"Deserves much more attention and love than it gets..."

I could only expect a great RTS game when I found out that Company of Heroes was being developed Relic Entertainment. Company of Heroes not only met my expectations, but it also exceeded them. At a glance, Company of Heroes may seem like just another RTS based off World War II. However, the gameplay, graphics, and sound of the Company of Heroes distinguish it from any of the RTS games that have been created in the past few years.

Graphics

The graphics of Company of Heroes are marvelous. Explosions are rightfully exciting and epic. The game looks good even on outdated computers from four years ago like mine. What makes the graphics of Company of Heroes special is the physics engine and the marvelous animations. You see your soldiers running and diving to take cover. You see them shaken and running from explosions. Many more instances can be named where I paused to just look at the game play out for a moment. These realistic subtleties completely integrated me into the game. The physics engine is no slouch either. Buildings collapse, planes can crash into buildings, and tanks will run over your soldiers. It is not just a gimmick either. The physics can be used to make the difference between a mission’s success and failure. I have never played another RTS where the physics was integrated with the gameplay so cleanly and effectively.

Sound

Company of Heroes is filled with humorous voices, well-produced voice-overs in cut scenes, and very satisfying sounds of war. From the ominous whistling of artillery, to the rattling of machine gun fire, the sounds complement the graphics of the game perfectly to give you an immersive experience. If you were playing this game on a large monitor and good speakers, you would feel as if you were watching a movie.

Gameplay

However, it is said that the backbone behind any game is still its gameplay. Company of Heroes must have an adamantium-plated backbone. The game is easy to pick up and play if you have played any RTS games before. Its model is based on territorial control and resource management. If you have not played an RTS game before, a helpful tutorial is included. There are several difficulty modes for you to choose from as well. When playing under normal mode, there were several missions where I felt tense and challenged, which is the way a game should be. The AI is more than satisfactory as well. Path finding was rarely a problem for my units. Units would automatically move towards cover if they were under fire. Enemy units will retreat if they are horribly outnumbered. However, enemy AI is not intelligent enough to provide an insane challenge for you. For example, enemy soldiers and tanks often will not move away from grenades or satchel charges. Still, the AI was excellent and did not cause me any noticeable problems.

Overall, Company of Heroes is the clearly the most innovative RTS this year, if not these past five years. It also happens to be the one that I’ve had the most fun with in terms of single-player for a long time. My only minor gripe with this game is that not enough people play it. However, that is the fault of the market.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 10/31/06


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