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Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts

Company Of Heroes was the strategy game of last year - brutal, brilliant and full of brawn. Can the sequel reach similar heights? Suzy Wallace tracks its progress...

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Let's face it, we've all played WWII titles as the Americans or the British, but this opportunity to see the war from the other side throws up a refreshingly different set of challenges. Mosqueira reasons: "It's one thing to always play as the Allies, but at a certain point I think people get a little tired of that and they want something different. Recalling the soldiers' story from the German perspective was important.

"At this point in the war, most German troops knew the end was in sight, so how do you deal with that? You're fighting for your homeland so that what happened at the end of World War I doesn't repeat itself. So there's some really interesting drama. But at the same time, we have to do it in a respectful manner. We make sure there are researchers looking into things - all of our scripts are sent over to Germany to be vetted."

Doing The Caen-Caen
Perhaps even more so than in COH, super-strong single-player experiences are a prime aim for Opposing Fronts.


"We're aiming for the same length in total as the original COH, so expect to have a good 15-20 hours of gameplay," says Mosqueira. "As you start, you'll get to choose the Caen campaign as the British or the Market Garden campaign as the Panzer Elite. You'll be able to swap, so if you've played a couple of missions in one, you'll be able to start up the other one as well. It's important to know that it's not a mirror campaign; each campaign is entirely separate and has its own missions, its own maps and its own objectives."

In Caen, when the Allies arrived, Hitler had some of his best SS Panzer divisions placed around the city, which led to some of the largest tank battles fought during the war. Here, playing as the Brits, this intense urban warfare takes place among some of the most devastated landscapes that COH has offered, with barely a wall left standing in the entire city. There's also a truly inspired setting in the form of the innards of a blasted cathedral, complete with missing roof and crumbling walls.

Carota mentions a particularly nice little touch: "In all of our cities in OF, you can actually see in the distance the cities that you're going to go to. When you've completed the first mission, you're actually looking at Caen - and during the mission you can look over and see it, Carpiquet or Hill 112."

Market Research
The other campaign, Operation Market Garden, in which the Germans attempt to repel the largest airborne assault in history, offers its own opportunities. "It's important for me and the rest of the art team to visit a new place like Holland, because we're getting pretty sick of Normandy," laughs Carota. He continues: "Playing as the Panzer Elite in the Market Garden campaign gives you a chance to see the conflict from the other side. After all, you do play both sides, and that was a tremendous advantage in the narrative, to be able to allow a sense of empathy to appear."

Whatever campaign you're playing though, Relic are working hard to make each level unique. Carota explains: "In this game, I'm really concerned with making sure that every level you play is memorable, so that when players go and talk about it with their friends, there won't be any confusion between different missions. They'll be like, 'You know, Caen counter-attack, at night when the lightning's coming, and then the King Tiger rolls in. Oh, I crapped my pants!" As you can tell, the crapping of pants is a big deal at the home of Relic.

Fighting Talk
War has been described as 90% boredom, 10% terror. With the former in mind, OF will offer a wide variety of combat scenarios, including the counter-attack missions seen in levels such as Carentan, epic tank battles, elite infantry skirmishes, fighting over bridges, a level in which troops and tanks arrive via gliders and lots of conflict in the forest. Mosqueira adds: "In COH, we had very little forest-based fighting, but now we've implemented it properly."

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