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Company of Heroes 2
Company of Heroes 2

Genre: Strategy
Developer: Relic Entertainment Official Site: http://www.companyofheroes.c...
Publisher: SEGA
Release Date:
25th June 2013
Company of Heroes 2

Genre: Strategy
Developer: Relic Entertainm...
Official Site: http://www.companyofh...
Publisher: SEGA
Release Date:
25th June 2013
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Company of Heroes 2 Review
Review By @ 11:00pm 21/06/13
When THQ went under, it was a depressing day for gamers, but even more so for PC enthusiasts. THQ was a company that still respected PC as a viable platform and, when the lights were finally shut off, it also meant the future release of three of the most exciting and diverse titles for 2013 were thrown into doubt; two of which were close to finish. There was the first-person sequel Metro: Last Light that looks stunning on PC, thankfully saved and rescued by Deep Silver; there was the comedic old-school RPG musings of South Park: The Stick of Truth, revived by Ubisoft; and last, but by no means least, the PC-exclusive strategy sequel Company of Heroes 2.

SEGA arrived on the frontline at the 11th hour to save Relic Entertainment’s promising RTS from tragic destruction and, despite several delays, its hour of release is finally nigh. Forget the Saving Private Ryan/Band of Brothers mirroring of the original Company of Heroes game, this time Relic Entertainment has expertly, authentically and, most important of all, respectfully set its story on the vicious struggles on the Eastern Front, as an aggressive Nazi Wehrmacht won early ground, was eventually subdued by a Russian winter, and finally repelled by the overwhelming numbers of the Soviet Army.

While veterans of Company of Heroes and its expansions will certainly find a lot of the formula familiar, Company of Heroes 2 is, in many ways, a very different beast to its preceding titles. Friendly units and enemy AI are less likely to ‘cheat’, with brutal Skirmish-level AI (which is now across all modes) that rarely tries the same unsuccessful tactic twice, and a game engine that actually respects objects that units can’t shoot through or over. All units spawn from a single designated spawn zone, negating any advantage for building troop-manufacturing structures closer to the front line, and you can no long convert buildings that can be garrisoned into frontline bases.

This means that keeping your units alive and tactically retreating them whenever relevant isn’t just advised, it’s essential to victory. The longer you keep your troops alive, the more they level up, meaning a three-star unit has better durability, firing rate and dishes out extra damage. Couple this with the presence of General Winter on frosty maps, and micro has never mattered more. General Winter is the Soviet name for the frostbite-inducing temperatures that Germans and Russians had to fight through, and it’s in full effect in Company of Heroes 2. Leave your troops out in the cold for too long, and they will freeze to death; and then there’s the sporadic appearance of blizzards which reduce freezing time and affect visibility. The appearance of a blizzard can all but halt the unprepared army, and it will also cover the footprints/tracks of enemy troop movements that allowed you to keep an eye on enemy movements pre-blizzard.

All of this is taught to you in meaningful ways throughout the campaign, but it’s well worth spending some time on the Tactics screen and going through the unfortunately static training videos that provide essential battlefield know-how. There is a single training mission that’s great for newcomers, but the real training takes place over the course of the campaign. Unfortunately, this is blatant in the first few missions, which act as obvious training scenarios, with very little evidence of the cunning enemy AI that kicks into full force later in the game.

The better missions are far more cunning in their training, but offer tactics—such as how to take down a heavy tank with infantry—that will be essential for standing a fighting chance in AI skirmish maps or, if you’re feeling brave, taking the fight online. Missions range anywhere from 20 minutes to, well, as long as it takes you to finish a map, depending on your strategies and how well you mix offensive and defensive capabilities. There were more than a few instances where I overzealously committed too many troops to a single area, only to have them wiped out by superior units, well-placed mortar rounds, or clever AI counter-attacks. Because of the level of micro troop management required, you really feel an awesome sense of accomplishment when attacking or defending across multiple frontlines.

Visually, Company of Heroes 2 both respects and surpasses the impressive visual standards set by the preceding titles. It’s just a shame the cutscenes also use the in-game engine, which makes them lose some of their emotional impact, given how unattractive things are from a cinematic perspective. During gameplay, though, it’s a guilty pleasure to zoom right in on the action, watching as a Katyusha rocket launcher fires off waves of rockets and, of course, the devastating aftermath of seeing those rockets hit. You won’t have much time to do this in the thick of things, but you will have time to take notice of the incredible soundscape. The team reportedly recorded authentic weapon sounds which translate beautifully, while moving your camera around in the fog of war is a viable tactic for hearing enemy movements.

Keeping track of your enemies is a crucial consideration, particularly when you take into account the genre-changing inclusion of Essence Engine 3.0’s TrueSight technology. This is a dynamic line-of-sight system that means units no longer have floating circles of what they can and can’t see, which aren’t interrupted by walls, buildings and smoke. Basically, if your units can’t see over an object, their line of sight will be broken in real time by anything that would obscure vision. This means that buildings are perfect for ambushes, making town areas dangerous places for vehicles to travel, while destroying vehicles will create a temporary smoke barrier that cannot be seen through. The fact that you can use heavy munitions to level buildings makes for a nice push and pull, but also means flattening an enemy’s defences with artillery means your units will not be able to take advantage of the same cover when you move in to take the territory. Forward thinking is always a must.

