Company of Heroes Review
I have played a lot of World War 2 RTS games over the past few years, which has meant that I’ve had to deal with a lot of frustration and disappointment. Things had gotten so bad that I was beginning to wonder if anyone would be able to find a way to translate the action from that war into an RTS game that would be both challenging and entertaining. It’s a good thing that I hadn’t completely given up hope though, as my patience has been rewarded by Company of Heroes. Not only is it an excellent World War II RTS game, it is an excellent RTS game that ranks right up there with some of the legends in the genre. Yes, it is that good.
Company of Heroes is developed by Relic, a company that has some experience with producing top-notch RTS games. If you’re familiar with the excellent Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War, then you’ll see some of that game’s influences in Company of Heroes. However, Company of Heroes is much more than Dawn of War with World War II units.
The game’s campaign is centered on the exploits of Able Company as they partake in the Normandy Campaign, from the storming of the beaches to the final blow that breaks the back of the German defenses. After the initial beach landing, you’ll face battles in both the countryside and cities of Normandy in which you’ll be faced with a variety of missions and challenges. However, the basics of the gameplay are always focused on acquiring and maintaining supply. Key locations on the maps are designated as manpower, munitions, or fuel points. Capture these locations and you’ll get a steady stream of the associated resources with which to create and upgrade units. In addition, you’ll only be able to benefit from these resource locations if the sectors in which they are located are currently in supply, meaning that there must be a contiguous line of controlled sectors between the supply point and your headquarters. As it should, it drives strategy in the game to taking key locations and defending them against counterattack. This resource model works quite well for a military RTS and is certainly a lot more realistic then putting an ax into the hands of an airborne soldier and telling him to go and chop down the nearest tree.
The game also allows you to choose from one of three “doctrines” during the game that determine which bonuses are available to you through the course of the game. For example, selecting the airborne doctrine will periodically make a group of rangers available for you to drop into the battlefield. These bonus “powers” are not powerful or common enough to upset the game’s strategic balance. Instead they add another component to the strategy and help to craft your forces to your style of play or strategic approach. Select the wrong doctrine at the wrong time and you can find yourself in a bit of a bind and facing tougher odds.