a sight that you will not tire of.
Both fighting and retreating within the Soviet army presented the possibility of death. Such actions are also taken into account with the inclusion of Order 227. Conscript reinforcements who retreat are executed by the Commissar at the headquarters. The addition of historical facts is a nice touch, but the story focuses more on soldier bravery and loyalty to their country than the countless casualties that were suffered throughout the Eastern Front.
Cinematics feel outdated, but in-game graphics will definitely impress. Unit interaction, detailed environments, and destruction on a chaotic scale will continually have your gaze focused on the action. Watching units vault over obstacles to set up a perimeter with heavy machine guns and mortars is a sight that you will not tire of. The sound of constant artillery barrages on enemy positions also adds to the overall immersive experience. Each unit is brought to life by their realistic interactions on the battlefield due to some newly added features.
The implementation of new innovative features is quickly made apparent through the initial combat sequences. TrueSight adds a more realistic approach to unit visibility in RTS warfare as they are only able to see what is in their line of sight. Units are able to keep out of sight behind taller objects and buildings, ambushing enemies as they pass by. You will also have to manually position machine gun units in order for them to cover the desired location. Environmental factors will also be considered, and so visibility will greatly deteriorate at night and during blizzards. The new Essence 3.0 engine has also brought about ColdTech, which is responsible for bringing the extreme cold to life in the Eastern Front. Units will slowly begin to freeze and will need warmth from fires or seek shelter within buildings. You will repeatedly encounter scenarios where you must decide to capture a strategic point with the risk of losing men, or seek shelter and wait for a blizzard to pass. You are also able to manipulate ice to your advantage by placing explosives or firing upon the ice to break it and swallow any enemy forces caught off guard.
As is common with several RTS games, the single-player campaign is viewed as a tutorial to prepare you for what lies ahead online. You attain a sense of familiarity among the different units available and their strengths and weaknesses, so that you are prepared to charge the fields with the units that will grant you victory.
Online competitive gameplay is the primary mode that attracts attention from RTS fans and the same is said here. The longevity and popularity of Company of Heroes 2 will be decided within the online realm and so far there is a lot of content to keep you engaged. The complexity of unit versatility will be highlighted more as you will try to exploit enemy unit weaknesses. Reconnaissance will also be essential in countering any opposition.
Online combatants will greatly benefit from the perks that can be located within the Army Customizer. You can customize your commander loadouts, vehicle skins, and unlock bulletins that will grant you slight superiority in combat. Completing challenges will grant you unlocks that vary from increasing damage, reload speed, and vehicle armour. Increases may seem insignificant at first, but every advantage is welcome when dealing with competitive matches. The Theatre of War modes offer additional single-player and cooperative challenges that will put your combative skills to the test. Achieving victory single-handedly will only feel like additional campaign missions, but playing with a friend to hold back advancing German reinforcements adds an entirely new perspective.
Company of Heroes 2 focuses more on online gameplay than a single-player driven experience. War on the Eastern Front is just as chaotic as it was in the West, but the addition of environmental factors adds a new level of depth that players will also have to tackle. Realistic combat coupled with a multiplayer mode that delivers will keep you charging the fields for an extended period of time.
+ New innovative features
+ Realistic combat
+ Variety of units
+ Cooperative missions
- Learning curve to be competitive in multiplayer
- Single-player campaign leaves us wanting more
Release date : 2013-06-25
Publisher : Sega
Developer : Relic
Gameplay : Strategy
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