Company of Heroes 2
||This article may require copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone, or spelling. (June 2013)|
|Company of Heroes 2|
|Series||Company of Heroes|
|Engine||Essence Engine 3.0|
Company of Heroes 2 is a real-time strategy video game developed by Relic Entertainment and published by Sega for the Microsoft Windows platform. It is the sequel to the critically acclaimed 2006 game Company of Heroes.
As with the original Company of Heroes, the game is set in World War II but with the focus on the Eastern Front, with players going primarily on the side of the Soviet Red Army on various stages of the campaign, from Operation Barbarossa to the Battle of Berlin. Company of Heroes 2 runs on Relic Entertainment's proprietary Essence 3.0 game engine, which THQ claims allowed the developer to bring "new technological advancements" to the game. In January 2013, Sega acquired Relic Entertainment and along with it the Company of Heroes intellectual property from THQ. The game was released on June 25, 2013 in North America and Europe. The game caused a strong negative reaction from the Russian speaking players and was subsequently withdrawn from distribution by the Russian game publisher 1C-Softclub.
Company of Heroes 2's game engine is mostly retained from that of the first game.
The resource-generation system from the first game has been modified. Players will still capture specific flagged points all over the map to collect manpower, munitions, and fuel credits, which will be invested in assembling their units. Instead of the soldier units actually gathering at the flagged point itself, capturing the point is possible if the player's units are inside a specific zone with no enemy units in sight. Instead of predefined manpower, munitions, and fuel credits, players can customize the flag points to be either one of the three types. The accumulation of these resources and the size of the player's army can be much faster if players capture various flagged points all over the map. The resource intake and population cap will be curtailed if the opposing side captures one point that isolates adjacent points from other allied sections in the map.
Units can occupy a civilian building and use it as a temporary strongpoint. However, the occupants can be flushed out through attacks by artillery or soldiers using flamethrowers and grenades. The building-damage system from Company of Heroes is retained and enhanced; wooden buildings set afire will continue burning until they are reduced to cinders.
The Soviets' main structure is the Regimental Field Headquarters, which is used to produce conscripts and field engineers. The Special Rifle Command, Support Weapon Kampaneya, Mechanized Armor Kampaneya, and the Tankoviy Battalion Command are the respective Soviet equivalents of the original game's barracks, weapons support center, vehicle center, and tank hall. A field hospital can help treat seriously injured soldiers.
The German Ostheer's main structure is the Kampfgruppe Headquarters. Like the Wehrmacht's Reich Headquarters of the first game, the structure is upgradeable to up to three Phases at a cost in manpower and fuel; this in turn unlocks the other Ostheer structures – the Infanterie Kompanie, the Leichte Mechanized Kompanie, the Support Armor Korps, and Heavy Panzer Korps.
The combat system in Company of Heroes 2 remains much the same as the original.
Combat includes controllable units that are recruited and ordered directly by the player (through the user interface at player-controlled buildings, or through a doctrine ability), as well as activated support actions, such as artillery bombardment or aircover suppression. Every controllable unit type, whether infantry or vehicle, has an associated construction cost and recruitment time, as well as a range of fighting abilities. Vehicles and infantry can eventually be upgraded by purchasing specific capabilities. Upgrades generally improve the unit's effectiveness. Some upgrades are global, granting immediate benefits to all deployed units, while others must be purchased on a unit by unit basis.
Most combat takes place through direct, line-of-sight engagements. As with the original Company of Heroes, colored dots will show locations that provide varying degrees of cover for soldiers and support units. Soldiers can also climb over low terrain obstacles such as fences and walls. Players can also commandeer unoccupied vehicles or abandoned vehicles that have not been completely destroyed.
The game's veterancy system allows player units to gain more combat experience and improved fighting ability. The promotions are visible through an experience bar under a picture of the selected unit, which gains up to three stars if it is filled.
Both factions can use half-track personnel carriers and base buildings to replenish lost infantry. In the Red Army, under-strength foot units can be reinforced in the field with conscript squads by merging them, whilst in the German Ostheer, bunkers can be customized to reinforce squads.
Crew-served weapons such as anti-tank cannons and handheld weapons like light machine guns can also be manned by friendly troops or captured by enemy troops once the weapon's original crew is killed.
The game also offers the player a chance to complete side quests in a mission, which are denoted by an inverted triangle icon.
As the Red Army deployed large numbers of conscripts during the war, the campaign enables players to call in Frontoviki Conscript Squads to chosen positions in the map. They will still count towards the player's current population cap. A bar above the map display gradually fills up as the player continues to deploy Frontovik soldiers after the previously-deployed troops are killed or scrapped. A full bar will see the Frontoviks upgraded to deployments from the Red Army's penal battalions.
The game's Essence 3.0 engine introduces the TrueSight system, which aims to better emulate troop visibility in real combat. In contrast to overhead visibility seen in other strategy games, TrueSight more accurately represents a unit's visibility range based on environmental conditions and type of unit.
