At first glance it would seem that “Company of Heroes 2” is just another WW2-era real-time strategy game, more of the same rehashed themes and mechanics that fans of the genre have become accustomed to. However, after loading up and playing this wonderful game for 30 minutes or so those thoughts will quickly dissipate. While it’s not perfect, CoH2 accomplishes quite a bit from a technical standpoint and manages to provide players with series of rewarding challenges.
This sequel to the wildly popular “Company of Heroes” places you in the boots of the U.S.S.R. (which is quite the change of pace). Where other WW2-era titles tend to focus on the heroic actions of Western nations, “Company of Heroes 2” provides a simulated glimpse into the horrors that took place on the Eastern front. In any case, the larger goal here is the same as always – to kill Nazis, only now you have waves of soldiers at your disposal, some of which might even turn to flee the battle.
Without a doubt, the graphics are one of CoH2’s strongest points. The level of detail present is staggering; moreover, models, lighting, environments and explosions are all true to form and really make the game quite a pleasure to play. The newly added weather mechanics (ColdTech system) also bode well for this title and helps to add yet another layer of authenticity and realism to the onscreen action. The overall production is fantastic; you will be treated to various cut-scenes which help to further frame-up the immediate conflict at hand, as well as the occasional historical clip, perhaps featuring Stalin.
In terms of its gameplay, “Company of Heroes 2” more ore less closely follows that of its predecessor (which many might consider to be a good thing). In other words, don’t expect too many new surprises, but don’t get the wrong idea, CoH2 is still solid in its execution. The real focus of the game is obviously its classic RTS-style controls and action, which is probably what a lot of CoH fans have been waiting for. While the game can certainly be challenging at times, the difficulty is somewhat overshadowed by the fact that you can simply call up near endless conscripted troops. Some might find this to be disparaging, but it would seem that the intention is to show gamers the brutal savagery of war itself. Some troops might even try to flee, which usually means that they’ll be targeted and killed on the spot in accordance with “Order 227” (Stalin’s decree to shoot retreating soldiers on the spot). The campaign is fairly enjoyable, some missions being better than others, but on the whole it’s extremely solid and serves the genre as well as its namesake well. Aside from the single player story mode, the multiplayer and offline skirmishes with the A.I., there is also the “Theater of War” mode. In essence, it is a series of solo or cooperative challenges which many will find even more demanding than the campaign itself.
In short, Company of Heroes fans are going to want to pick up this game as it will certainly provide them with more of the action that they love and crave, albeit in slightly updated form. Similarly, RTS devotees will also find “Company of Heroes 2” to be one of the better titles around, especially if they never played the first game in the series.