Company of Heroes
|Company of Heroes|
|Platform(s)||Microsoft Windows, OS X|
Company of Heroes is a 2006 real-time strategy video game developed by Relic Entertainment and published by THQ for the Microsoft Windows and OS X operating systems. It was the first title to make use of the Games for Windows label.
Company of Heroes is set during the Second World War and contains two playable factions. Players aim to capture strategic resource sectors located around the map, which they use to build base structures, produce new units, and defeat their enemies. In the single-player campaign the player commands two U.S. military units during the Battle of Normandy and the Allied liberation of France. Depending on the mission, the player controls either Able Company of the 29th Infantry Division's 116th Infantry, or Fox Company of the 101st Airborne Division's 506th PIR.
Company of Heroes received widespread acclaim, winning multiple awards for the best strategy game of the year. Two expansions were released for the game, the first one named Opposing Fronts in 2007, and the second one titled Tales of Valor in 2009. A free-to-play massively multiplayer online version of the game, Company of Heroes Online, was briefly released as open beta in South Korea in April 2010, before being cancelled in March 2011.
The success of the game led to a sequel, Company of Heroes 2, which was released in 2013. As of January 2013, the whole Company of Heroes series has sold more than 4 million copies worldwide. There was also a film adaptation, starring Tom Sizemore.
- 1 Gameplay
- 2 Plot
- 3 Development
- 4 Expansions
- 5 Reception
- 6 Sequels
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Players must take control of certain points on the map. The more of these points a player controls, the more resources they acquire. This concept demands constant expansion of a player's territory. These points are connected like supply lines, and so, during the course of a battle a player can capture one point in the supply line, isolating the rest which had been connected to the base through it, therefore reducing the enemy's resource intake.
Players collect three resources: manpower, munitions, and fuel. Manpower is necessary to produce all units. Munitions allows players to upgrade individual squads or vehicles and use special abilities. Fuel allows players to purchase tanks and other vehicles, build base buildings and acquire global upgrades. The player can decide, at a manpower cost, to place observation posts on any captured resource points in order to increase the point's production by 40% and make them more durable against enemy takeovers; this means sacrificing resources in the short-term for a greater long-term intake. Resource points must also be connected as any unconnected captured points can not produce resources.
Units can occupy a civilian building and convert it into a field barracks, allowing certain units or squads to be created by that building, thus allowing a forward unit production and reinforcement point.
Medic stations can also be built on the field to house medics, who can recover fallen soldiers from the battlefield and return them to the medic station. When enough soldiers are recovered by medics (4 for Germans and 6 for American), they are formed into a combat ready squad by the medic station at no expense of manpower; however, the player must have room for the returned soldiers.
Infantry units can also occupy buildings and use them as cover or a garrison to protect against attack, but this limits their firing range because the infantry are a stationary, immobile target, rendering them vulnerable to sniper fire, grenade/satchel charge attacks as well as being easy to surround. Also, while garrisoned, infantry units can only shoot out of windows or holes blown into a building. Certain weapons are immensely effective against units holed up in a building; satchel charges or infantry-carried rocket launchers can demolish a building, tank fire can blast the building, and infantry or tanks armed with flamethrowers can set the building on fire and burn out the occupants, and finally artillery. However, there are advantages; infantry are well protected from small arms and most buildings are sturdy enough to stand up to limited tank fire before collapsing. Company of Heroes was one of the first World War II strategy games which introduced dynamic building destruction which took advantage of the physics engine used to make the game. For example, if a tank was concentrating its fire on one position of a building near the bottom, then the whole building (once its "health" was completely depleted) would collapse in that specific area first and then the rest of the building would follow.
Occupied buildings can be destroyed after taking fire from enemy units or any other attack, like artillery fire or demolition charges. Civilian buildings cannot be repaired or rebuilt. However, both the Allied and German forces can construct garrisonable buildings (the Allies can build a .30 caliber machine gun nest, while the Germans can construct bunkers).
The Americans can build a barracks and weapons support center to deploy infantry (foot soldiers), a motor pool and tank depot for tanks, vehicles and anti-tank guns. The triage center can heal nearby units that have been wounded from enemy fire. A supply yard is also required to be built before building a motor pool or tank depot which enables upgrades to reduce costs of infantry and tanks.
The Germans can build a variety of structures. The Wehrmacht quarters, Krieg barracks and Sturm armory lets players create infantry. The Wehrmacht Quarters and Krieg Barracks can build light vehicles and other infantry, while the Sturm Armory and the Panzer Command deploys German tanks at the player's disposal.
