|Dev: Relic Entertainment|
|Release: June 25, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Strong Language, Violence|
This is also one of the places in which the new cold weather mechanics of CoH2 come into play. Soldiers who spend too long in chilly weather will gradually decrease in temperature until they take damage and die of what is presumably hypothermia. This can be mitigated by keeping them in cover or constructing field structures, like fires, to restore infantry units’ warmth. It adds yet another layer of pressure to the game.
The bulk of Company of Heroes 2’s gameplay, though, is focused on its multiplayer mode. Matchmaking here is snappy and connections generally seem to be stable and fast. Battles can be one-on one or more; they go all the way up to four-on-four. For these battles, it’s possible to customize one’s army with different commanders and “intelligence bulletins,” which provide minor bonuses to specific units’ performance. More commanders are unlocked as one ranks-up in multiplayer, while most intelligence bulletins have both a rank requirement and a list of tasks that must be accomplished. There are also cosmetic alterations available in the form of vehicle skins, though those are of dubious utility.
Both armies can be customized separately in this way, and they play very differently, but based on my experience getting my rear handed to me regardless of which side of the war I fell on, it seems that there is a solid balance between the Germans and the Russians. As the game makes its way out into the wild and players spend more time with the armies, balance issues might become readily apparent and dominating strategies might be discovered. That’s what updates are for, though.
Really, there’s nothing that jumps out as wrong or underwhelming in Company of Heroes 2. From its scale and presentation to its pacing and balance, this is a game that has clearly been a labor of love on the part of its developers. That isn’t to say it’s wholly without flaws, but qualms such as steep system requirements and the lack of a truly compelling narrative seem somewhat weak in the face of the carefully crafted strategic, military gameplay proffered by the title.
That said, while it’s a very distinctive take on strategy that follows the unique model that the original Company of Heroes codified years ago, it isn’t the strategy game that will convert those who prefer less in the way of brain-melting, multitask-essential gameplay to the strategic fold. It is, in the end, a beyond competent, gorgeous, and well-crafted World War II strategy game. It may very well be the best WWII strategy game ever produced. It is, however, a game for those who already enjoy the genre, and particularly for those entranced by Company of Heroes’ hallmark approach to combat.
Date: June 26, 2013