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Company of Heroes or (CoH) is a World War II real-time strategy (RTS) computer game developed for Microsoft Windows by Relic Entertainment. It was announced on April 25, 2005, and released on September 14, 2006. It is the first game to use the "Games for Windows" label. The game was released on steam on July 17, 2007. A standalone expansion, Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts was released September 24, 2007.

Gameplay

There are three types of gameplay featured in Company of Heroes which are Campaign, Skirmish, and Online Multiplayer.

In the story mode the player leads the Allies from the very beginning of the Battle of Normandy or D-Day and all the way through to the capture of the Falaise Gap.

In skirmish battles the player starts out as either the Allies or Axis on one side of a pre-determined map usually with a Headquarter, Engineer or Pioneer Squad, and light machine-gun defences. Then the player must start by either capturing a certain point or creating buildings and defences. Also each front has it's own unique companys or doctrines that provides things such as upgrades, weapons, and many other things.

For the game to officially end with a victor or loser it depends on the game mode. If the game is played on Victory Point Control they must capture all capture points before the enemy and on Annihilation one player must wipe out the enemy by destroying every official enemy building. The player could also just lose or surrender by quiting out of the game.

There are several unique options in Company of Heroes which is for all fronts in the game. One is the realistic detail of the units and how they use tactics and work in the environment. Another thing is the abillity for the units to arm themselves in any building or to turn it into a barracks. The camera of the game also allows the player to have a close look at the battlefield and even inside any building to see the RTS from a more realistic point of view.

Also the Havoks 3 physics engine allows the game to have a more realistic style of physics than most RTS games. Parts of buildings can be destroyed by grenades, satchels or mortars, and tanks can drive through sections of walls or other barriers. Smoke created from explosions is programmed to behave as realistically as possible and can even be influenced by wind. Debris is also influenced by explosions; a blast can send barrels flying and shower troops in dirt, whilst leaving behind a large crater. When infantry are bombarded by artillery, body parts sometimes detach and are dispersed over, and some units even getting thrown about in the immediate area. Bridges and buildings can be destroyed by engineers using demolitions.

Multiplayer

For Company of Heroes, Relic began using a new online gaming system called Relic Online. Previous Relic games used GameSpy Arcade or World Opponent Network services. This new system includes many features that the previous systems did not have, including a built in automatch and ranking system.

This game allows multiplayer matches of 2-8 players via LAN or the Internet.

Company of Heroes allows you to fight as both the Allied and Axis forces when you play a multiplayer game.

Development

Graphics

Company of Heroes is Relic's first title to make use of a new type of engine, known as the "Essence Engine". This engine was designed and coded from scratch by Relic in order to make use of special graphical effects, including high dynamic range lighting, dynamic lighting & shadows, advanced shader effects and normal mapping.

COH is rendered in 3D with intricate detailing on the infantry, vehicles and structures while still retaining a solid frame-rate, without, Relic claims, the need for a high-end gaming system. It claims that there are nearly 2,000 different animations for a basic infantry unit alone.

On May 29, 2007 Relic released a patch for Company of Heroes that included a new DirectX 10 rendering mode with enhanced terrain, additional world objects, and improved shadows and lighting. This patch made Company of Heroes the first commercial video game to support Direct3D 10.

Receptions

Reviews

The game received highly positive reviews from critics. On the review aggregator Game Rankings, the game had an average score of 94% based on 61 reviews making it the third highest rated game of 2006 and highest rated PC game of 2006. On Metacritic, the game had an average score of 93 out of 100, based on 55 reviews — considered "universal acclaim" by the site. Currently, it is one of the highest-rated real-time strategy games.

Games for Windows gave Company of Heroes a 10 out of 10, and featured it in their "Tom vs Bruce" section.

PC Gamer UK awarded Company of Heroes 94%, the second highest they have given an RTS (behind Red Alert which received 95% in 1996). They also gave it a "Must Buy" tag. PC Gamer US gave Company of Heroes a 96% as well as an Editor's Choice award, their highest score given to an RTS ever, and later named it game of the year for 2006. PC Zone in the UK awarded Company of Heroes 93% in Issue 173, meaning it was awarded with a Classic award. The game is also at the top of their Buyers Guide list for Strategy games, marking it with a Must Buy! Edge, a UK publication, awarded Company of Heroes a score of 9 (out of 10) in Issue 167.

GameInformer gave Company of Heroes a 9.5 out of 10.

Online, Company of Heroes has received a score of 9.0 from GameSpot[1] (original score was an 8.9, revised because 1.2 Patch fixed SLI problem[1]), a 9.4 from IGN[2], 5 out of 5 stars from GameSpy[3], 10/10 from Eurogamer[4], and a 10 out of 10 from 1UP.com[5].

Awards

Technical

With the release of Opposing Fronts CoH owners were given a comprehensive 1.7 GB patch to version 2.101, required if they wish to continue playing through Relic Online. The patch unifies CoH with its stand alone expansion pack regarding the game engine and art assets allowing the two to play with each other online. A patched installation of the original CoH does not include the unit speech for the two new factions, while Opposing Fronts includes all content from both games. As Opposing Fronts contains both games the original will be uninstalled, if detected, during the installation to merge the two products

Content in both games is unlocked through online verification and CD keys. This created a small controversy as although the Company of Heroes box clearly says one set of discs is required per computer for multiplayer games this was not enforced until the release Opposing Fronts and the large patch for CoH which retrofitted this activation scheme into the original game.

Users of both games are required to log into Relic Online if they have an active internet connection, even if they do not wish to play online matches. Without an active internet connection CoH will fall back to traditional physical media verification. Also, forum posts from Relic employees have confirmed that both games now send various statistics back to Relic, without the possibility to opt-out.(Citation needed)

Patch 2.102, released on October 12, 2007, revealed that the preceding 2.101 patch introduced a requirement of having the game patched up-to-date if the user has an active internet connection. If the user disables their internet connection the game will not be able to automatically download a patch and will run as it did previously.

Patch 2.202, released on March 05, 2008 attempts to update from the incumbent 2.201 version. When the game auto retrieves the patch from the servers and attempts to update, the following message is displayed: "This patch updates CoH version 2.201 but you appear to have version 2.101 installed already. To download the latest patches, run CoH and login to Relic Online. (Error code 10244)"

Patch 2.300, released on March 17, 2008 addressed numerous balance complaints and fixed outstanding bugs such as allowing the Assault Grenades ability to target units in British trenches. The application of the patch also adds features to Relic Online, most notably the Team Automatch capability, which allows players to invite friends to team up for a ranked game.

For a genuine owner of Company of Heroes to be playing online before the 2.202 patch, he must already have updated from version 1.xxx to 2.101, and then from 2.101 to 2.102, and so on. Hence the idea that the problem that prevents 2.201 from being patched, is that "version 2.101 (is) installed already" is an oxymoron. In relation to the previous controversy, as the game is now outdated with regards to Relic Online, and because the game will not allow you to proceed any further until you have an active Internet connection and patched to the most current version, the genuine owner of the game is locked out from any further activity, which includes watching replays, continuing the single player campaign, etc.

See also

External links

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