The Germans can also build Kampfkraft Centre(s) in order to increase veterancy levels.
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 researching 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.
In addition to units which engage in direct (line-of-sight) combat, both powers can build mortar and artillery units, which engage enemies at standoff distance through indirect fire. Indirect fire is characterized by a long time of flight to target, and low accuracy, but possesses a wide area of effect. It is particularly effective against massed infantry and light vehicles, but less hazardous to armored vehicles. A perfectly coordinated artillery strike can turn the tide of a battle, while a poor one can inflict significant friendly-fire casualties.
Most combat takes place through direct, line-of-sight engagements. For small arms fire from infantry units, weapon accuracy and range are factored into the damage calculation. Cover, which can be gained from map terrain, occupying a building, or an adjacent armored unit (such as an anti-tank gun), factors heavily into the calculation. Cover does not provide any protection against most types of indirect attacks (grenade, mortar, artillery), or specialized anti-personnel weapons (accurate sniper fire, flames.) Vehicles also receive cover, though through much more complicated mechanics, usually resulting in survivability bonuses - not unlike their infantry counterparts. In addition to range and accuracy, the direction of fire also has a major impact on the damage a vehicle takes, especially if weak spots are targeted, such as the rear armour of a tank. A head-on shot into the glacis of the tank will do much less damage than a shot to the side, or a direct shot into the rear of the hull. Although terrain cover does not offer the same protection for vehicles as it does for infantry, obscuring terrain increases the difficulty of scoring a target hit by reducing the target's exposed profile. Thus, combat outcome is as much a function of tactical deployment and battlefield terrain as it is of unit composition.
Crew-served weapons can also be manned by friendly troops or captured by enemy troops once the weapon's crew is killed; this includes machine guns, mortars and anti-tank guns from both sides. It also applies to handheld weapons.
Represented by the United States Army, this faction boasts cheap, versatile units. Veterancy is earned through the act of combat; units gain veterancy as they kill more enemy units and buildings. American infantry units are slightly more numerous than their Wehrmacht counterparts, but are generally less effective in a straight fight, and rely on upgrades and abilities to gain the edge in a fight. American vehicles and tanks, while lacking in raw power, are generally faster and capable of various support tasks. The Sherman tank, for example, can clear mines using an obtainable mine flail.
- Infantry Company: Centered around defense and infantry support, this type of company allows players to train infantry and build defenses faster, employ heavy artillery, and call in reinforcements such as the elite US Army Rangers, or a randomized group of units with the "Battalion Reinforcement". It is best for defensive players.
- Airborne Company: Centered on air support, this company type allows players to deploy paratroopers, call in recon planes, and enjoy the destructive capabilities of the P-47 Thunderbolt fighter-bomber. It also allows for hit and run tactics and is generally recommended for players on the offensive.
- Armor Company: Centered on vehicles and armor support, this type of company is slow to gain strength, but boasts powerful abilities, such as improved vehicle production, vehicle field repairs, the Sherman Calliopes and the powerful M26 Pershing heavy tank.
Represented by the German Wehrmacht (Heer), this faction employs a wider range of units than the Americans. Wehrmacht units are generally more expensive and powerful, but also more rigid and ill-equipped beyond their intended roles. For the Wehrmacht, veterancy is not earned, but "bought" at their Kampfkraft Centre. Wehrmacht infantry range from simple Volksgrenadier squads to elite Knight's Cross Holders. Their armor, likewise, also gives players the choice between Flak Panzers, the Panzer IV or the powerful Panther Tank. Their force is rounded out by a few more specialized tanks and powerful support units such as officers and Nebelwerfer rocket batteries.
- Defensive Doctrine: Centered on artillery and defense, this doctrine allows base structures to defend themselves against Infantry, offers bonuses for defending infantry, and allows players to call in rocket barrages and deploy the powerful Flak 88 cannons.
- Blitzkrieg Doctrine: Centered on speed and offensive operations, this doctrine allows players to speed up their military and economy, and allows players to deploy powerful assault units such as Stormtroopers and the Tiger I.
- Terror Doctrine: Centered on psychological warfare and destructive power, this unusual doctrine provides players with die-hard infantry and the ability to rout the enemy, be it with propaganda, devastating V1 rockets, or a single, powerful Tiger Ace (which has since been replaced in patches by the King Tiger tank).
