Maybe, it’s just me or maybe my expectations simply do not meet the given product. I did my best to stay away and not to be judgmental but as it appears – with the latest RTS Company of Heroes 2 it is not possible. They have had 7 years to improve the situation and make something different and better, they have had all the chances one can imagine and, for some reason, missed them all. So, if you expect fruits and flowers from this review, then I would recommend you to stay away and find something else because the next sentences are going to be critical and feelings free.
For those gamers who have no idea what Company of Heroes 2 is, I am simply forced to dedicate at least short paragraph. 7 years ago Relic (one of the well known game development companies) released a real time strategy about the World War II that was called Company of Heroes. Frankly speaking, back than it was nothing more but a decent copy of the Dawn of War but for some reason it managed to become even more popular than its ancestor. Even Relic themselves did not expect to witness this kind of impact. From that point Company of Heroes franchise is said to be a perfect example for any other game alike and if you want to release something great – you have to beat the master in a fair development battle.
But years have passed and month after month the original title of Company of Heroes turned into the modern classics and players asked for more. Of course, Number 2 always brings lots of responsibilities with it and not a single person has a right to make Number 2 be bad. One of the greatest examples is Bioshock and all the other parts that followed the original: they all have been great and they all made me feel special. If you can’t provide people with something alike, then better stay away and do something else but never, I repeat, never touch the sequel, or else you can come up with something like Company of Heroes 2.
By all means, every single fan of the game has been waiting for it to become real since the very first rumor talks have been talked, thoughts have been though. And then came one trailer and another, screenshots and first impressions from beta testers… Well, nothing seemed to be wrong but somewhere, for the set of unknown reasons, it went wrong and the idea of making the most impressive real time strategy about the World War II vanished in a blink of an eye.
Company of Heroes 2 Gameplay
We all know that World War II was called like that for a reason because almost the whole world was involved in cruel battles. Well, Relic have made a decision to skip that part and left only two fighting nations in the game. By all means, I do support the idea that Soviet Union and Germany have been involved in the most epic and cruel fights but this is 2013 outside and making at least three opposing sides is rather a rule than an exception. After all, the original Company of Heroes used to have more than one enemy and even popular back than Call of Duty offered their fans an opportunity to survive on both fronts. Well, Company of Heroes 2 is not like that and here you have either Germans or Soviet Soldier. And even if you can live with that – there are a few more thing that will surprise your imagination.
As it was mentioned before, the Russian\German front was definitely the cruelest one with the most epic battles and with most dedicated heroes. And if you think about it, the list of interesting and breathtaking missions can be unlimited. Well, Company of Heroes 2 creators think different and missions you play have from 10 to 25% of truth. Everything else is nothing more but a Fiction book imprisoned in a computer game. Of course, if that is not a problem for you – then you are good to go but still, I just wanted you to know that if you are expecting to play the history once again – you won’t have that opportunity.
The number of (how to say it well) idiotic and surprising ideas (surprising in a bad way, unfortunately) is really high. By all means: war is always pain and suffering but there is no need to show all the cruelty in a computer game that has to become the game of the year in its category. Maybe, I’m not saying it right but let me explain and you will agree with me, I promise. So, when your troops are retreating, get prepared to see them burning the villages and killing the peaceful citizens. Correct me if I’m wrong, but killing villagers when retreating is not exactly what soldiers do when their lives are in danger. Burning bridges or destroying plants – sure, that sounds reasonable but killing people for nothing – not in this situation, especially if you are a Russian soldier and run through the Russian village. But that is not all. If you happen to have German prisoners, there is a great possibility that you will have to witness their death. In some parts of the game Germans will be executed no matter what you decide to do. That is not logical. And the best part (again – in a bad sense): NKVD (aka Peoples Commissariat for Internal Affairs). This organization was shown in all its dark beauty and insanity. Well, those who know will understand why Soviet Officers with machine guns shot their comrades in their backs but those who do not know the reason for this civil massacre will get a misleading understanding of the World War II. Maybe I will repeat myself but War (any war) has always been and will always be the worst place on Earth, usually organized by impulsive dictators or people who have their own interests in getting more power and money but there is no need to take out all the dirt of WWII and smear it all over the monitor. At least, this kind of move makes you look bad.
Strategy and Characters
This part of the game deserves the whole chapter in a book. Internet vanishes all borders and we all know that. We also know that lots of game developers are from Russia or Ukraine and they do know how Slavic names sound. Well, trust me – Lev Abramovich Isakovich is never likely to be real. It has at least two words wrong in it, so don’t even get me started. Unfortunately, the whole game is like this and when Russian soldiers talk, they use the unknown mix of Russian and English languages and make their curses sound incredibly wrong. It’s a shame to hear and see things alike in 2013.
