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Posted on Sep 13, 2006 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Company of Heroes – Recon (PC)

By Jason Taylor

I have played many real time strategy games over the years. I have played many World War 2 games as well. Seldom have the two worked well together. I’ve always found that the click fest that many real time strategy games turn into do not fit well into the World War 2 mold. Relic looks to defy this convention with Company of Heroes.

Company of Heroes takes place in the European theater starting with the Normandy invasion. American forces duke it out with the Germans from Omaha beach to Berlin .

Company of Heroes doesn’t have resource gathering like other strategy games. Instead, players fight for locations on the map, which provide one of the three resources in the game: manpower, munitions, or fuel.

Before each mission starts, the player is given detailed instructions on what the objectives are, points of interest on the battlefield, and known enemy strength and location.

You control squads of men instead of individual soldiers (excepting for cases like snipers, who operate alone). They are affected by morale and behave intelligently, seeking cover when under fire, keeping their heads down when suppressed, and running like the wind when you give them the order to fall back. Infantry can garrison buildings to give them cover advantages.

If the enemy has occupied some structures and you cannot root them out, you can always try artillery. Artillery is truly the god of war in Company of Heroes as it was for the soldiers who fought in Europe. With a completely destructible environment, the buildings once offering shelter to the enemy will soon be rubble. The newly formed terrain can provide shelter for infantry as they seek cover in shell holes.

Watching artillery fire falling on enemy positions is one of the greatest moments of awe I have experienced in gaming. After a battle is done, you can save a replay of it to watch at your leisure. This is great in that often during a battle I am too occupied controlling my forces to pay attention to the little details that make this game so much fun. The fully three dimensional camera allows you to zoom right in to the ground level for a close up look of the action or remain up above the battlefield with a bird’s eye view.

Players are able to capture enemy equipment and use it against its former owner. In the Omaha mission, after clearing the beach, I killed the crew of an 88 and used it to destroy another 88 covering the beach. Such moments in gaming are truly memorable. You can also re-crew your own weapons if the original crew is lost.

All of the units in the game are based on real weapons and equipment of the time. Armored vehicles are more vulnerable in the sides and especially the rear. Individual components, weapons or crew members can be disabled, rendering the vehicle immobile or unarmed.

In all, this game looks to be one of the finest World War 2 games ever developed. I for one cannot wait to get my hands upon it once it hits the shelves.