For Company of Heroes, Relic began using a new online matchmaking system called Relic Online. Previous Relic games had used GameSpy Arcade or World Opponent Network services. This new system includes many features that the previous systems did not have, including a built in automatch and ranking system.
Relic Online matchmaking has been recently shutdown. In order to play multiplayer users must transfer the game to Steam.
This game allows multiplayer matches of 1-8 players via LAN or the Internet. The new steam version does not allow for LAN matches.
Company of Heroes allows players to fight as both the Allied and Axis forces in multiplayer matches.
Victory Point Control
These games focus on controlling several victory points around the middle of the map. These victory points can be captured similarly to strategic points. When one side has more victory points under their control than another, the other side's "points" start to decrease. When one side's counter runs out of points, they lose. Alternatively, the player can simply destroy all enemy structures to win the game. Before the start of the game, the host can choose between 250, 500, or 1000 points. The point function in Company of Heroes works much like the ticket feature in the Battlefield series.
Annihilation games lack the victory points of the VPC game mode. To win, the player needs to destroy all enemy buildings excluding observation posts on points.
The single-player campaign puts the player in some of the major American operations during the Battle of Normandy.
The game begins with Able Company's assault at Omaha Beach during the Normandy landings (D-Day) of Operation Overlord. Able Company must first breach the Atlantic Wall, then take out German bunkers overlooking the beach, and finally disable three 88 mm Flak 36 guns shelling the beach. The game also introduces two of the game's major characters: Captain MacKay and Sergeant Conti.
Battle of Carentan
The next three missions are about Fox Company and their actions during the capture and defense of Carentan. On the night before D-Day, Fox Company must first regroup after the chaotic and hectic airdrops at the crossroads near Vierville, then disrupt enemy operations in rear areas by opening new drop zones, prevent the Germans from reinforcing the beaches by securing the road link, and destroying a convoy from the 91st Grenadiers.
After D-Day, Fox Company is then tasked to capture the town of Carentan to secure a link between Utah and Omaha Beach and to defend it against the expected German counterattack. Though constantly bombarded by artillery and under siege by the 6th Fallschirmjäger Regiment and elements of the 17th SS Panzergrenadiers with StuG assault guns, Fox Company is eventually relieved when Able Company with elements of the 2nd Armored Division arrives at the town and the link is finally secure.
Battle of Cherbourg
Able and Dog Companies form the spearhead of the Allied advance to secure Cherbourg and its deep-water port. En route to Cherbourg, Allied supply routes are threatened by elements of the Panzer Lehr Division commanded by Hauptmann Schultz, and Dog Company is ambushed in the process. Able Company drives the Germans back and defend the supply route for the Red Ball Express to pass through, but earns the enmity of Schultz and the Panzer Lehr for the rest of the campaign.
With the flank secure, the Allies continue to advance onto Cherbourg. Able and Dog Companies, supported by the 4th Cavalry and the USS Texas, are tasked with capturing the port facilities. Although Able successfully subdues the German defenders and holds thousands of prisoners, the port has been badly damaged and is unusable to the Allies.
Despite the empty victory, Able Company finds documents from an Axis bunker which shows a V-2 rocket launch site near Sottevast. Fox Company has been called in to conduct an airborne assault on the V-2 facility, while elements of Able Company rush to the site with armor support. The site is destroyed but Fox Company is seriously depleted.
American forces begin to approach the city of Saint-Lô and Able Company begins approaching from the north. German defenders at St. Fromond hope to stop Able's advance by blowing up the only bridge leading into the town. Able Company is able to repair the bridge under fire from across the river, and drives the Germans out of the town. German defenders regroup and organize several counterattacks with Nebelwerfer support, but all assaults against Able Company are thrown back with heavy casualties.
The Panzer Lehr mauls Charlie Company while attempting to secure Hill 192 at the outskirt of Saint-Lô. Able Company is assigned to take the hill. Hedgerows around the hill and hidden Flak 88 batteries provide a formidable defensive position against the Allies, but Able Company breaks through by employing bulldozer-equipped Crocodile Sherman tanks to plow through the hedgerows and flank the Germans.
The German defenders at Saint-Lô decide to hold out against American forces by heavily fortifying the city center, but Able Company plans to surround and trap the German defenders at the city center rather than a head-on assault. Although the operation is successful, some German units, including the Panzer Lehr division, manage to escape destruction. Able Company calls in the Eighth Air Force in response and the escaping German units suffer heavily due to carpet bombing.
