Company of Heroes 2: Ardennes Assault
Top Critic Average
It's £10/$15 too expensive, but Ardennes Assault is still a fine addition to any RTS fan's library.
CoH 2: Ardennes Assault is an adept interweaving of the strategic, tactical, and personal facets of warfare.
There's no question that Ardennes Assault is a worthwhile addition to the Company of Heroes war chest and one that rewards investment and exploration with a tactically satisfying campaign. That said, such is the obtuse nature of its presentation of key concepts and even basic controls that new recruits should deduct a whole mark from that number below.
Ardennes Assault represents an intriguing twist on the established Company of Heroes 2 formula, introducing a strategic element that adds to the scope of the combat and offers a more complete picture of the Battle of the Bulge than has typically been possible in a real-time strategy game. In that, Relic's latest standalone expansion represents the best elements of real-time and turn-based strategy, making it worth playing for anyone who appreciates the form and likes to see it taken in new directions.
Company of Heroes 2: Ardennes Assault doesn't completely shake up the whole Company of Heroes formula and turn it on its head, but instead, just like Company of Heroes 2 did to the original, it tweaks and alters the features of the core game for the better. It's a bit pricey, but you will get many hours of strategic and tactical fun from this standalone expansion.
The game offers different perspectives. Its game play is predicated on cause and effect. In short, there are a lot of moving parts that take time to master. The fast-paced nature of the campaign leaves little room to take a breath when in the middle of a mission. While this is a little overwhelming for new players, it certainly offers an awful lot of excitement and replay value.
Relic's attempt to create a more dynamic single player campaign is partially successful, but the systems of company permanence don't entirely gel with the inflexibility of an Iron Man save system, and the map is light on grand strategy.
Company of Heroes 2: Ardennes Assault is both a worthwhile expansion for series fans and standalone game for those new to the series. With a non-linear campaign structure and thrilling missions, Ardennes Assault earns a high recommendation.
While still an RTS, Ardennes Assault takes a lot of cues from wargames. By opening it up and providing countless meaningful choices and random events, Relic has put the war in the players' hands. It's not a directed journey through a bunch of scenarios where winning is all that matters; it's a persistent struggle where failure is always nipping at the Americans' heels, where an entire company can be lost in battle, making the war seem even more desperate. It's exhausting, and the best game in the Company of Heroes series.
If you can overlook the price and potential early learning curve depending on your familiarity with the series, Ardennes Assault offers a very competent and compelling RTS experience.