Saturday, 15 June 2013

Company of heroes 2 - lacking in a few departments


Although the open beta will be ending on the 18th of June a week prior to it's worldwide launch I can't help but feel that COH2 might not be everything it should be.  For anyone who has read about my previous posts involving the second world war, you will know it's my subject of choice for any trivia as I love reading about this epic conflict, and enjoy playing it even more.

Company of heroes 2 was the thing every COH fan talked about when the last expansion pack was released.  Many players then wanted a Red army expansion with eastern front maps, but Relic claimed it would never happen because the engine couldn't support more than 4 armies.  Of course this was all bullshit when a mod team added the Russians without any major changes to the core game and Relic also stuck their foot in their mouth when they added a grand total of 6 playable factions to Dawn of war 2, using the same engine as Company of heroes.

Put this poor job down to THQ who probably wanted the Russians for a sequel to generate more cash to cover their ever increasing debt.  From a story and gameplay standpoint it does make sense to make the eastern front something entirely separate.  The eastern front was vast and the conflict there ravaged huge parts of western Russia, going right up to the gates of Moscow.  Having the sequel squarely set on this massive part of the war means Relic can expand with a new engine and gameplay additions.

But after playing the beta and seeing what they have to offer, I am beginning to feel a little underwhelmed.  The Soviet faction is cool don't get me wrong, some of those Russian tanks and artillery units are fun to play with and use in the new game engine, but the Germans feel a little....bland?  It's hard to obviously make the Germans feel different a third time after already being split into two groups for the first game, but this one feels even more watered down.  The usual suspects are here with Panzer IV's, StugGs, Tigers, Panthers, Ostwinds, SdKfz scout cars and halftracks.  The only real new additions are the Elefant and Brummbar assault tanks.

To make matters worse there are zero ostfront allied units, so no Romanian, Hungarian, Italian or Bulgarian forces make an appearance barring a brief show as generic infantry in a campaign mission (using German equipment and uniforms no less) that is a little bland to say the least.  I honestly think that the German faction could have been spiced up with a few non German units in the game.  Would it have been bad to see a Italian Semovente?  Hungarian Zyrinyi?  Romanian R35?  these units could have easily been call in forces or weak tier units.  No infantry bar German?  Over 262,000 Italians fought over there, 200,000 Hungarians along with another million from Roumania alone.

I guess it's a beta so we have yet to see everything they have planned but really they need to be added to show a true picture of the war in eastern Europe.  It's not like the game is bad either it's just not as impressive as Company of heroes, even though that started with only two armies, you knew it was going to be massive after the rave reviews and groundbreaking changes to the RTS genre as a whole.  Company of heroes 2 should have been bigger with more units and scope, but is really just playing it safe under SEGA's watch. 

Hell I bought a copy myself because the combat is fun and the novelty of the Russians is there, but I wonder how long that will last.  I just hope this theatre of war mode will add not only new units and commanders etc. but also new armies to play as.  They are charging for these and I would be a little disappointed if the units in them are only for those missions.  Still there is every chance that Relic already have new forces in the works, possibly even a complete conversion of company of heroes to add both the western and eastern fronts. 

Also where is the German campaign?  People would object to playing as the Germans which is fucking retarded when playing as the Russians is almost as bad.  Don't tell me you feel happy playing as the forces that wholesale slaughtered it's own people on Stalin's whims and say they were exempt from the same crimes as Hitler and his SA.  Anyway the game is about soldiers and their fight not only for survival but also for their country.  I don't want a German campaign that paints them as heroes or as being right in their actions, but I don't want a flag waving "ain't this all swell" campaign like the American one was either.  Give us a set of missions detailing the horror of the average German unit who despite win after win in the conflict, never seem to be getting any closer to final victory.  Show us their friends being lost in a horrific war and how their camaraderie is made and ultimately shattered by the staggering losses in Stalingrad, Leningrad and Kharkov.

Is it so wrong to play as the antagonist?  The war has been over for so long now it doesn't make any difference, it's not like winning in a computer game means history will change with it.  It's not like every time someone wins a campaign on Red orchestra the history of the conflict is altered in real life is it now.  I don't have a problem playing as the Russians, in fact the story seems interesting, but it seems somewhat biased to only show one side of the conflict.  The Panzer Lehr campaign got too much negative press, and when it was finally released it showed a rather interesting side of things.  Something many outspoken critics found dumbfounding, as they expected it to be some kind of SS recruitment mission, the dicks.

Basically Relic give the eastern front a proper campaign, give the armies that fought there a decent showing and finally don't be afraid to try something different.  The industry needs change and you are the ones to do it, just like you did with the original Company of heroes.

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