Badly reduced and under constant air attack, the shattered Panzer Lehr Division is chased by American forces, with Able Company managing to intercept what is left of the division at Hébécrevon. A raid is conducted with fast moving M10 tank destroyers against the Panzer Lehr's positions, and almost all of its armor strength, including the last seven surviving Panther tanks, are completely wiped out. However, during the course of the mission, Captain MacKay is killed by a Tiger I under Schultz's personal command.
MacKay's death puts newly promoted Lieutenant Conti in command of Able Company, which has been pulled off the line and reassigned to relieve Dog Company at Hill 317 near Mortain. Unfortunately, the respite is only short, as Mortain becomes the focal point of a new German counterattack. Surprised and outnumbered, Able Company is forced to hold the hill until reinforcements can arrive in the morning.
Dog Company arrives with armor support and Able Company digs in and consolidate their positions. German forces renew the counterattack in force after their surprise night attack failed to take the hill, but all attempts are beaten back. Able Company successfully forces the Germans to retreat after inflicting heavy losses, including the destruction of a Flak 88 battery.
The last section of the single-player campaign deals with the destruction of German forces in the Falaise region. After suffering a string of defeats, the German Seventh Army is forced to retreat in order to avoid encirclement. Allied forces are racing to trap the Germans before they can escape. Baker Company is assigned to shut down one of the escape routes at Autry, but Schultz's Panzergruppe, which escaped the destruction of the Panzer Lehr division, annihilates them. Able Company rushes to the scene with an M26 Pershing tank and destroys Schultz's Panzergruppe in return. Schultz's Tiger is among those tanks destroyed in the battle.
Chambois becomes the Seventh Army's last hope for escaping the Falaise Pocket. With heavy air cover, Canadian, Polish and American forces, led by Able Company, secure all bridges around Chambois and close the Falaise Pocket. The German Seventh Army attempts to break free, but they are met with heavy aerial bombardment and are forced to surrender.
The campaign ends with the caption that Able Company had suffered an 80% casualty rate by the end of World War II.
- Captain John MacKay
- The commander of Able Company. He appears to be an Army Ranger by his character model, although he commands a regular infantry company. MacKay is killed when hit by a tank shell (Most likely HE round since it exploded right after hitting behind him) fired by Hauptmann Schultz.
- Sergeant (later Lieutenant) Joe Conti
- The game's narrator, served as the second-in-command of Able Company under Captain MacKay, and is a close friend to MacKay ever since recruit training. Conti is almost killed alongside Captain MacKay, and commands Able Company for the rest of the game. Joe Conti survives through the war.
- Hauptmann Joseph Gunter Schultz
- A German tank captain commanding the "Tiger Ace" from the Panzer Lehr division. He serves as the personal antagonist of Able company. He commands the Panzergruppe that attacks the Red Ball Express, where his unit first met Able Company. Suffering from heavy losses, he watches Captain MacKay from afar while his unit is busy retreating. He later crosses paths with Able Company while commanding the forces defending Saint-Lô, but manages to escape encirclement by Able Company. He kills Captain MacKay when his unit is destroyed while retreating from Hébécrevon. Schultz later defends the Falaise Pocket from encirclement, attempting to delay the attacking Americans as long as possible. Able Company manages to surround his Tiger tank and destroy it. Players can play a campaign featuring him in Tales of Valor, the second expansion pack for Company of Heroes. He appears as a gunner in a different tiger tank in that campaign.
Company of Heroes is Relic's first title to make use of the "Essence Engine". This engine was designed and coded from scratch by Relic to make use of special graphical effects, including high dynamic range lighting, dynamic lighting & shadows, advanced shader effects and normal mapping.
Company of Heroes also utilizes the Havok physics engine, giving it a more realistic physics system than previous RTS games. Parts of buildings can be destroyed by grenades, satchels or mortars, and tanks can drive through sections of walls or other barriers. Smoke created from explosions is programmed to behave as realistically as possible and can even be influenced by wind. Debris is also influenced by explosions; a blast can send barrels flying and shower troops in dirt, whilst leaving behind a large crater. When infantry are bombarded by artillery, body parts sometimes detach and are dispersed over, and some units are thrown about in the immediate area. Bridges and buildings can be destroyed by engineers using demolitions.
