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Company of Heroes review

Destroy buildings then snipe through the holes in one of the PC's best war games

First impressions are formed by technology. Infantry sprint for cover, holding their helmets, ducking behind walls. Artillery sprays dirt and smoke, pin-wheeling men caught in the blast up into the sky. Roofs crackle and splinter, creating holes through which snipers can peer.

Take the battle for Carentan: after a short invasion, Allied paratroopers have pressed the Axis beyond the three bridges that connect the north of the town to the south - a victory that's set to be short-lived. In ten minutes, there will be a full counter-attack, supported by Panzer tanks, for which the player must prepare by mining the bridges, preparing sandbags to hide behind and putting up tank traps.

Above: The flamethrower is an extremely useful weapon - and looks great too

Machine gun platoons are positioned at forward-facing windows, and mortars hide behind buildings to provide indirect fire. When the attack comes, it delivers in both its scale and violence: covered with dust and wreckage, the front lines of what used to be a town are little more than rubble.

A second impression of this melee is that there's detailed opportunity for tactical decision-making. The machine guns and mortar teams so vital for cutting down infantry need to be given a direction and arc of fire: if they're flanked, they're dead.

The same is true of the armour and anti-armour weaponry - a round will bounce off a Tiger's front armour, but put a hole in its side. Better still, a direct hit might kill the gunner in the turret, or damage the tracks.

More Info

GenreStrategy
DescriptionThere are approximately a billion World War II strategy games to choose from. This is the one to buy - it's a masterpiece.
PlatformPC
US censor ratingMature
Release date11 September 2006 (US), 22 September 2006 (UK)