Weather conditions are a major factor in Company of Heroes 2's gameplay, under the new ColdTech weather-simulation system. Since many battles in the Eastern Front occurred in winter weather, troops can die of frostbite if caught in the outside during severe weather; a thermometer-shaped bar to the left side of the unit icon denotes a soldier's body temperature. The soldiers can recover their body heat if they are close to a bonfire or have found a building to shelter in. Players moving through deep snow will move at a reduced speed unless they are on a road; their footprints are also visible to the enemy. Certain maps have frozen bodies of water, allowing for more movement options. However, players face the danger of being attacked from the other side; as a result, the ice can buckle under the weight of the units in movement or shattered by explosions.
Theater of War
The game introduces the "Theater of War", a series of single-player and cooperative missions detailing various aspects of the Eastern Front campaign from both German and Soviet sides. Eighteen missions set in 1941 will be part of the game upon release with the missions from 1942 onwards available as downloadable content. The first of these offerings is Case Blue, a package only free to players who have preordered and Red Star editions of the game, featuring the Axis forces during the Fall Blau campaign on the Eastern Front. Game developer Quinn Duffy said the rich history of World War II on the Eastern Front is an opportunity to show other stories from the war.
Company of Heroes 2's campaign also tackles Joseph Stalin's Order No. 227, which (as interpreted by the game) prohibits retreating except under the direction of senior officers. Starting from the fourth mission set in Stalingrad, Order 227 will be in effect if the player deploys Frontoviki Squads. A time bar appears on the left side of the map display; for that duration, players must not have their soldiers go into full retreat back to headquarters. An NKVD commissar will appear out of the headquarters facility and kill them one by one unless the soldiers get back to the battlefield.
Relic has released downloadable content for the game aside from the Theater of War packs. Players can purchase new commanders packages that offer additional units and abilities, which have distinct advantages over players who did not buy them. For example for buying the German Commander: Elite Troops Doctrine, a player can field a "Tiger Ace" - a Veteran 3 Tiger Tank. Other commanders like the German Commander: Mechanized Assault Doctrine allow you bring out Assault Grenadiers immediately which basically out gun any soviet infantry for the first few minutes of the game.
Cosmetic upgrades are available through vehicle skins and new avatars for the player's account.
The game's story focuses on the Eastern Front campaign as narrated through flashbacks by Lev Abramovich Isakovich, a Soviet Army lieutenant locked up at a gulag in Siberia in 1952. An Army colonel – his old commanding officer – interrogates him about his experiences during the war.
THQ first announced the sequel to the acclaimed Company of Heroes in May 2012. THQ executive vice president of core games Danny Bilson noted that the publisher will continue working on Company of Heroes 2 following its launch next year. He said gamers can expect a "strong post-launch support digital content plan that enhances and expands the product's lifecycle." On December 19, 2012, publisher THQ filed for bankruptcy just after postponing the release date of the video game. The following month, on January 23, 2013, it was announced that THQ had sold Relic Entertainment to Sega for US$26.6 million as part of an auction of the company's properties in result of the bankruptcy.
On March 6, 2013, Sega announced that Company of Heroes 2 would be released in North America and Europe on June 25, 2013. A few weeks later, the company announced that the first closed beta will begin April 2, 2013. The open beta was released to the public on June 4, 2013 after the stress tests and the closed beta sessions were finished.
The game has received generally positive reviews. PCWorld gave the game 3.5 out of five stars. PC Gamer rated the game at 80 concluding that "Company of Heroes 2 is the USSR of real-time strategy games: huge, powerful and just a little bit broken." IGN gave the game a 8.4, saying "More sequel-sized expansion than true successor, Company of Heroes 2 repeats many of the original Company of Heroes feats. GameSpot gave the game 7.5 out of 10.
The game drew criticism from different players for a negative portrayal of the Soviet Army during the Second World War. In a 25 minute video, Russian video blogger "BadComedian" felt that the game portrays their war effort in a negative light, taking issue with multiple in game examples including portrayals of brutality, inhumane tactics and national stereotypes and clichés, especially when compared to the positive portrayal of the Americans in the first Company of Heroes. A similarly negative review was written by Ukrainian game developer Sergey Galyonkin who in his blog felt that the game "for some reason attributes Nazi war crimes to Soviet Army", going on to say that it "paints the Soviet Army as a fantasy evil empire. Mordor of World War II if you will." The controversy led to a "review bomb" in protest of said portrayals through the review site Metacritic, giving it an overall low user score.
In an article written for video game website Polygon by Colin Campbell reflecting on the subject said that the "comments on forums and on Metacritic are testament to the strong feelings that the war still generates". In the same article, it cites the game's director Quinn Duffy who in regards to the creative direction of the first and second game felt that "the second game is painted on a broader canvas", whereas "in contrast, the first game focused on a small group of soldiers and did not seek to take a wider view".
Russian game publisher 1C-Softclub stopped distribution of the game on 26 July 2013 due to the strong negative feedback. Following the news, the game's publisher SEGA released a statement that they were "taking this issue very seriously and are investigating these concerns thoroughly with all relevant partners."
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