The original Company of Heroes was a game adored by critics and gamers alike. Company of Heroes 2 builds upon the solid foundations of the original and adds exciting new features, such as fog of war; winter weather and, of course, a shift to the eastern front.
The single-player campaign has you playing as the USSR, reliving battles from the devastating Operation Barbarossa to the capture of Berlin. Like its predecessor, Company of Heroes 2 starts every mission with a cut scene, battle orders, and historical context. The historical context is perhaps the best part of the prelude to a mission; it conveys a good amount of knowledge that helps you understand the position of the Red army at the time – their situation, how desperate they were, or key goals. The cut scenes is where it really falls flat, the voice acting is still sub-par and animations feel stiff and jerky. It doesn't feel like these scenes actually add something to the game.
The campaign itself is detailed, but takes a while to build up as different aspects of the game's mechanics are gradually introduced. This is great for new players to Company of Heroes, but tedious and disengaging for players already experienced with the Company of Heroes franchise.
There are times when campaigns become a bit too easy with endless amounts of conscripts available to call in to be sacrificed, meaning victory can be achieved by raw numbers as opposed to superior strategy.
The addition of new game mechanics, such as fog of war, means that unit's sight is dynamic and affected by different landforms or buildings blocking their line of vision. The feature is meant to more accurately represent what soldiers would actually be able to see rather than a pre-defined radius of vision. This coincides well with the new winter weather and snow storms that can really minimise your field of view when playing. Coupled with the need to provide shelter or warmth for your soldiers to keep them from freezing, and the ability to crack ice and make lakes impassable, the new features and weather systems add a whole new dimension to the game. It can make for some really interesting and deep battles online against other humans.
The audio provided in game completely outclasses the voice acting. You can hear the deep bass in tank or artillery shots and can pick out every bullet fired by a machine gun. The audio binds all the aspects of the game together to provide coherent and engaging battles.
Tank and soldier models are as authentic as they were in the last Company of Heroes game. Based off of real life units, every model has been designed in detail to replicate its real-life counterpart as close as possible. It leaves you in no doubt that the units you use and the battles you fight were similar to those that were actually fought during World War Two.
Company of Heroes 2 really stands out online, where you can team up with humans to face humans or AI. The whole experience is a lot more challenging when game mechanics are used to their fullest extent, unlike in the single-player campaign. The objective of a battle is still to capture victory points and increase your resources so you can increase your army and over-power your enemy. Multiple commanders also return to the game, which give you a range of different abilities that can be used in a battle like an artillery barrage or a tank.
Company of Heroes two is a fantastic improvement over the last. If you enjoyed the original one, Company of Heroes two will not disappoint. If you are yet to try your hand at micro-managing an army or the Company of Heroes series, this is a great place to start.
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