Company of Heroes Complete: Campaign Edition
One of the best real-time strategy games of all time finally makes its way to the Mac!
Company of Heroes Complete: Campaign Edition is a real-time strategy game set during World War II originally released for Windows back in 2006 but now available for the Macintosh courtesy of Aspyr Media. The Macintosh version is designated “Campaign Edition” because it does not contain the skirmish and multiplayer modes. It does, however, contain the full single player campaign from the original game as well as the single player campaigns from the two expansions, Opposing Fronts and Tales of Valor.
The game will have you battling through numerous missions in France and Holland modeled after real events from World War II. You’ll also get to play as the American, German, British, and Canadian armies at various points throughout the campaigns. Missions involve everything from securing bridges, defending a hill, cutting off retreating troops, or even hunting down and taking out a specific tank. During these missions you will have all sorts of authentic World War II units, such as Rangers, Paratroopers, Sherman tanks, antitank guns, mortars, snipers, and heavy machine guns at your disposal. You’ll also earn command points during each mission that allow you to purchase special abilities such as calling in airstrikes, aerial reconnaissance, increasing unit production time, and upgrading vehicle crews with the ability to repair their own vehicles. As with most real-time strategy games you’ll also typically have a base and be able to construct various buildings that produce units and services such as a first aid tent. The engineer units, which you can produce from your headquarters (HQ) building, are particularly useful because they can build all sorts of defensive structures such as mines, barbed wire fences, sand bags, and heavy machine gun bunkers. They’re also very proficient at fixing damaged vehicles and buildings. And each nation has their own unique units, buildings, and abilities. The attention to detail is pretty impressive.
For an older game it still looks great. You can zoom in close enough to see each individual soldiers face although you’ll probably want to play in the default zoomed out mode most of the time so you have a better view of the whole battlefield. The booming sounds of a battlefield are all present and very well done. The game is just a visual and auditory treat. The cutscenes are also extremely impressive, whether they are pre-rendered or using the in-game graphics engine. There’s also quite a bit of dialogue, both during the cutscenes and gameplay. A word of warning however as the dialogue is filled with a fair amount of coarse language. I’m guessing they were going with authenticity here but in this case it’s perhaps a little too authentic if that kind of thing bothers you. Some of the cutscenes are pretty graphic as well. There are subtitles for those that need them, at least during the cutscenes. You don’t see subtitles in certain cases during gameplay but it is important to hear your soldiers yelling out and the various notifications because these cues alerts you to where you should be focusing on the map at any given time. There are visual representations of notifications however.
Real-time strategy games aren’t exactly my favorite type of game, mostly because I’m not that good at them. There usually seems to be far too much chaotic clicking to keep up and succeed, let alone enjoy the action. Being that real-time strategy games are often completely mouse–orientated (with optional keyboard shortcuts if you desire) I’m not sure I can blame my disability for my inability to be very successful with these types of games. However in Company of Heroes that’s not a problem at all because there’s actually a pause button! It’s the “F8” key (in the Mac version) on your keyboard and completely changes everything. You can pause the action at any time and queue up orders for all your units, even multiple orders for a single unit (while pressing the shift key), then unpause and watch the action play out. So essentially this allows you to really take your time and think about strategy and what you want to do next much like in a turn-based game. In the Windows version you can’t do this in multiplayer mode for obvious reasons. As a big World War II history buff I was elated to discover this because I wouldn’t have enjoyed the game otherwise. The game can be played in both full screen and windowed mode but KeyStrokes (and Switch XS) work perfectly in both. I basically only used KeyStrokes for pausing, right-clicking (using the control key), the shift key (for queuing up multiple orders for individual units), and camera control. I set KeyStrokes to be almost completely transparent unless I moused over it while playing (you might notice that in the screenshots). Once again because of the pause feature it doesn’t matter how slow you are at using a keyboard or using a mouse.
A note about mission 14 (entitled “Autry”) in the American campaign. In this mission your objective is to hunt down and eliminate a specific tank (the Tiger Ace). I discovered if you save your game at any point during this mission this tank becomes invulnerable preventing you from finishing the mission. Some Googling helped me discover that I wasn’t the only one that ran into this problem. Whether it’s a bug or a feature is anybody’s guess. So whatever you do just make sure it doesn’t involve saving your game during this mission. The mission doesn’t take long and you can still pause whenever you want. You can even set each missions difficulty level individually to help you get through tough spots like this might be for some people without the ability to save your game.
I really enjoyed Company of Heroes despite its flaws. The game still looks great and is a lot of fun to play. More importantly the presence of a pause button makes this a real-time strategy game that just about anybody can play no matter how fast or slow one is with clicking and moving a mouse. Some might (understandably) complain about the price tag ($50) of the Mac version of a dated game that lacks the multiplayer and skirmish modes but with both expansions included there is a lot of material to work your way through here. Certainly if you have any interest in World War II-based games then you have to get this game for your Mac. But anybody interested in real-time strategy games of any kind should have a lot of fun with it as well. Company of Heroes Complete: Campaign Edition for the Mac can be purchased from the Mac App Store as well as other popular digital download portals.