If you enjoy keeping bad guys on the distance and snipers are you people, get ready to see how a sniper with his sniper rifle helps his comrades with suppressing fire. Correct me if I’m wrong but this is very unlikely to be true with the Mosin-Nagant (considering, that it is a bolt action rifle). NKVD soldier also came from the parallel universe and at a certain moment you get a feeling that the game was created using people’s comments from some forums than on experts’ comments. The whole campaign was designed to show how senselessly Russian soldiers used to fight and die.
Even if you think that you are the best player in the world, I can assure you that you will be forced to retreat at least a few times no matter how great you play. Maybe, this was developers’ idea to show how hard it was to fight Germans but let me ask you something: when you keep your defense on the highest possible level and not a single German soldier reaches you because your positions are well fortified and have support from all the possible angles, then why, in the name of God, the whole division sounds for retreat? I can forgive this one time, two times and even three times but I have no interest in spending 30 minutes playing this game like a real warrior and then lose everything just in a second. That is not what I came for and that is not why I spend 60$ on Company of Heroes 2. Usually, when you see that your enemy is week – you do not wait for him to get better to refill his rows with the reinforcement because you do one little thing called counterattack. Well, during the first part of the game Russians won’t have that kind of opportunity and you, as their commander, will have to watch you soldiers die.
Ok, enough with the Russians and let’s speak about Germans. Wait, what Germans? Would you believe me that there are no Germans as such in Company of Heroes 2? I bet you would not but still – this is true. Yes, you have tanks with Swastikas, soldiers dressed in different camo but you don’t have Germans as one, great and magnificent striking force. Never the less, even when attacking in small groups they do manage to act like crazy performing incredible moves. But that, my friend, is not the most “impressive” thing. German soldiers have no commanders and speak no language. Yes, they are speechless. Maybe, because Russian’s Russian is too epic for them. For the first time I thought it was some kind of bug but the only units that fought in silence were Germans. Probably, another reason for keeping their mouths shut is the AI sitting in every little German warrior. From time to time they desperately decide to attack a well fortified position in number of 3 or 5 soldiers or mindlessly enjoy the picturesque landscapes driving Stug III with damaged and nonworking cannon. Maybe, I know very little about the war strategy but it seems like Company of Heroes 2 creators know about it even less. In some moments you can literary see how enemy attacks this or that point without any preparation because the inner soul in a form of AI tells it to do that no matter what. Guys, we are not in 2006 anymore. Check your calendar – it’s 2013 outside.
Technically, the Company of Heroes 2 gameplay is no different from the one you had to deal with in the first part. But let’s be frank: it was kind of hard to spoil something in here. Of course, 7 years have made this game look better but not better enough. Of course, a real time strategy like this requires no precise interest in details but still – it is nice to see soldiers dressed in the appropriate uniform as well as tanks firing cannons with all the beauty. You can do that in 2013, so why you don’t?
Probably, the main difference between two sides is that one has more people and the other one better machines. The balance between Russians and Germans is based on a very simple principle: soldiers are cheap and heavy machinery appears only somewhere in the middle of the single mode campaign. One of the greatest roles is played by those soldiers or tanks which have flamethrowers. In some missions one tank with a hell gun can create a real massacre without any problems. Well, this looks kind of strange but, maybe, even a bit realistic in a parallel universe. But still – you should not expect a lot from the AI that controls the whole game process. If you are tired and leave things as they are, you should expect pretty funny situations when a tank will try to destroy antitank cannon point-blank but at the same time its machine gun will be shooting at the enemy soldiers running somewhere in the forest. And, of course, the more units you have – the harder it gets to control them in Company of Heroes 2.
Ye, I know – I need to be a lot more positive and share only positive information. Sure, Company of Heroes 2 has a few good things that one can enjoy but the biggest YES here is game’s multiplayer. It is less boring and offers you a lot more intensive game process with a lot more interesting players. After all, now you have to play with the other players who have their own fighting strategies and moves. But again – keep it in mind that if you choose your opponent randomly – you might end up with a Company of Heroes 2 Level 40 gig who will destroy you in a blink of an eye.
As you’ve guessed already – they are not going to be positive. Sure, Company of Heroes 2 is a nice RTS strategy with its own unique design and small details but it does not deserve to be Company of Heroes 2. Without any doubt, I can call it Company of Heroes 1.5 or it could have been a decent update to the first game in the franchise but definitely not Number 2. After all, for a lot less than 60$ you can get the first Company of Heroes with all the great bonuses and really well balanced opposing sides.
I did my best not to offend anyone but as I’ve said before – Company of Heroes 2 was supposed to be amazing, incredible and unbelievable. Unfortunately, Relic went the other way and released a so-so game that is worse a fortune but only on its price tag.