Company of Heroes
(Includes free copy of Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War)

Format: PC

4 005209 085250
Age Restrictions: 15+
29 September 2006

A real-time strategy game set in World War II,
Company of Heroes brings to life, in full cinematic detail, the greatest war mankind has ever known. The game is built on Relic's next-generation Essence Engine and also uses the Havok Physics engine, delivering cinematic visual detail in a world completely driven by realistic physics. Take control of the fate of the brave men of Able Company in a deep single-player campaign that begins with the invasion of Normandy through their fight across Europe, all set against dynamic battlefields. Company of Heroes' completely destructible environment means no two battles ever play out in the same way. Advanced squad AI delivers startling new realism and responsiveness, bringing soldiers to life as they interact with the environment and execute advanced squad tactics to eliminate the opposition forces...

Company of Heroes is the latest WWII Real Time Strategy (RTS) game. But before you write this off as yet another variation on a popular theme, it's worth digging a little deeper. Firstly the game is based on the successful platform that brought us Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War. But, before you start thinking that all they've done is change the graphics and updated it a bit, let me assure you that this is a very different game. Don't believe me? Well THQ have kindly offered you the chance to check this out for yourself - as every copy of Company of Heroes comes with a free copy of Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War.

One of the major plus points for me was the AI of your troops. How many times have you played a war RTS game only to come under fire while your men stand there like lemons waiting for your order? In Company of Heroes the second there is a threat all your men dive for cover and, unless they are seriously pinned down, will return fire. This makes the game all that more believable and fun. I've lost count of the number of games I've played where your men will stand out in the open while the enemy open fire on them - picking them off one by one while they wait for you to tell them to move their backsides.

Your tanks will also target the nearest enemy and open fire without waiting for you to tell them too. But don't think that this means that the way to win is to collect a huge army of men and machines and then plow towards your target leaving the computer's AI to do the actual job of fighting for you.

Everything you see on the battlefield can be destroyed - and realistically too. Buildings crumble and get bullet holes peppered into them; and telephone cables spark as they are cut down.

From the opening shots of the D-Day invasion of Normandy you find yourself immersed in a rich single player campaign. In fact, for the first time, I actually felt that the game developers had managed to capture something of what it must have been like to actually try to storm the beach on Normandy. As you arrive on the beach, and watch soldiers getting picked off all around you, there's something almost like an out of body experience going on.

For those of you who have become a little jaded with all the World War II games on the market, I suggest you take a look at Company of Heroes. An almost faultless example of how to do something new with an old format.

Nick Smithson

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