Companyofheroes_pcboxboxart_160w

Company of Heroes (CoH for short) is a Real Time Strategy game for the PC, first announced on April 25 2005. It is being developed by the RTS veteran, Canadian based developer, Relic Entertainment, and published by THQ. The Company of Heroes beta began on the 11th of July 2006.

Story

Company of Heroes is set during World War II where the player follows a fictional military unit, known as Able Company, as they fight their way through some of the greatest and bloodiest battles of World War II in the European theatre, including the D-Day landings at Normandy.

The developers have taken “creative liberties” with level design so the missions will fit better into the game. Objectives and town design will not be entirely accurate.

Gameplay

The game allows for multiplayer matches of 2 – 8 players via LAN or the Internet. Multiplayer will focus on teamwork as teams will share resouces and “sectors.” However further details on the multiplayer component are scarce with Relic designers merely stating that they are currently fine-tuning and polishing the multiplayer experience.

Company of Heroes also boasts a movie editor where you can save clips of the game in action then edit it to make your own World War II action movies.

Resources

Company of Heroes, in keeping with past Relic trends, attempts to revolutionize the RTS genre by introducing changes to the traditional resource model, eliminating as much micro-management as possible expanding on concepts from previous games and creating a more strategic and action-oriented RTS experience.

As such, the resource model found in Company of Heroes is similar to that of another Relic game, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War. This design sees players taking control of certain points on the map. The more of these points the player controls, the more resources they generate, and also increases their population cap allowing them to field more units. This forces players to constantly expand their territory instead of “turtling up” as the more territory you possess not only increases your power but decreases your opponent’s. This is encouraged further with the fact some areas produce more reasources then others, and these are often in the middle of the map making them sought after by both sides and once secured can significantly encourage the production rate of the controling player.

Unlike Dawn of War, each secured point represents an area and will only generates reasouces if it is linked to the controlling player’s HQ via addjacent connecting friendly areas establishing a supply route. Not only does this create a sense of realisim and territory ownership to the game, players can use this feature to cut off an opponents supplies by siezing control of critical linking locations to slow down their production until the player re-establishes the route. This allows both the battling and the resource-collecting to occur without seperate micromanagement.

Players will collect three resourses through this system: Fuel, Manpower, and Munitions. Fuel is required for building structures, tanks, vehicles and for most upgrades (as they are driven to the field) while Manpower is needed to produce almost everything (fortunately every secured area produces Manpower in addition to any other reasource it generates). Munitions are generally used to employ special abilities, such as throwing a grenade or firing off a smoke screen.

Units

Company of Heroes contains a variety of units ranging from squads to armored.

The Americans will have access to standard riflemen who will be equipped with M1 Garands, M1A1 carbines and may also be equipped with grenades, sticky bombs, or a Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR). Allied engineers can repair vehicles, plant mines, and can be equipped with a flamethrower or a minesweeper. Other Allied units include snipers, mortar teams, machine gun teams, M3 halftracks and M4 Sherman Tanks.

Units in CoH have the ability to seek out cover without orders from the player to give them an advantage over enemy forces. Units hiding in cover gain a defense bonus, making them more effective in combat. Utilizing cover effectively in CoH is essential to victory. The advanced AI will also be aware of its surroundings and react realistically in certain situations.

Because CoH features a physics engine, different types of cover will be more effective against certain units. A gravestone, for example, will provide fairly good cover against riflemen, while the same gravestone can be easily crushed or destroyed by a tank or mortar teams. Terrain will also change during the game, with craters providing new cover, and buildings being blown up and becoming useless as a defensive position.

See Company of Heroes Units for a list of all the units with build cost, upgrade cost, range damage, and weapon rankings.

Graphics

Company of Heroes is the first game to make use of Relic’s next generation engine, known as the “Essence Engine”. This engine was designed and coded from scratch by Relic in order to make use of all next-generation graphical effects, including High Dynamic Range lighting, dynamic lighting & shadows, advanced shader effects and normal mapping. As designer John Johnson puts it “we will have every advanced graphical effect you’d expect from a game like Half-Life 2, and more.”

Using the Essence Engine allows CoH to be rendered in complete 3D with exceptional detail on the infantry, vehicles and structures while retaining a solid frame-rate without the need for a high end gaming PC. There are said to be nearly 2,000 different animations for a basic infantry unit alone.

Company of Heroes also makes use of the Havok 3 Physics Engine, which allows CoH to accurately depict the physics of every in-game object. Certain parts of buildings can be blown up by grenades or mortars while tanks can simply plow though sections of walls. Because of the Havok Physics Engine, the smoke from the explosion, dirt, and building rubble will behave as realistically as possible. Smoke will billow as if it is being blown around by wind, muddy dirt will shower troops, and rubble will bounce and roll with accurate weight.

Awards

E3 2005 Game Critics Awards: Best Strategy Game