The long awaited sequel to one of the best real time strategy games is finally here. Relic has been touting Company of Heroes 2 with their new Essence 3.0 game engine that promised to bring updated visuals, destruction physics and so on. But is it worth the wait? Let’s find out.
Company of Heroes 2 does a job well done when it comes to representing its story elements and war-like theme. It totally captures the horrific moments of what its like to be in a war by introducing old-school television cut-scenes in a semi black and white colors, main menus that are full of war-themes, war medals and badges. The whole game is based on eastern European battles against the Germans as the Soviet faction. For the first time ever Relic introduces the Russian faction to the series and focuses the main story on them.
The new Essence 3.0 game engine is not bad; however I was extremely disappointed with the visuals, animations and the overall look of the game. When I started playing the game for the first time, I thought I was playing a game that was released 6 or more years ago. The game lacks the visual fidelity, and that is a misfortune, especially for this kind of game.
Now, graphics don’t make a game, but when you make a sequel to a game that was released years ago I expect it to look more visual appealing than its predecessor. However, that was not the case, and this will annoy many people, especially those who are moving on to next-generation PC gaming and consoles. How do you make a sequel to a game seven years later and make it look like almost the original game? This decision boggles my mind, and I am quite displeased.
The engine does provide crisp destruction and smoke effects, but that’s about it. I don’t see anything remarkable about it other than a marketing tool that tries to make the game seem that it’s next-gen strategy game, when in reality it’s not at all.
Stuff like this disappoints me, I am hoping that Relic Entertainment learns their lessons and starts to make engines that have some sort of noticeable graphical overhaul rather than additions of smoke and destruction effects. Overall, they could have done a way better job after all these years, but that is not the case.
Company of Heroes 2 gameplay is quite standard. You move your troops from one location to another on the map and complete objectives as you’re told. The initial mission asks the player to move my team towards a German territory and destroy their assault troops, then the heavy machine guns, German Panzer tanks and drive the fascists back. Once I’ve done all of that the mission was completed and I moved to on to the next. Navigating with the mouse and giving commands felt natural and easy. You use left click to select your squads and right-click to give them commands just like any standard strategy games.
As you progress through missions you will gain new units to command, new abilities will be unlocked and so on. The game is quite deep when it comes to combat, you can use cover to evade extra fire and keep your troops alive longer. Play strategically by using flanking positions to sneak up on enemies and take over the equipment or take out their heavy artillery. The game is full of strategic elements and fun warfare. This particularly plays a large part in the addicting multiplayer that the game offers.
The multiplayer will be the main reason you’ll be playing Company of Heroes 2 after you finish the campaign. You can customize your army load-outs and save them out to equip whichever ones you want for battle. The multiplayer portion provides players with a ton of different options on how you want to play the game.
Another impressive addition is the built-in twitch.tv function that lets you stream/broadcast your game simply by logging into your twitch.tv account.
This is one of the first games that I have seen supporting a built-in twitch.tv streaming/broadcasting feature. I applaud Relic Entertainment for their outstanding multiplayer support for Company of Heroes 2.
Overall, the gameplay in Company of Heroes 2 is solid, and if you’ve enjoyed the first game then you’ll be in for a treat with the second if you don’t mind the bare-bone visuals even when the game is maxed out.
On a broader scale, Company of Heroes 2 is a solid game, but it’s also a slight disappointment when it comes to the visual representation, especially after seven or so years of waiting. I think if Company of Heroes 2 actually looked better it would be more fun to play. Despite the disappointing graphics, the game still provides a ton of fun with its strategic gameplay elements and addicting multiplayer that many Real-Time Strategy fans will enjoy.
If you’ve played the previous game then, I strongly suggest you pick this game up and have fun with it. If you’re new to the franchise I would advise you to play the first game and then if you enjoy it, purchase Company of Heroes 2 and give it a shot.
If you don’t care about the graphics, but rather nifty gameplay then this is an enjoyable game. However, if you’re looking for kick-ass visual fidelity and astounding gameplay then you won’t find it here. I think the developers did a terrific job at creating the sequel. However, I think they could have done a much better job at pushing the hardware, considering how competitive PC gaming is nowadays. Overall, this is a solid game and a worthy entry in to the Company of Heroes franchise.
This game was reviewed on PC.