Review: Company of Heroes for iOS

Feral Interactive has been at the forefront of PC-to-iOS game conversions, and its latest conquest is the highly rated 2006 real-time strategy game Company of Heroes ($13.99) by Relic Entertainment. Does Feral's iOS prowess reincarnate a nearly 15 year old classic into the modern era of touch-based gesture gaming? Read on to find out.

I played the original Company of Heroes on a Pentium V PC desktop running Windows XP; yet even back in that era, the graphic fidelity, sonic treatment, and engaging cutscenes made it a showpiece title. That same presentation has been brought to the iPad as a result of Feral Interactive's talented iOS developers. But instead of requiring a heavy PC desktop with loud cooling fans running to keep the hungry power slurping CPU and GPU of the PC active, they have managed to condense the full mouse-clicking intensive game into a touch-based tablet or phone experience. 

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Company of Heroes iPhone

The game follows Able and Fox infantry and airborne divisions. Starting with a Saving Private Ryan-style opening landing on the beaches of Normandy, the player taps their way through the liberation of France during World War 2, directing their troops from a god-like top down view of the action. The game looks and plays identically to the original source, with extra care focusing on the touch-based aspects of the interface. While it can be played on the iPhone, the ideal playing surface is an iPad, giving plenty of space to tap on the miniscule individual soldiers to issue their offensive and defensive orders. 

Company of Heroes Cinematic

To learn all the nuances of the interface along with the variety of orders that can be issued, the game includes a detailed four-step tutorial that competently covers the gameplay mechanics. The game also has four levels of difficulty, great for those new to the game as well as seasoned veterans like me who already know what challenges await.

Company of Heroes Touch Controls

Even though the game is ancient compared to modern PC RTS masterpieces, it holds up quite well (though the cutscenes definitely show off the resolution and animation limitations of the original). Graphically, the game looks as beautiful on an iPhone or iPad as any other modern day iOS game. However, be sure to have plenty of available storage on your device before installing it, as it requires over 4 gigabytes. It also has a peculiar installation scheme where the base game is downloaded, followed by 10 individual free in-app purchases (IAP's). I suspect this approach was adopted to allow players with limited storage space to choose which portions of the game they wanted installed on their devices. That said, the best way to experience the game is to go all-in and download the whole smash. 

Company of Heroes Normandy Landing

Speaking of IAP's, Feral is planning to release the two expansions for the game, Opposing Forces and Tales of Valor some time in the future. This depends on the success of the game's sales. For Company of Heroes fans who want to re-experience the classic on the go, this is a must-buy. For casual gamers looking for an engrossing, WW2 RTS with a lengthy campaign and numerous skirmish modes, the game's asking price is worth the cost of admission, though some may benefit waiting for a sale at a later date.

Pros

  • Identical to the PC classic
  • Optimized for the touchscreen experience
  • Dozens of hours of gameplay

Cons

  • Huge install size
  • Expensive

Final Verdict

Overall, I am continually impressed with the superlative game conversion skills that Feral continues to deliver. Now if only there were a way to clone their team so even more PC gaming classics can make their way to iOS at an even faster rate!

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Author Details

Mike Riley's picture

Author Details

Mike Riley

Mike Riley is a frequent contributor to several technical publications and specializes in emerging technologies and new development trends. Mike was previously employed by RR Donnelley as the company’s Chief Scientist, responsible for determining innovative technical approaches to improve the company’s internal and external content services. Mike also co-hosted Computer Connection, a technology enthusiast show broadcast on Tribune Media's CLTV.