Company of Heroes 2 (PC) Box Art(http://www.companyofheroes.com)  Rated M for Mature by ESRB.  After years and years of absence, one of the best RTS games to grace the PC is back, with full guns blazing. I’m speaking, of course, about Company of Heroes 2, the well known World War II RTS. This time, Company of Heroes 2 has a primary focus on the Eastern front, with the Russians and Soviet forces taking the spotlight. The delay has been long worth the wait, however, since the final product Relic has put out is one not to be missed by any RTS fan. Indisputably, Company of Heroes 2 is one of the top RTS games I’ve played.

Company of Heroes 2 (PC) Box ArtCompany of Heroes 2 (PC) Logo(http://www.companyofheroes.com)  Rated M for Mature by ESRB.  After years and years of absence, one of the best RTS games to grace the PC is back, with full guns blazing. I’m speaking, of course, about Company of Heroes 2, the well known World War II RTS. This time, Company of Heroes 2 has a primary focus on the Eastern front, with the Russians and Soviet forces taking the spotlight. The delay has been long worth the wait, however, since the final product Relic has put out is one not to be missed by any RTS fan. Indisputably, Company of Heroes 2 is one of the top RTS games I’ve played.



Presentation:
Company of Heroes 2 features a new leveling system, where you’ll gain experience for completing battles online with or against friends, playing through campaign missions, or in the theatre of war missions. By leveling up, you’ll gain access to new customizable options for your troops and different perks to choose from. This new “loadout” system for Company of Heroes 2 is a fantastic addition, which really lets the player tailor their army to fit their game play style preferences. Company of Heroes 2’s story campaign is told through flashbacks by Abramovich Iskaovich, a Soviet lieutenant who is being interrogated by an army officer about his experiences during the war. Each campaign mission has three levels of difficulty, and some missions even have secondary objectives, proving some replay value. However, the CG cut scenes used to tell the “story”, are disappointingly dated and crude-looking. They’re not terrible, but they just look like cut scenes from the early 2000’s. Also, the main story isn’t much of a story, but instead just relies on retellings of different battles. This is sufficient for an RTS game, though, especially since the real fun of Company of Heroes 2 lies in the gameplay itself. The battles in the campaign also put you in some iconic Soviet battles, which were revealing to play through, and see for yourself how relentless they were about tossing men at the enemy, no matter the losses.

Company of Heroes 2 (PC) Screenshots   Company of Heroes 2 (PC) Screenshots   Company of Heroes 2 (PC) Screenshots

Graphics:
After playing through a few skirmishes and campaign levels, I was vastly impressed by Company of Heroes 2’s attention to detail on a graphic level. In one mission, I set fire to some houses and fields to stop advancements of troops through those areas. Even after lighting fire to them, the fires crackled and spread across the environment, leaving behind glowing embers and burnt lands. Another impressive visual feature is that Company of Heroes 2 has a new weather system, specializing in cold-weather conditions, since the Eastern Front battles were fought in some harsh winter climates. Trees will be covered in frost, your troops and vehicles will leave tracks in the snow, and you’ll even see holes in the ice appear where you directly shot at (which can provide for some devious battle tactics). With my PC set up, I had Company of Heroes 2 running at a steady 1080p at 60 fps, and it never really chugged, even when there were mass numbers of troops on the screen. Relic Studios just paid such fine attention to detail in Company of Heroes 2, and I praise them on that, because everything looks fantastic. From the detailed maps and weather environments, to the damaging effects from shells and artillery, it takes you into a world that you would swear was real.

Company of Heroes 2 (PC) Screenshots   Company of Heroes 2 (PC) Screenshots   Company of Heroes 2 (PC) Screenshots

Sounds:
The sounds of war are mostly what you’re going to be hearing while playing Company of Heroes 2–the sounds of soldiers screaming and yelling, machines and trucks motoring their way across the battlefield, and even smaller noises such as the cracking of ice, or the gusts of a snow storm. Each sound is on an equal level of detailed quality, which works to immerse you into the battlefield at play, all the more. The voice acting work done on each of the troops is also well done, and the European accents sound genuine, too. I will post a small disappointment regarding the voice acting work in the campaign cut scenes, which just doesn’t seem very emotional or well-executed. However, that could just be a side-effect of it being paired with such unappealing visuals.

Company of Heroes 2 (PC) Screenshots   Company of Heroes 2 (PC) Screenshots   Company of Heroes 2 (PC) Screenshots

Gameplay:
Singleplayer
The campaign missions and theater of war missions offered by Company of Heroes 2 are the primary forms of single player gameplay modes. Both are highly entertaining, and I enjoyed the steady learning curve in the campaign missions offered.  Each campaign mission will implement new elements for the player to learn about, such as engineers, vehicles, mines, or other offense and defensive tactics. The campaign also offers secondary objectives as well, such as saving civilians, or keeping certain squads alive throughout the battle. The majority of the battles in the campaign won’t be the typical “build your base and attack” kind of scenario; that’s what the skirmishes and theatre of ware mode are for. The AI handles battles well, and they’ll get more strategic as you ramp up the difficulty, but the AI really shines in skirmish modes and not so much during the campaign. In the campaigns they have scripted areas to go and units to build, whereas in the skirmishes they’re free to do as they please. I will say that in the skirmish battles, the AI is a very tough challenge that I had a hard time defeating.

Multiplayer
With this new load out system and leveling up system implemented into Company of Heroes 2, I found myself coordinating with my friends online over what commanders we were each using, what perks we all had, and other tactics like that. It was something we had all never done before, and it was another neat addition to Company of Heroes 2. It made us feel like we all had our own sort of specialty on the battlefield–rather than each of us just producing one type of unit, we now had advantages with those units, instead.  Connections online were smooth and had few hiccups, and my friends and I were able to connect to other players without much trouble. There are endless hours of fun to be had online in Company of Heroes 2’s multiplayer mode, as well as good incentive to play, since it will earn you experience points.

Company of Heroes 2 (PC) Screenshots   Company of Heroes 2 (PC) Screenshots   Company of Heroes 2 (PC) Screenshots

Conclusion:
It’s hard to put a “completion time” on a RTs game, since they usually get the most play time and are so popular for online play and at LAN parties. Company of Heroes 2 is worth every cent though, and is definitely one of the better RTS games out there for PC players. Even if you don’t enjoy playing against other players, the theatre of war and campaign levels are plenty of fun on their ow–but just don’t expect much from the quality of the story being told. No matter what mode you’re playing on, Company of Heroes 2 is easily one of the most entertaining and engaging RTS games I’ve played. The graphics are top notch (in game), the destruction of battlefield environments adds plenty of new strategies, and the winter environments are a totally new twist on typical RTS tactics. Company of Heroes 2 perfectly blends what fans loved about the old series, with some new elements that fans are sure to love, as well. 

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