I’ve been promising to get back into the Company of Heroes 2 for a few weeks now, but finally I got it updated on Steam and jumped in. There have been some changes since I last played, the most obvious being the inclusion of a Campaign mission. It is the seventh mission set in January 1943 entitled Land Bridge to Leningrad. I came away…impressed. Things seemed a lot tighter and ready than they did when I played the singleplayer demo at the Eurogamer Expo last year. To be expected really considering how long it has been since then, but it now feels much more like a complete, finished game.
This mission places you in charge of a small group of Russian infantry on the wrong side of a frozen lake with heavy Germany opposition right in your face. In your face is the right word to describe the mission, you can take a back seat as I did at one point to gather breath, but once you get in the action it is relentless, intense and very well worked. In the immediate action on the frozen lake I ordered a unit of infantry to lob a grenade at the Germans. It had the desired effect of wiping out the enemy unit, and it managed to create a nice new hole in the lake. Job done I must say.
My next task, and my first objective, was to get a foothold on the other side of the river where the Germans were entrenched. In hindsight I should have split my units into two groups, sending each up a separate route through the snow. With mortars raining down on either side of my men I had to move fast, more grenades and frantic clicking with my mouse saw the first group of mortars eliminated. Unfortunately, as I hadn’t split my squads, I found my men were being blown apart from the mortars a bit further along the river bank.
Inspiration struck, I ordered one of my units to take over one of the now unused mortars and ordered them to start throwing their mini-bombs towards the enemy location. As they started with this, I sent my remaining conscripts around to attack the last two German mortar crew. They were quickly intercepted by some flamethrower wielding enemies and pinned down by heavy machine-gun fire. It was threatening to turn into a route as my men crawled back to the safety of the river. Due to the losses I had taken I was able to summon some more men from the magic reinforcement ability. With my new recruits, and a bit more nous, I was able to clear the German positions and even capture one of the heavy artillery pieces that hadn’t been ruined by my mortar fire.
This artillery would come in handy, as my men were capturing the control point they came under fire from two snipers. I used my newly earned artillery to blast away some likely hiding spots, and in turn the enemy, allowing my men to finish capturing the point. High command were kind enough to send me some armoured units and I was now able to use some buildings which had magically sprung up. A half-track and some more infantry joined my crew as I continued to use my artillery to clear out some buildings leading to my next objective, the German HQ.
I was able to edge forward with the bulk of my force at this point, knowing my long-range artillery team would be able to knock out any fierce opposition. This meant that capturing the German HQ was something of a breeze, and I found myself rewarded with a heavy tank and the ability to call in air strikes. This was the warning I needed to know that a German onslaught was incoming, and it came hard and fast.
Infantry on all sides along with Panzers threatened to make short work of my lightly armoured units. I was able to stand firm though, calling on my heavy tank, artillery and air strikes to repel enough waves of opposition to finish the mission.
It was short, twenty minutes tops and that was with me taking my time. Most importantly though, it served to give me a taste for the campaign once more. Battles might turn depending on whether you are lucky enough to capture enemy weaponry while the objectives never seemed too contrived. If the rest of the campaign is to this good standard, and hopefully some levels will be even better, then we will be in for a treat when the game launches in ten days.