On May 29, 2007 Relic released the Company of Heroes patch v1.70 that included a new DirectX 10 rendering mode with enhanced terrain, additional world objects, and improved shadows and lighting. This patch made Company of Heroes the first commercial video game to support Direct3D 10.
Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts is a standalone expansion pack. It contains two factions; the British and the German Panzer Elite. Owners of Opposing Fronts will be able to play against owners of Company of Heroes and vice versa, although only using the armies from the game they own. Owners of both games will be able to play all four armies in multiplayer. Opposing Fronts was officially announced on April 5, 2007 and was released on September 24, 2007. Opposing Fronts was later re-released along with Company of Heroes as Company of Heroes Gold and later as part of the Company of Heroes Anthology (together with Tales of Valor).
Tales of Valor
Company of Heroes received a "Silver" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA), indicating sales of at least 100,000 copies in the United Kingdom.
Upon its release the game received wide critical acclaim. On the review aggregator GameRankings, the game had an average score of 94% based on 61 reviews — making it the third highest rated game of 2006, the highest rated PC game of 2006 and the highest rated Strategy game of all time. On Metacritic, the game had an average score of 93 out of 100, based on 55 reviews — considered "universal acclaim" by the site. As of 2012, it remains the highest-rated real-time strategy (RTS) game and the highest rated strategy game.
In June 2011 the game was ranked #51 on IGNs Top 100 Modern Games. Edge ranked the game #30 on its list of "The 100 Best Games To Play Today", stating "From its lofty perch above an RTS battlefield, Relic gets to the heart of WWII, turning the genre's plusses and minuses into salvation and sacrifice. If only the same could be said of countless first person shooters."
- PC Gamer: Game of the Year 2006
- GameSpy: PC Game of 2006, Best Sound, Best PC Strategy Game, Best PC Multiplayer
- Satellite Awards: Outstanding Puzzle/Strategy Game
- GameSpot: Best PC Game 2006, Best Strategy Game
- IGN: PC Game of 2006, Best PC Strategy Game, Best Use of Sound on PC, Best Online PC game
- Game Critics Awards: Best Strategy Game
- GameSpot: 2005 Best PC Game of Show; Best Strategy Game of Show; Best Overall Game of Show
- IGN: Runner-up, Best Strategy Game (PC), Runner-up, Technological Excellence (PC)
- GameSpy: Best of E3
- Interactive Achievement Awards: Strategy Game of the Year
- Mod DB Hall of Fame: Two modifications, Europe in Ruins (2007) and Company of Heroes: Eastern Front (2010), have each earned a spot in the Mod DB Hall of Fame.
The editors of Computer Games Magazine named Company of Heroes the overall best computer game of 2006, and presented it with their special awards for "Best Strategy Game", "Best Sound Effects", "Best Multiplayer" and "Best Voice Acting". They summarized it as "an ideal real-time strategy game", and as "a perfect storm of visuals, sound, and gameplay."
Company of Heroes Online
Company of Heroes Online was a free MMO real-time strategy computer game developed by Relic Entertainment and published by THQ. The open beta for the game started on 2 September 2010, and the game was cancelled on 31 March 2011. The game has no link with the original Company of Heroes multiplayer system and is a stand-alone game, unlike its predecessors. The game uses the same graphics engine as the retail release of Company of Heroes. Relic also released a Chinese and a South Korean version of the game. The Chinese version was co-developed and published by Shanda while the South Korean version was published by WindySoft and developed entirely by Relic Entertainment. The Korean and American versions featured the entire single-player campaign from the retail release while the Chinese version did not.
Company of Heroes Online was a real time strategy game which was based on Company of Heroes. Company of Heroes Online gameplay placed emphasis on usage of varying degrees of cover which together with a destructible terrain. Another departure from mainstream RTS's was the implementation of sector supply whereby the resource income of a player is linked to the sectors under that player's control. A unique feature of Company of Heroes Online was the bewildering amount of combination of hero units, special abilities and doctrinal abilities a player could utilize, giving the potential for very diverse yet equally effective strategies emphasising on creativity.
Company of Heroes 2
A sequel, Company of Heroes 2, has been released on June 25, 2013 in North America and Europe. The game officially features the USSR's Red Army as a new faction and takes the player on various stages of the Eastern Front campaign, from Operation Barbarossa to the Battle of Berlin. It uses the new Essence 3.0 engine which includes new environmental effects and the new "True Sight" and "ColdTech" systems mimicking unit line of sight like in Men of War and weather effects such as snow and mud as well as blizzards.
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