E3 2012: Company of Heroes 2 (Impressions)

by: Travis -
Sequel to the original, much-beloved real-time strategy game, Company of Heroes 2 from developer Relic Entertainment and publisher THQ transitions to the Eastern Front in World War II with an assortment of innovative and entertaining features for the series and genre. At our appointment with THQ, we were shown pre-alpha footage that showcased new gameplay and visual improvements added with Essence Engine 3.0.

The attention to detail has expanded even further with the inclusion of high quality models and dynamic environment surfaces. Unit detail has improved tremendously from the previous game with models that now include small features, such as individual fingers. The Eastern Front's harsh landscape plays a vital role with how Russian and German infantry react to the environment. Snow within the game world is simply not a texture, but an actual dynamic layer that's placed over the landscape. Infantry soldiers will slow down as they wade through patches of deep snow; which in turn provide opportunities for ambushes and strategic advantages. In addition to the hazards of snow, patches of ice will cause armored vehicles to spin out of control as tracks and wheels lose traction.

Gameplay has also received numerous upgrades from the ability to burn down buildings with flame throwers to a vaulting system for cover. The most significant and impressive feature added to gameplay is the new TrueSight system. In traditional real-time strategy games, the fog of war simply functions as a static circle for every unit. With the TrueSight system, each unit is given a dynamic field of view that interacts with objects and landscape features in the game world. The new sight system allows for sneak attacks and ambushes to be performed by the player and even computer AI. The simple element of smoke can now create disastrous situations in combat for infantry and armored units. Players will need to take into account the small viewing sights of armored vehicles when maneuvering through the battlefield.

Company of Heroes 2 is even more stunning than the previous game with improved visuals and sound effects. The visuals have changed dramatically from farms and fields to a frozen tundra of hell. The Eastern Front's brutality is infused in each aspect of the game's visuals from tank tracks in the snow to ground-shattering explosions. As well, the game's sounds effects have received an immense upgrade from live recordings of all the German and Soviet infantry weapons. From striking visuals to authentic sound effects, the presentation quality continually amazed me throughout the game's demonstration.

With massive gameplay upgrades and a vastly-improved presentation, Company of Heroes 2 is aiming to introduce innovative features to the series and the real-time strategy genre itself. Dig a foxhole in the frigid landscape of Russia and prepare for an onslaught of Germans when Company of Heroes 2 is released in 2013 for Windows PC.

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