Finally I get around to Reviewing this game… I had started to review this game a while back but in the middle of doing so my ATI 1900GT video card decided to die on me. After the video card died I put this review on the back burner and I’m just getting around to it now. So without further delay here is the review for Company of Heroes..
Company of Heroes is a World War II based Real Time Strategy game that has various ways you can play it. In the single player mode you have the option to play a campaign where you are in charge of Able company aka the allies and you have to make your way to Berlin. If you want to play against bots or play as the Axis you have the skirmish mode you can play. Finally if you want to play other humans you have the online portion of the game or you can play over a lan if you have one.
Below is a screen shot of the screen you see when you first load the game up.
First up for me is the Campaign mode, I played quite a few of the missions in the campaign mode and I got to say over all they did a pretty slick job on these missions. Any time you start or complete a mission you get to see a cut scene and this cut scene will tell the story of the mission your on and the importance of completing said mission.
Below is a screen shot I took after completing a mission and blowing up a v2 missile emplacement.
The skirmish mode is good for when you want to get ready to play online. With the skirmish mode you can make teams of Axis and Allies and assign how many bots will be on each team. Do note that if you get to many bots on the teams you will see performance issues with this game more on that later. Overall the skirmish mode is fun because you can play the way you want to. In this mode of play you can try different tactics and see how things pan out.
Below is a screen shot of the main skirmish setup screen.
While on the topic of the skirmish mode as you can see in the screen shot above you also have a tab for recorded games. A recorded game you get any time you finish a game and you have the option to save it. When you do save a recorded game you can go into the recorded game tab in the skirmish setup screen and view your recorded games. This feature is something every RTS game should have to come with. Being able to record your games you play and also being able to look at other peoples recorded games that you can download online provides a great way to learn from better players.
Below is a screen shot of a of the recorded games tab.
Last but not least you have the multiplayer / online portion of the game. This is probably the best game mode of all. As good as the single player campaign is there is nothing like playing another human being. The online portion of the game is well thought out for the most part. Its very easy to join games that people are hosting and just as easy to host your own games.
One thing I don’t quite get is the performance rating you will see on the main listing of current games that are being hosted online. My computer shows up with a performance rating of 1 and I think it goes to 5. When I run the in game benchmark this computer can run the game at about 60 frames per second and thats with settings that are fairly high in terms of graphics. It might be the case that the performance rating is based off your ping and maybe my router is blocking the ping request and thats giving me the low rating. This can be quite a problem because when some people see the rating of 1 for performance guess who gets kicked out of the game. Also while on the topic of the multiplayer some times when trying to connect to a game you get the error message that you couldn’t connect to all players and you get bounced back to the main game lobby. I really wish when they build error messages into games they could put a bit more thought into them and give people a better idea of what the problem is instead of saying you can’t connect to someone.
The overall performance once in the online multiplayer games seems quite good. I played several matches where it was 2vs2 and then some 3vs3 and I didn’t notice any lag at all when scrolling around the map. I’m not sure how the game responds in a 4vs4 battle since I could never find one of those that I could get into when I was testing the game. Not being able to find a game to play is another problem, I don’t know why but this game really doesn’t seem to have a lot of people playing it online for some reason. Every time I went to test out the multiplayer there were only like 5 or 6 games being played that I could join. Do to the lack of games I could join it made testing the multiplayer a long tedious process because a lot of the time your sitting around waiting for a game to start.
The overall lack of games that I could join online might have something to do with the fact the game has been out for a while now and maybe people are off playing other RTS games. Having said that this really isn’t a issue if you have some friends who also have this game and you can meet up online and play. As you can see in the screen shot below, when I took this screen shot there were only two games I could join at the time.
When you do get into the online portion of the game I think most people will be impressed with the game stat tracking it does on a per player basis. In the screen shot below you can see who was rated number 1 at the time of the screen shot and some other stats as well.
The only other thing I would like to talk about in regards to the online play is cheating. I know that some patches have been sent out and some of the exploits have been fixed but I’m wondering how long the company behind this game will keep issuing patches to stop cheaters. So far the game currently has had 10 patches issued for it. I’m all for seeing games get patched but 10 patches in a few months time seems like the game had some serious issues when it first come out. Good thing I give games some time before I go out and buy them.
Now on to the actual game play. For the most part this game operates like any other RTS on the market. One big difference with this game though is unlike a lot of RTS games where you spend most of your time base building with this game you are spending most of your time on the front line fighting and not to concerned about your main base. The reason why you don’t spend much time on base building is do to the fact you have to push forward to capture key points of any given map. For instance if you want to increases your population so you can build more units then you will need to take some ground and capture some key points on the map…
The actual ground units in the game all look great everything from the tanks right down to the men on the ground. There is nothing quite like seeing your guys shooting their flame throwers all over the place and seeing the enemy guys on fire as they run around and die. Couple other things that are different in this game is some of your guys for example can be heavy machine gunners but it takes a few guys to operate the heavy machine gun so these guys move in a group. If you tell the heavy machine gunners to shoot at something the guys will have to stop moving and setup up the machine gun and start shooting. Like wise if you want your guys to move some where after they have setup the heavy machine gun the guys will have to take down the heavy machine gun and start moving. So with this delay you get in the setups and take downs you have to use these guys wisely or else they get killed real fast because the only time they can defend them selfs is when they have the heavy machine gun deployed.
Below is a screen shot of the guys using the fame thrower.
Another cool thing you see when playing the game is the enemy will leave their weapons on the ground when they die and you can take your guys and capture the weapons and use them your self. This gives you some pretty good options for arming your guys considering you get quite a ways from your bases some times.
Like the population cap that can grow or shrink based on what parts of the map you have captured there is also command upgrades you get based on some key points you have to capture on the map along with the XP you get from killing guys. With these command upgrades you can get things like artillery strikes / air strikes and the like.
Most of the buildings in the game can be destroyed when they take enough damage. If your smart though you wont always destroy the buildings but instead load them up with snipers. A single sniper in the game can wreak major havoc on the enemy. One sniper can kill a lot of guys if you put him in the right spot.
The AI in the game at least on the normal setting is like any other RTS I have played. For example you can set up a bunch of machine gun nests and the enemy will just keep walking right into the gun fire and dieing all the time. You never see the AI do something unexpected like send a bunch of units to flank you once you have moved a ways up the map. I think its a shame that all these game companies focus their time on the graphics and little else in the game, I would have thought this many years in, the RTS games would have had way better AI then they did 10 years ago.
Two things about this game that will put people in awe when they see it, and they are the graphics of the game and also the physics in the game. The graphics in the game are very well done and there is nothing more funny then to call in a artillery strike and see all the enemy guys go flying threw the air when a shell lands on them. These good graphics and good physics though come at a price. This is a game where you need a fairly high end machine if you want to see the game looking good. If you want to see the game looking very good I hope you have a super computer because this game will need it. As you can see in the screen shot below this is the current graphic settings I’m playing the game under. So far with these settings the single player campaign runs fairly smooth but play a skirmish game with my self and 4 bots and I will see my frame rate drop down below 20 frames a second.
If you don’t have a super computer you do have a lot of graphic settings you can mess around with. The game even has its own benchmark built into the graphic settings so you can switch settings and see how that effects game performance. With the settings you see in the screen shot above I get about 60 frames a second in the benchmark.
As for the sound in game I’m happy with that. I’m not very fussy when it comes to sound as long as it sounds good and in stereo. One thing about the sound in this game is your guys on screen do swear from time to time so you might want to keep this in mind if you have kids around.
On the bad side of things I don’t have much to say. One thing I did notice though is the water in game looks way to shiny. Its like your looking into a river of mercury as the screen shot below will show. All the water I have seen in the game all looks the same to shiny.. I would have also liked to have seen better performance from the game as well. It seems to me all these game makers now a days make games that require computers that are 5 years out from the day the game is released onto the store shelf. It bothers me that I have to turn graphic options either down or off in order to get a decent frame rate during a skirmish game. The only other thing that really got on my nerves was the zoom out you get when you use the scroll wheel on the mouse. For me the maximum zoom out distance simply isn’t far enough. Countless times I was trying to zoom out further on the map to get a better picture of what the land is like and you simply can’t zoom out far enough.
Below is a screen shot of the shiny water in the game.
Below are the computer specs I run Company of Heroes on.
AMD 64 X2 4800
ASUS A8N-SLI DELUXE
GEFORCE 7950 GT/OC VIDEO CARD 512 MEG OF RAM
2 GIGS OF PC3200 RAM
2 MAXTOR 120 GIG 7200 RPM 8 MEG CACHE EIDE ATA 133 DRIVES
SOUND BLASTER AUDIGY SOUND CARD
In conclusion this is a game you probably want to purchase if you have the hardware to run it on. Those that don’t have good hardware are going to have turn the graphic settings way down to play this game. The other thing I wish was better is the amount of online games you can join… At the time of this article you could purchase Company of Heroes for $30.00 U.S.
If you would like more information on Company of Heroes you can get it from the Company of Heroes web site.
Below are a few extra screen shots of the game in action..