Hey fellow assassins, I hope you’re all doing fine and staying indoors. Weird times, outright surreal. I won’t complain though, since I can work from home, while many others don’t have that luxury.
At the start of March – no Corona lockdown yet – I decided to partake in the monthly theme again, since it worked out really well for me in February. The suggested tags produced a lot of hits in my small library (btw, I know everyone is hating on Steam for being so late with this feature, but it’s really neat that you can search your library by tags now.) So I choose to play games which have both the ‘War’ and the ‘Military’ tag. In addition I continued playing Factorio, even “beating” it.
Company of Heroes - Legacy Edition
17.3 hours, no achievements
I would like to start with a personal note: I decided to give Company of Heroes a go, a game I've played in 2013 for a couple of minutes but quickly set aside. The reason for that lies in the setting of the game, World War II. I find it greatly depressing to play games set in WW2. All this destruction and death and pain it caused…I simply cannot ignore that while playing. Add to that the unhealthy fascination and mystification of the german armed forces, which seems to be widespread in the internet, and … yeah, it's just too much, it always makes me feel really bad. I know this is a bit hypocritical since I still enjoy other war games, but those don't hit home as close.
Now for the review: Company of Heroes is a RTS set in World War II. When it was released in 2006, it received a lot of praise for its multiplayer. I didn't play MP though, only the singleplayer campaign. Therefore my review is only for the SP part of the game, MP experience might be different. The campaign is set in the wake of D-Day and follows a company of US American soldiers throughout a series of missions fighting to liberate France.
The gameplay focuses mainly on tactical decisions. Ressource management and base building are only secondary aspects. Your units are organized in squads, which can be upgraded over the course of a game. By taking flags you conquer enemy territory which gives you additional income. The overall gameplay is very similar to Dawn of War I, which was (coincidentally?) released shortly prior to CoH, but CoH feels a bit more hectic and has even less base building. I found it to be challenging and enjoyable.
The gameplay alone would not have convinced me to give the game 4 stars though. It was the cutscenes, that really got me. They are with ingame graphics and rather short, but beautifully composed. Visuals, dialogues and the background music all fit perfectly. With only a few shots, the cutscenes do a perfect job of depicting the horrors of war and the catastrophical destruction in ravaged France. In addition, the Germans are speaking actual german and were not voiced by someone who learned a bit of german in high school --- which would have destroyed the immersion for me. I might be interpreting too much into the game, but this bleakness of war translates even to the goals of the missions. You always have to conquer a hill or a small village, seemingly unimportant goals in the grand scheme of things. You never have the mission to kill Hitler or something of the likes. And these "small" missions, which still take a great amount of lives, add to the feeling: War is ultimately pointless (which we all knew beforehand, of course).
So yeah, thanks skanda for hosting the theme and motivate me to play this game. I was positively surprised and can fully recommend it.
Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts
14.3 hours, no achievements
Company of Heroes: Opposing fronts is the first expansion to Company of Heroes. It features two new SP campaigns. Operation Market Garden is narrated from the german point of view, the liberation of Caen from the view of different units of the British Commonwealth. My review of the main game holds true for the expansion as well. The newly introduced units and mechanics of the expansion are fun to play. Just ze aczent of the Germanz speaking English was a bit too clichey for my taste.
Factorio is all about crafting. Starting off stranded on an alien planet you set out to craft enough materials to build a space rocket. From mining a handfull of different ressources to refining them and combining them to get different advanced products, everything is done by machines you have to set up. In the beginning those are only a few, but over time and with researching new technologies your factory grows bigger and bigger and hungers for ever more ressources. All the while you also have to fight off the hostile fauna of the world you crashlanded on.
The game is amazing. It starts off really simple and evolves step for step into something extremely complicated. Even the UI evolves with reaching new technologies. You got transport belts, then trains, and later on even automated drones (which are super fun). The first item you need are super simple to craft, but they grow more and more complex as you go on. It took me 42 hours to build a factory that can produce the aforementioned rocket. And I still left out some production cycles that were not absolutely necessary. There is a ton of things that could still be done. And you actually have to think about the things you do and plan ahead.
And that's the only downside of the game, you are never done. Your factory always needs more ressources and can always be built a bit differently in order to be more efficient. Btw, leave tons of space in the beginning. You cannot imagine how big your factory will get. I had to restart several times because I ran into a bottleneck and it seemed easier to start completely anew than to rebuild half of my production cycles. Even if you manage to get bored by the original game at some point, there are still a lot of mods that enhance the game and add almost infinitely more complex production cycles. However, I was completely fine with Vanilla Factorio, enough interesting stuff in there for me.
I rarely award 5 stars, but this game definitely deserves them. I'm still a bit hesitant to recommend the game, better watch some videos first. I could imagine that some people might find it too boring or tedious to play. Achievement hunters beware: Some of the achievements would be really annoying to get. You can disable being eligible for achievements by issuing any console command though. Which I did to keep my AGC intact ;)
I’m playing Age of Empires III right now, also for the monthly theme. Might also continue a bit with Factorio.
To sum up, I had the pleasure of playing some great games since the last update. CoH turned out to be really touching, something I did not expect. And Factorio is easily one of my top games I played and will play in 2020. It’s practically an endless sandbox game, but in theory your goal is to build a rocket. I achieved that, so I count it as ‘beaten’. All three of the games were in my ‘unfinished’ category, another plus. While finishing up AoE III, I’m already looking forward to the next Monthly theme. The ones in February and now March helped me finish some games I probably wouldn’t have played without them.
Stay save and happy backlog-clearing to everyone,