Another game wearing a Soviet Uniform provides a very underwhelming boring experience.
First off, video games have been around for a long time. Since the earliest days of video games has there been a strand dedicated to the Second World War and it's themes and history. Company of Heroes is one of many to join the legions to tell you a story through our history that should not be forgotten. This sounds quite humble and acceptable, however my opinion is that the game is very, well - not very good.
You'll have to bare with me while I steer a bit off course for a second and explain some history of the Eastern front without taking up the entire review and keeping it down to earth. Hitler and his armies, high on the success of the first two years of the second world war prepared to invade the Soviet Union through the case known as Operation Barbarossa - they launched it in June of '41 and history tells the rest. They started off with over three million men and thousands of heavy weapons, tanks aircraft etc to aid them with, being the biggest operation undertaken ever - even up till now.
Why does this really matter?
Well I'd argue scaling. You see, the Eastern front is a bit more interesting in history I would argue because of scale, every campaign consisted of hundreds of thousands of men, with ideologies and guns pointed behind their backs there was only do and die or don't and die sort of atmosphere. Not one step backwards, casualties were in the millions for both sides. Majority of German casualties in the war were exclusive to the Eastern front. Soviet armies were obliterated times over and still en masse retaliated. Obviously I am missing a few points but this doesn't transform into relic's game sense really well, because you're not playing Company of Heroes. You're playing Dawn of War 40k, just skinned differently. This destroys my expectations of grand battle and real sense of desperation when one or two tanks are on the field and a few platoons spread around taking hundreds of shots and not really dying quickly.
So it's a bit troubling and kinda dumb to watch your four platoons of a few soldiers walk up to a machine gun nest and do the same things space marines do, except in their clothes complaining about it, but at least soaking up the damage! I only played this game on normal so perhaps on the hardest difficulties this game would make it more 'realistic' but then again much like Relic's recent releases the formula just stinks.
Most, if not all of my experience was briefly through the single player. Now one thing relic does pretty well is telling a story, however you seem to have to drag yourself through the campaign (which is thinly veiled as a giant tutorial really for multiplayer) getting a new unit per mission or through unlock. Sure is fun game mechanics!
You never really have a sense of immersion with red painted on enemies randomly to distinguish their allegiance as well as blue on yours, to well - tell you that apparently that's your unit, gee I didn't know thanks! It's all too catering and in the way that breaks away from the historical prospects the game is trying to portray.
That's what is very frustrating for me. The game tries way too hard to pander to basic RTS mechanics that everyone can get behind. However sure, I can see why that doesn't seem like a terrible, but it's very frustrating for what I would categorize myself as, more of a fan of history than a fan of RTS. Because if you're the latter, you're probably going to dabble in the game a bit, move on to better meta game sound games like Starcraft or Warhammer 40k. Which leaves Company of Heroes kinda extremely mediocre because it gets the historic stuff pretty wrong (Tigers in Stalingrad, a pretty large no-no for anyone who doesn't just stick their toe into the historic period) and the RTS experience is very mediocre.
There are a few interesting gimmicks that caught my eye, the whole frozen winter stuff was pretty cool but quickly melts away. In multiplayer there are doctrines you can pick to build around (though reading through forums you can tell that there are very broken strats that completely ruin the experience). The unit's small talk when idling is pretty interesting and I found myself wasting time hearing all the snippets of dialogue rather then just trying to do whatever objectives told me. Breaking the ice under tanks was a bit cool but, again underwhelming. There are also commissars in the game, where they shoot your retreating units - except I never did lose a unit to that, as you can quickly game that pretty easily, microing them once returned to base etc. Pretty dumb.
Also base building - jesus christ that's still a thing? It is so extremely tacked on and poorly scripted. It is just an awful addition to the game. You spend so much more extra time for no reason, just to tech up in a war - that shit isn't needed and its just awful, absolutely. You're playing small tactical battles and you have to build bases? Yuck.
You see it's already 2013, coming up to '14 and having a massive history, where thousands of games have been set in the era - with all of the knowledge and history almost accessible to everyone in every respect you would hope that games that distinguish themselves in the period would be a bit more interesting then a carbon copy of a previous game relic pumped out (W40k:DOW 2) just sent in the period. You never feel a sense of brutal shell shocking experience that gets you immersed, there is somewhat of a story and a few characters you can sympathize with however the game's mechanics are just garbage. Pure hot garbage. You're playing a world war game, yet it definitely feels like I'm on a different planet. I did not have any fun.
But hey, y'know what mixes fun with history pretty fucking great? Men of War - play that series instead. Wow will you experience hard battles and a feel of the war when you dip into that. No clutter UI or default red/blue paint to distinguish yourself differently. Infact I think I will probably stick to that as my go-to RTS WW2 experience from here on out, even if the voice acting is super atrocious.
2/5 I can't see anyone really falling back to this and saying it is anything beyond subpar, which sucks cause I love relic and their company and Sega's recent maneuvers, but it's really just hot garbage I can't even finish the campaign without rolling my eyes. I'm too old for this shit .