You've never seen a strategy game with combat as intense as Company of Heroes. As your squads engage the enemy, you'll hear soldiers barking orders, shouting in victory and screaming in pain. Every thunderous detonation throws up a spectacular cloud of dirt and debris (and occasionally arms and legs); every building can be leveled by artillery fire or crushed under tank treads. Tank combat is a deadly game of angling for a shot at the enemy's weak armor, since shells will often bounce off the front armor. And of course the graphics are amazing - zooming in reveals a level of detail that's almost beyond belief.
The single player mode is downright extravagant. Gorgeous in-game cutscenes and moody narrated storyboard-style videos set a perfect atmosphere. More than 15 well-scripted, challenging and very replayable missions (secondary goals, like inflicting a certain number of casualties on the Nazis, keep you coming back for more) unspool the familiar story of the D-Day invasion that spelled the beginning of the end for Hitler. The main objectives range from pushing the Nazis out of an area and holding against their counter-attack to hunting and destroying powerful Tiger tanks to infiltrating and destroying a V2 rocket facility.
There's a certain amount of personality in the mix that keeps things interesting - in addition to getting to know a few members of your company, a vendetta against the German panzer commander that took out your company leader makes things personal.
Rather than collecting ore or whatever and trucking it back to your base to fund your war machine (they didn't do too much of that in WWII), you send troops to capture strategic points. By holding these, you gain a steady income of manpower, oil or munitions, depending on the point type.
The Axis and Allied armies are superbly balanced, with the Americans relying on speed and numbers and the Germans specializing in heavy armor. Victory often depends on using the terrain to your advantage - units will automatically take cover behind nearby walls and rubble, a sniper nested in a tower can drop entire squads of infantry before they know what hit them, and a machine gun team can be taken down in a heartbeat if outflanked. Of course, none of them stand a chance against armor without anti-tank weapons or mines.
As you fight you'll earn experience points which can be spent to unlock command abilities, such as calling in paratroopers or artillery strikes. These abilities increase the variety of play significantly and makes multiplayer a blast, especially the Victory Point mode (though developer Relic has a bug or two to work out of their online matching system). It all adds up to the best WWII game, and probably one of the best strategy games, we've ever played. Do not miss Company of Heroes.