In this, the Company of Heroes series continues to separate itself from strategy titles such as StarCraft because it encourages dynamic tactics, a healthy balance of offensive and defensive tactics, and it isn’t about winning through sheer force of numbers. A single unit can change the course of a battle, as it did in my first 1v1 match-up against a Russian (seriously, he/she was from Russia) opponent playing as Wehrmacht. In a Victory Point map—where the objective is to count your opponents tickets down to 0 by holding a majority of three Victory Points—I dominated the early game with cheap Soviet troops, my opponent controlled the mid-game with mortars and heavy machinegun emplacements, and I ultimately won shortly thereafter by pushing an infantry-mincing APC and tank onto the field.

Even though my opponent was, assumedly, not in Australia (they didn’t seem to speak English on chat), the connection was smooth, and sporadic lag notifications were limited to sidebar text pop-ups, as opposed to intrusive warning windows that had to be manually interacted with to make them disappear. As someone who spent a lot of time in the closed beta and put some hours into the open beta (which is still currently available for download), Relic Entertainment has made a lot of subtle changes to improve balancing and ensure a reliable netcode. Unfortunately, it hasn’t included a server browser, which means you’re stuck making custom matches with friends or relying on a matchmaking system that may pit you against opponents well above or below your skill level thanks to a universal experience system.

The universal experience helps you unlock new commanders and other associated items, but the most controversial inclusion is different ‘Bulletins’ that can provide buffs to particular units once you’ve hit certain milestones. While the progression towards these Bulletins can be earned across modes, it really does seem to favour the player who sticks to a particular tactic, and also may result in an unfair competitive advantage down the track; particularly considering open beta progression counts towards the retail game.

While this point may ultimately prove to be a non-issue, there are a couple of odd glitches at play in an otherwise honed gameplay experience. Using hotkeys to jump between units consistently results in weird bouncing objects, and the Havok physics engine occasionally fails in hilarious ways. More disturbing though is the duality of save-game woes. You can’t save over old save games, meaning regular savers may have to think up new save-game names, while saving too frequently can really chew into the hard drive space because Company of Heroes 2 save files weigh in at around 30MB each.

These gripes really do pale in comparison to the overall achievement of a sequel that is absolutely well worth the wait. Even now, I can’t wait to finish this review and sink some more hours into the multiplayer which, coming from an avid admirer of the original games, is testament to how well Relic Entertainment has made a game for the fans, but also presented a whole lot more. The war for THQ may have been lost, but the posthumous battle for Company of Heroes 2 is a resounding victory that is, much like its predecessor, destined to impress for years to come.
What we liked
  • Incredible sound design
  • Gorgeous visuals
  • TrueSight is a genre changer
  • Respectful and authentic storytelling
  • Clever campaign structure for multiplayer tactics
  • Cunning enemy AI
  • True to the original, yet still feels fresh
  • A deep and personalised progression online system…
What we didn't like
  • …that may cause balancing issues down the track
  • Static training videos
  • First few missions are poorly disguised training
  • Save-game woes
  • Weird bouncing objects
  • In-game engine for cut-scenes
  • No server browser
We gave it:
Latest Comments
Posted 11:46pm 21/6/13
I've been playing the Beta of this game quite a lot and loving it, I think I might get it hey loving the online game play
Posted 02:01am 22/6/13
Unfortunately, it hasn’t included a server browser, which means you’re stuck making custom matches with friends or relying on a matchmaking system

'apparently' custom server browser will be in the full game (like coh1)

My quick review of COH2 MP for newbs who are interested:

CoH2 is fun – gameplay is so satisfying. It is missing a lot of features players of StarCraft have become accustomed to however it is still awesome fun to play online.

The game has base building but it is mostly focused on map control, unit positioning, and dynamic strategy.

There is no ‘win’ unit and you can’t sit on one base C&C style however you don’t have to be Korean to be good either.

IMO CoH2 is halfway between a MOBA and an RTS.

As someone who will only play the multiplayer I am disappointed with the lack of features I have become used to in RTS since the release of SC2.

If you enjoy RTS games and want to try to move from skirmish mode to online then this is the game to do it on. While you can't just sit in your base and build a massive army you at least only require a fraction of the APM required in SC and there is no economy to look after.

