The long awaited first expansion pack to Company of Heroes is finally here, and much like Dark Crusade for its sister game, Dawn of War, Opposing Fronts is virtually a sequel in its own right. It doesn’t require the original, and while it shares the same basic game play its plot is disconnected in every regard with the classic game, save for sharing the same war.
The original game contained a single campaign, majestic though it was, and although great fun it regrettably followed tradition by only being about one side, the Americans. How many times have we fought D-Day, how many times the Battle of the Bulge? It was all growing a bit tedious. On the rare occasions the British were featured it was usually in a token gesture, the Russians were sometimes featured but very rarely and the Germans never featured. Yes, they were the bad guys and yes they lost, but nevertheless the reviewer would like them to have a better representation in the modern game industry, especially given how much the American campaigns have been beaten into our heads.
Well with Opposing Fronts we have exactly that: two new campaigns, the first with the Germans defending against a British invasion, and the second the British’s own campaign. The campaigns are well fleshed out, with both good story and good game play coming from the strong design that is such a hallmark of Relics’s excellence. The Germans favour fast, aggressive behaviour, in the theme of Blitzkrieg, palying as you do the Panzer Elite, working to drive back the allies in operation market garden. The British represent the combined British and Canadian forces taking part in the liberation of Caen. Both these battles and campaigns are sadly misrepresented in the modern game industry, so it’s a good thing to see them playable with such style in Opposing Fronts.
In multiplayer Opposing Front combines in its compatibility with the original the ability to play any of the four factions, which allows players to pick from any of four quite different play styles. This should extend the lifetime of the game even further online, although probably not to Dawn of Wars status with its impressive seven races. However the dynamic weather system now introduced, along with night fighting, brings the graphical and atmospheric level of the genre to new heights.
In conclusion, Company of Heroes Opposing Fronts is an excellent game in its own right, and a worthy expansion to the original title. The two new races are well thought out and their campaigns extremely well designed. The nature of the new factions is refreshing, and when combined with the new dynamic weather system adds a nice new shine to the old WW2 formula. The reviewer would highly recommend this game to any RTS fans.