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Posted on Oct 16, 2006 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Company of Heroes – Game Review (PC)

By Jason Taylor

Each side (the Axis and the Allies) has several doctrines available to them. The Allies can select Infantry, Airborne, or Armor while the Axis can select Defensive, Blitz, or Terror. Each doctrine grants abilities to players after they are purchased with points earned through battlefield experience. From paratroopers to V1 rockets, these abilities can make or break the battle for you. They’re diverse enough to grant their own flavor, but still remain true to their respective sides to fit their play style.


Company of Heroes marks the debut of the Essence engine. And what an amazing engine it is. No other RTS is as beautiful as this one on its maximum settings. Be warned however; unless your gaming rig is a real beast, you’ll have to turn down some settings to achieve acceptable framerates. But if any game is worth upgrading your machine for, this is it. With the inclusion of the Havok physics engine, you’ll want the game to run as cranked up as you can get it.


The game includes real collision detection for rounds fired: the first time I saw a shell fired from my anti-tank gun bounce harmlessly off the hull of a German assault gun, I was in awe. The terrain is completely destructible and can change the dynamics of a battle over time. A fight that starts in a peaceful town can leave it a ruined shell of its former self. Shelling certain buildings or terrain is a viable strategy as you can shape the terrain to suit your needs or deny it to the enemy.


The music is neither good, nor bad, but about average for the genre. After a few games I found that I had turned it off so that I could better experience where the game better shines: sound effects. From unit acknowledgements to the sound of a V1 rocket streaking towards its target, the sounds in this game are amazing. Unit chatter is something that I was not expecting – infantry units in game will talk to each other on occasion. Of particular note was the first time in the campaign my paratroopers encountered a Tiger. I could hear genuine fear in the soldier’s voice as he screamed a warning to his buddies upon seeing the formidable tank. I doubt I will ever get tired of the hearing the bark of MG42s on full auto.

Documentation and Technical

The manual is about what you’d expect for an RTS. It adequately explains how to play the game and manipulate the camera. The dynamics of the game are outlined in an easy to read format. It identifies the units and buildings in the game but does not go into great detail concerning their best uses. A few online connection issues (especially with certain Netgear routers) spoil an otherwise excellent online experience. Relic Online is the new connection service for Company of Heroes and it does an admirable job. There are a few places it can be optimized regarding game setup, but it is not bad for a first attempt.

Armchair General Rating: 90%

58/60 – Gameplay
18/20 – Graphics
09/10 – Sound
05/10 – Documentation and Technical

Pros: Excellent gameplay, Havok physics engine, unparalleled sound effects.

Cons: So-so manual, a few online connection bugs.

Bottom Line: Far and away the single best World War II RTS game I have ever played.

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