Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Company of Heroes - my new PC Game

Well, I’ve been playing Company of Heroes for about a week now (it’s actually been more like 5 days), so I guess I’ve played it enough to give a general idea of what the game is like. Now, mind you, I haven’t gotten every single unit in the tech tree, or even tried my hand at the German army, but, I do feel like I’ve had enough experience to give a general idea of what the game is like.

First of all, if you didn’t know, Company of Heroes is Relic Entertainment’s (the makers of hits like Homeworld and Dawn of War) 4th RTS game. It is set in WWII, and does the usual campaign, D-day to Berlin. In it, you command Able Company of some regiment and fight the German Army.

Anyways, the game is really good. It’s much more focused on Squad-based combat, and thus is much smaller in scale than games like Command and Conquer or Age of Empires. Your basic squads come in units of 6 for combat squads (1 sgt, 4 soldiers, and 1 special weapon, like a Bazooka, a 55mm Recoilless Rifle, or a BAR gun), and things like artillery teams, machine gun and mortar crews come in groups of 3 (one spotter, one gunner, on ammo guy).

The game really does focus on squads, but tanks and other vehicles play a good part. Your infantry are helpess against tanks, and not that effective against Half-tracks and such, so if you go up against a tank, even with a bazooka or Recoilless Rifle, you are in serious trouble.

However, tanks do have weaknesses. Artillery can outrange them and pound them to the ground. Mines, which can be set by engineers (and in some instances, riflemen for the Allies) will make quick work of them, and if you can stay away from them, your bazookas will eventually finish them off.

One of the really cool things about the game is the realism. Your men operate like real soldiers. When you order them to walk through a street, they don’t jog up the center as fast and as loud as they can, making themselves perfect targets for the enemy. No, instead they do their best to take cover, hide behind fallen rubble or derelict cars. That way, when the machine gun post up ahead starts firing, you don’t lose the entire squad, if any.

Then, there is the resource system. Much like its predessor, Dawn of War, you gain resources by capturing Strategic points on the map. However, unlike Dawn of War, you gain ALL (not just 1) of your 3 (not two) resources, manpower, munitions, and supplies, by taking points on the map. Also, unlike Dawn of War, your points must be linked in order for you to get supplies from it to your HQ. So, if you have points A and C, but don’t have point B in between them, then you can’t get supplies from C to A. This really opens up strategic opportunities in the game. It’s not necessarily about owning the field, but about denying your enemy resources in their front. Taking 1 key position and heavily defending it can ruin your opponent’s entire “economy” as it is.

Second of all, upgrades and stuff work differently. In most games, you upgrade your squads at the base, and they all feel the effects. They gain a special gun, more armor, more attack, or possibly a new ability, which they can use free of charge from there on. In Company of Heroes however, you must pay for EACH use (and I think pay for the initial research charge as well), making your abilities much more expensive. Still, the ability to throw a satchel charge at an enemy building, and destroy it, or stick bomb a tank and hope to blow its tracks, is much better than getting killed. And, generally speaking, I haven’t felt the sting of this quite yet, though I’m sure it later missions it’ll be much more annoying.

Anyways… those are what I think are the best points of company of heroes… you can read a real review at places like Gamespy, Gamespot, and IGN. Go ahead and check the game out, it is defiantly worth a buy.

Signing off for now,


No comments: