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Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts

Score: 92%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Relic Entertainment
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 8
Genre: Real-Time Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

The first Company of Heroes set an extremely high bar to be hurdled. Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts clears the bar, but we may see a low score from the East German judge. Sure it may have added new content, vehicles and factions. But isn't more of the same just, well, the same? It is yet another World War II real time strategy game. It is raw and mature. I think that America's youth could probably sit and have a conversation with our WWII vets about the weapons and vehicles of the time and the kids would know as much, if not more about the tools of the war. The difference here that allows Opposing Fronts to clear the bar is not the single player gameplay entirely, but the Multiplayer.

The game doesn't look or feel any different than the first iteration, but in no way is that a mark off the look of the game. It is still a great looking game. There really isn't a way to make dirt and grit look dirtier and grittier. The animation looks the same and the new content seemingly fits in with what we have to expect from the first one.

Nothing says war like the thundering bravado of an orchestra. We are all overly familiar to the sounds of the weapons of WWII. So much that it just doesn't matter, and it all just sort of runs together as background noise - the same way some veterans don't even flinch when they hear a gun go off.


Gameplay:

Here we are again, my friends - smack dab in the middle of WWII with Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts. We are also fighting many of the same battles, okay, no literally we are fighting the same battles. One of these days, I am going to go on a walking tour of Europe and I won't need a map to go through the historic battle areas, because I will have had to cross them in my game experiences a thousand times.

You now have two new factions to control. They are the British 2nd Army or German Panzer Elite. Both have distinct and unique tactical advantages and disadvantages. There are two full campaigns for you to play through. There are also many advances to the Vehicle A.I. that make it much more playable and intuitive. Real world environment conditions add to the feel of the game as well. All of these little additions are indeed improvements to the game, but they cannot individually add enough to remove me from the feeling of the fact I have been there and blown that up before.

This is a standalone expansion, meaning that you do not need to have the original title in order to play it. In its own merits, Opposing Fronts is a good game and is interesting enough. I feel that it is a little wasted if you do not have the first Company of Heroes. In fact, I have to say it is entirely wasted if you do not have, nor have you played the first. Company of Heroes sets the bar because of how it played, and not because it was another WWII RTS. And, Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts grows that even larger.

Now finally to the part that puts this game over the top of the dying beast that is the WWII RTS genre, the multiplayer. You now have four different armies to play. Not different because they are wearing different uniforms, but because they each tactically play different. The summation is that it is awesome. The multiplayer is one of the most fun RTS multiplayer experiences I have had. With this expansion, they have given me new multiplayer modes to pit the Allied vs. the Axis.


Difficulty:

Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts is such a fast-paced and in your face RTS that to say that it is challenging does it no justice. It is definitely no stroll from garden to market. The unique play of each one of the armies may pose a problem if you do not entirely grasp the strengths and weakness of each faction. There are plenty of matched situations, but if you do not understand the full ranges of tactics and counters, there will be many short games for you in multiplayer. There may even be a few slammed keyboards. Take the time understand and play each faction. I have found that there is a faction for each player's style for the most part. It isn't like you can make up too many new armies to throw into the fight from here, so work with what you have.

Game Mechanics:

Both of Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts's new factions have a distinct identifier. The British ability to dig in gives it a huge defensive stand, but it can be outmaneuvered by the Panzer's speed and mobility. The cautious, rigid, and deliberate troop movement is a mechanism you will have to get used to in order to use them well in battle. The Panzer's ability to booby-trap is an interesting dynamic which plays into the British cautious movement.

I feel that the complexity of both games, the original and this expansion, make it fairly difficult on a new player to get into. I had personally made an attempt to get others to play this with me and I constantly ran into barriers of players' understanding of the skills. This is absolutely nothing against the game, save one thing. Unfortunately, if the complexity of the play is too high, then you create a niche gameplay experience that many do not get to enjoy. Then again, on the other hand, war is hell. If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

There is nothing you can do about the setting of the game, especially since this is an expansion. It is a great addition to the game series. If you have and liked the original, you have no excuse not to pick this up as well. If you have never played the first, don't worry there is enough content here to get you hooked, and subsequently make you go buy the first. Either way it is win-win.


-WUMPUSJAGGER, GameVortex Communications
AKA Bryon Lloyd

Minimum System Requirements:



Minimum Requirements: Windows XP or Vista, SSE-capable processor, 2.0 Ghz Intel Pentium IV or equivalent or AMD Athlon XP or equivalent, 512 MB RAM, DirectX 9.0c compatible 64MB video card with Pixel Shader 1.1 support or equivalent and latest manufacturer drivers, DirectX 9.0c compatible 16-bit sound card, DVD-ROM drive, 6.5 GB of uncompressed free hard drive space.

Recommended Requirements: NVIDIA GeForce 3 series or better with latest manufacturer drivers (excluding the GeForce 4 MX series) ATI Radeon 9500 series or better with latest manufacturer drivers

REQUIRED FOR MULTIPLAYER: Additional 1 GB of free hard disk space, 1 GB RAM

 

Test System:



Dell XPS DXP061, XP Pro, Intel Core Quad, 2GB Ram, Gforce 8800GTX

Sony PlayStation 2 Swashbucklers: Blue vs. Grey Nintendo DS Strawberry Shortcake: The Four Seasons Cake

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated