With the dawn of advanced graphics engine, computer games have evolved to make the experience all the more riveting. Relic Entertainment’sCompany of Heroes is one of the best strategy games I have ever played. Set during the pinnacle of Second World War you get the chance to command two United States combat units & fight your way across Europe. With incredible graphics & audio Company of Heroes brings the memoirs of front line back to life. Single player campaign offers only the accessibility of the allied infantry, airborne company & armored cavalry support. You don’t get the chance to play the German faction in the campaign however you have the option to control them while playing in skirmish mode.
In-game campaign follows the story of Able Company under the command of Captain John MacKay & his friend Sergeant Joe Conti. At some point you also get the chance to command Fox Company'sairborne division. The story starts with Dwight Eisenhower’s ambition undertaking Operation Overlord where your infantry company storms the Omaha beach in Normandy on D-Day, June 6th 1944. Taking cue from Steven Spielberg’s epic movie Saving Private Ryan, the opening scene shows the viciousness of war. Against all odds you are given the objective to neutralize all the contiguous beach German garrisons & some Flak 88s. Just like the extensive first mission rest of the campaign is also pretty much intense. Some of the missions require direct assault like taking of the French town Carentan while others need good preparation before you can send your troops for full frontal attack. Missions like securing port of Cherbourg or capturing Saint Lo requires exhaustive planning. Company of Heroes can be played in four different difficulty settings; depending on your skill you can start with easy approach & later on leveling up to expert mode.
Even if you are new to RTS(Real Time Strategy) games, the campaign offers fair amount of training which helps you to comprehend a range of infantry ground tactics. Unlike other games like Rome Total War you don’t have to micro manage each & every details; instead the game streamlines some of the provisions helpful for finishing the missions. Each campaign maps have territories distinctively marked as Allied or Axis controlled. In order to progress you need a constant supply of manpower, fuel & munitions. Usually when you start any mission you are provided with a forward HQ ~headquarters along with a squad of engineers. You require these engineers to setup defenses & other military structures which help in providing advanced combat & support units. While exploring the map you would require in capturing & holding strategic points. These carry resource points which help in contributing to your demand. Remember in order to receive a constant flow of resources; all your territories must be well connected. Holding strategic points while playing this game in difficulty mode is like hell. Enemy A.I. swiftly starts capturing the resource points before annihilating your troops. Loss of ForwardHQ sometimes also lead to mission failure as you are cut-off from forward infantry & engineer squads supply. Make sure in keeping the base heavily defended from enemy retaliation.
The mechanics of both the allied & enemy A.I. is very impressive. Infantry squad acts decisively when attacked by MG-42 emplacement. They can be used to outflank the enemy post by either suppressive fire or by popping a grenade. When you deploy anti-tank gun units they act accordingly while facing enemy armor. Of course they are not eternal souls & while facing odds you need to balance your squad with mixed weapons especially when facing Panzer IVs & Tiger I tanks. The game also provides some necessary perks; the Commander Selection System. In campaign mode it provides you the opportunity to choose any one upgrade within allied infantry, airborne or armor company. This helps in necessary reinforcements & special upgrades to change the tides of war in your favor. While in skirmish mode if you are playing from German perspective you get the chance to choose any one of the three available doctrines; namely defensive, blitzkrieg & terror.
Visually Company of Heroes looks spectacular provided you have a killer rig to enjoy its potential. Since in-game feature provides option in panning the camera while zooming in or out the entire units look detailed & realistic. Interactive & destructible maps also provide depth which heightens the experience. Imposing symphonic soundtrack also helps in building the pace. Company of Heroes offers lots of challenge however with proper strategy & patience you can master this game. Relic Entertainment has really revolutionized the RTS genre & set its bar of excellence to new heights.