On our journey through the mysterious section of Rezzed which was the over 18s only area, Charlie and I came across Company of Heroes 2; the greatly anticipated sequel in the popular strategy game series. I had never played the first game of the series before, and Charlie did not seem massively confident himself, be we opted to sit down and take part in a multiplayer battle which was about to kick off to see both what we and the game could do. Did we win the fight? Sadly not. Did we enjoy it? We certainly did! Did the game have much to offer? Well, maybe this story of my experience will allow you to decide that for yourselves…
So we were to play as the Russians, with one experienced comrade on our side, against an opposing German onslaught of four on the other side of the wall who had seemed confident in themselves before the battle had even begun. Myself however, I had no fear. True enough, I was going in blind with no experience of this or the previous game to go on and so no idea what to expect, but I was playing the Russian side of a battle in a heavy blizzard, and if anyone was going to survive in those odds my money would be on those guys! So I composed myself for the battle, a member of the game’s team at Rezzed ready and waiting to point at things and shout how to do them in the game seeing as I was clueless, and in all honesty, I was quietly confident about the way this would play out…
The battle begins, I am already apparently two steps behind the others as I try and work out how to build anything, but it was ok, because help was at hand. With a bit of friendly advice I was on the road to war in no time at all, having built some structures, hired some soldiers and had some pretty tough-looking vehicles come to pick them up. The aim of this battle was simply to take control of three points on the map, however Company of Heroes 2 was a strategy game not content with such a simple objective, and this pleased me. Along the way were several structures and other points of interest which were worth having control over, or at least not letting the enemy have control over without a fight. The most significant of these appeared to be fuel depots, so I instantly moved in to battle it out for control of one in the centre of the map.
Things seemed to be going pretty well for me early on. I had three vehicles full of troops which were able to rain a steel storm of bullets upon my enemies with a dark and and cruel vengeance. This tactic held up for some time and I was laughing my way to what I believed would be a pretty simple victory. I was wrong. Why you ask? One word; tanks. While I was enjoying my “reign of terror” in my three jeeps of soldiers, I had forgotten to progress my military production in any way, and this had been a mistake. Needless to say, my jeeps did not last long, and I, if not the team as a whole, was suddenly on the back foot in this fight. I persistently attempted to push back against this new deadly force, but time it seems was not on my side and the enemy held the objective points long enough to take their victory.
The important thing of course was the taking part, if not for ourselves and our egos then for the simple fact that this is what would allow us to tell you guys what we thought of Company of Heroes 2 and what it had to offer. My usual strategy game of choice are the Age of Empires series, among others of course, and so for me this was the easiest thing to draw a comparison with. While the workings of each of these games are quite different, I was pleased with the ease of learning and complex but not over-complex nature of Company of Heroes 2. For someone who came in blind, even I was able to make a healthy impact on the battle and was not left sidelined by this disadvantage. I believe that for any newcomer to the series who enjoys strategy then Company of Heroes is very appropriately built to welcome you in with open arms. The look of the game was also fantastic, and several things about the way it played made it unique compared to other strategy games.
One of the most interesting, different and exciting features of this game were the natural events which came into play. In this battle for example, we were faced with regular blizzard events, which could easily change the face of the battle and test your ability for real-time strategic thinking. The blizzards could harm your soldiers if they were positioned in the open, outside of your home base area. This meant that if you were in the battlefield when a blizzard kicked off, you would have to find a building or vehicle in which to take shelter in order to avoid this problem. Such a dramatic change to play style could easily have been the deciding factor between our teams had one side been less prepared to deal with the situation than the other. This added a new sense of realism and intensity to the game which was different to any strategy game I had played before. A couple of other features which I found to be impressive and enjoyable were the tactical points around the field which gave important and necessary secondary objectives to fight and the use of buildings for cover and tactical approaches to the battle.
Company of Heroes 2 seemed to be a game which was shaped to bring realistic, hard tactics back to real-time strategy. As a new player I was very impressed by how quickly and happily I could get to grips with the game and the fact that I wasn’t placed at a massive disadvantage to those with greater experience. There was also plenty of depth to the game which would mean that returning players to the series would feel happily at home playing and the game was in no way limited, despite how welcoming it appeared to be for newbies. For all of these reasons and more, Company of Heroes 2 is likely to be a very popular strategy release indeed!
Check out our review of Company of Heroes 2 Here