Gaming Under The Radar – Company of Heroes
These reviews have proven to be quite popular on this site, where I critique video games that have been largely overlooked by the community. Previous titles Ive covered include Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing and Shadows of The Damned, and today’s is THQ’s and Relic’s strategy game Company of Heroes.
While I was searching for the right word to sum up this game in one word I nearly went with ‘innovative’ or ‘ambitious’ but there is only one word to describe Company of Heroes – revolutionary.
Here is why Company of Heroes is nothing short of revolutionary. For starters it almost completely re-invents the RTS genre by focusing largely on squad-based combat rather than the traditional ‘build a base and defend it while simultaneously attacking the enemy base’ which after goodness knows how many Command & Conquer games and countless other titles that follow the same formula is a well-needed breath of fresh air. Your squads are capable of laying mines, building small structures such as sandbags, barbed wire fences and even turrets for defensive purposes, and there are enough different types of units available for you to work out any number of strategies to take down enemy forces.
The story itself is simple enough, it’s basically a re-telling of the Allies’ invasion of the German-occupied Normandy during World War II and your goal is to essentially capture flags on each map which allow you to earn more resources for building and creating new units. The controls are laid out perfectly and there’s a detailed tutorial available at the beginning of the campaign, all of which helps towards an exciting and engaging experience. One word of warning though – Company of Heroes is incredibly hard in places, sometimes frustratingly so.
Score – 8/10
For a game that’s six years old as I write this the graphics found in Company of Heroes are almost flawless. Up-close units, tanks and the environment around you look stunning, and explosions are immensely satisfying to look at. The war-ravaged scenery is a particular highlight of mine, and the ability to destroy many buildings that the Axis might be hiding in (or if something is just simply in the way) is fantastic and very realistic. Units can look silly as they fly quite literally in slow motion after being hit by tank fire or walking on a mine, but aside from that everything is about as realistic as can be expected.
Score – 9/10
Sound and Music
Going back to explosions being satisfying to look at, they’re even better to hear. I have the benefit of a decent stereo system that’s hooked up to my PC, and more than once this game has been responsible for rattling my windows and causing me to yell in excitement. Everything from the aforementioned explosions to the small details like the rumbling and creaking of massive tanks is captured to perfection, and the voice acting isn’t bad either. Night-time missions are met with whispered replies to your commands for an added touch of realism, and if you command a squad to do something off-screen their reply sounds like it’s coming in over a radio. The only minor flaw is with units cutting themselves or each other off if you issue commands too quickly, but I’m nit-picking.
Score – 9/10
With a decent lengthy campaign and an ‘anthology’ version of Company of Heroes available (consisting of expansion packs Opposing Fronts and Tales of Valor) for a relatively cheap price there is no doubt that this game offers exceptional value for money. I’m not a multiplayer gamer so I can’t say if that’s any good or not, but other reviews have mentioned this is also a big time consumer. Overall if you’re looking for a new take on the RTS genre and something that is truly challenging you can’t go wrong with Company of Heroes.