Here are the negatives:
- No decent replay system
- No option for searching for a game as 'random'
- No ladders (apparently using steam ladders in full release whatever they are)
- No mirror matchups on ladder/automatch
- No ability to know when steam friends are in a match or not (dota2 does this with steam)
- No indication of an opponents skill level like in SC2 or even COH1 when loading into a map
- Can't edit hotkeys

- lag issues are minimal
- integration for streaming which should encourage streams and competitive play
- Steamworks integration is at least better than the coh1 system full of smurfs
- despite some balance and gameplay mechanics that I disagree with the game is still fun sometimes infuriating to think how good it could be if Relic had Valve money.
- runs at high settings decent frames with a GTX470 and good frames at low settings with a gtx275
Posted 03:03am 22/6/13
"True sight is a genre changer"........ yea cuz thats new and all amiright?
Posted 07:30am 22/6/13
Cdkeysdirect has it for $42.99 USD ~ $49 AUD
Posted 03:38pm 22/6/13
Good thing I play skirmish. I have found the last few patches, it has made the AI harder and I get base rushed by the AI.
Posted 03:49pm 22/6/13
Greenmangaming has it for 45 with the code I think.
Posted 11:38pm 22/6/13
So much fun! Been having a ball.
Posted 01:33am 23/6/13
Should I play the first Company of Heros before playing this? To maximise CoH enjoyment time?
Posted 02:42am 23/6/13
if you are more interested in the single player - yes.

if multiplayer - no

often is on sale at steam or the THQ (though I guess SEGA now) store.

infact, pretty sure I have a spare cdkey you can add to steam. let me know if you dun have it and ill PM you.
Posted 07:35pm 23/6/13
Mostly interested in single player. I've already got it, picked it up in one of the steam sales, thanks though!

I'll get into it once I get my PC setup again.
Posted 07:37pm 23/6/13
I wish they would stop making the soviets so OP.
Posted 06:35pm 24/6/13
playing thru the sp of the expansions of the first one this past weekend to get up to speed with it again, 4 hours from now they reckon
Posted 06:43pm 24/6/13
Learn to Play PeterThePossumMan instead of just doing comp stomps on easy mode. Germans and Soviets are well balanced but there are some bugs in the game which need to be ironed out.
Posted 06:47pm 24/6/13
Learn to Play PeterThePossumMan instead of just doing comp stomps on easy mode. Germans and Soviets are well balanced but there are some bugs in the game which need to be ironed out.

I am playing again real players, not against bots. Soviets are OP and it's pretty much the consensus across the coh2 community.

Soviet MG's are overpowered. 6 men in the squad and they don't die even if you get behind them and shoot at them for 2 minutes. It takes 4 German rifle nades to kill them if you are lucky. Not to mention if they get into a building, you may aswell forget killing them because it takes up to 6 rifle nades to kill them.

Running around the building so the MG has to change direction doesn't work either, the 5 man support gunners on the MG actually kills your rifle squad before you can kill the MG as you are running around the building for a good 5 minutes. Motars don't hurt them in buildings either.

Buildings need to be nerfed big time.
Posted 07:12pm 24/6/13
i'm a complete newb to this, never played the first one

so i'm a massive learning curve right now but I have the patience and time for it
Posted 07:15pm 24/6/13
Soviet MG's are overpowered. 6 men in the squad and they don't die even if you get behind them and shoot at them for 2 minutes.
try snipers.
Posted 08:09pm 24/6/13
I only lost about 2-3 games over the weekend (out of maybe 15 or so). Played about 50/50 german/soviet.

Wish you could search for a game as random.
Posted 08:13pm 24/6/13
if pave or anyone wants to play some 2v2/3v3/4v4 vs some random c**** add me steam. I'm average skill level don't mind who play wiuth.
Posted 08:16pm 24/6/13
I'll add you ctd but as i said at the moment, totes newb

But i got the time to learn and i am keen to because it seems awesomew
Posted 08:24pm 24/6/13
That's cool man, I'm no pro but I can show you a few tips.
Posted 10:12pm 24/6/13
OzGameShop just sent out their keys, can't wait to try out the full catalog of maps and smash some Russian heads.
Posted 10:57pm 24/6/13
Game is supposed to be out tonight? Hoping they add some maps
Posted 11:08pm 24/6/13
Posted 11:11pm 24/6/13
every question I'm interested in gave the answers "hopefully soon" or "we will be looking into that possibility"...

Gah have to download the game again I think. probably the 100th time I have downloaded this game since alpha.
Posted 12:19am 25/6/13
add me i have bought the game _TiT_
Posted 12:20am 25/6/13
also my steam is updating so i think its out!
Posted 12:43am 25/6/13
Game is now unlocked. I am fighting back hoardes of German invaders.
Posted 10:25am 25/6/13
Added ctd and tit to steam this morning
Posted 11:51am 25/6/13
Cool dudes, should be good for games this week and weekend. Half way through buying some parts to upgrade PC as well. Hope to have this done for Friday to get my ultra settings awnnnnnn.
Posted 12:14pm 25/6/13
will be playing tonight!
Posted 12:21pm 25/6/13
If anyone hasn't added me before, frodzone is my Steam name I believe. More than welcome to badger me for a game.
Posted 12:48pm 25/6/13
My steam name is FartingLoudly - add me
Tanaka Khan
Posted 09:58pm 25/6/13
So what site is best to purchase a key from? Anything dodgy about cdkeysdirect or greenmangaming I should know about?
Posted 10:06pm 25/6/13
no they all should be good, i got my from as i had credit from when i cancelled my Simcity order
Posted 10:42am 30/6/13
my only criticism so far is that the opening sega logo screen should be like this:

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