Company of Heroes 2 Has Mightily Upset Its Russian Fans

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Since it emphasized all of the things I like about RTS games, and played down the aspects that keep me away, the original “Company of Heroes” won me over in 2006, and even snagged a few game of the year awards.

However, even though I knew a sequel was due out, I wasn’t exactly waiting with bated breath. That being the case, its release was a pretty quiet one and besides hearing some vague rumblings of it being pretty good, since it didn’t shake the world like the original, that was about the extent of my knowledge regarding the release until recently.

What happened? Well in pursuing Metacritic, I stumbled on “Company of Heroes 2” and couldn’t help but notice that while the critic’s score was a respectable 80, the user review was a not so respectable 2.0

Why the discrepancy? Was it “SimCity” style DRM issues? Was it “Kane and Lynch” critic bribing being revealed? Was the review version completely different or something?

No, actually, it turns out the negative reviews come almost entirely from Russian gamers offended over the portrayal of the Russian army in the game, where they commit a fair number of atrocities including shooting their own men, sending soldiers out with no guns, and in general being kind of evil, moral free bastards with whatever it takes mentalities.

The uncomfortable part of this matter is that many occurrences portrayed are actually based off of historically accurate events. While many of the games detractors acknowledge that, the problem seems to be that the major focus on the army is on those negative occurrences, to the point that playing like a dick becomes an integral gameplay aspect.

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Honestly my first reaction to this was a hearty “lighten up” as it sounded like a case of overly sensitive people trashing a title for virtual slights. Not to mention the whole “soldiers going to battle without guns” thing was done in the original “Call of Duty,” and I don’t remember anyone throwing a hissy fit about it.

Though I suppose that it was portrayed more heroically there, rather than in a manner of considering the mass death of your soldiers to be “tactically sound.”

Actually I think that is the whole point to this protest. Few had a bloodier and more brutal WWII than the Russians, yet in mainstream (especially American) entertainment, their contributions are mostly either ignored, belittled, or reduced to the most horrific tales of war as a plot device where other countries get to be the heroes.

Russian gamers probably saw “COH 2” as a chance for their story to be told in a way that people might actually get to experience. No doubt upon seeing that their army plays like a more hardcore version of the GLA from “Command and Conquers: Generals,” they thought instead that here is another game that fails to focus on anything but the negative, and will probably add to the general, not entirely accurate, perception of the Russians in WWII that too many share.

It likely wasn’t the intention of the “COH 2″ developers to offend Russian players so tremendously, but considering that is exactly what happened, it’s probably time they swallowed their own pride and started making heartfelt apologies rather than the “We apologize…but that stuff still totally happened” stance they are taking now.

Ubisoft is Interested in Buying THQ

The ongoing financial situation plaguing THQ Games has been well documented, and recently resulted in such actions as the company hosting a prolific, and somewhat successful, humble bundle sale, but still ultimately filing for bankruptcy and selling their assets to the Clearlake Capital Group for $60 million. It’s a sad situation not only for the employees of THQ, but for gamers as well, as THQ still has quite a few high quality franchises to its name, including “Metro”, the WWE games, “Darksiders”, “Company of Heroes”, “Warhammer”, and “Saints Row”. Now, though, the future of those titles, and more, is cast in serious doubt even as THQ seemingly remains active for the moment.

However, some hopeful news has emerged from the whole matter recently, as there is a rumor that Ubisoft is seriously interested in buying the properties of THQ. While the early reports suggest they will be waiting until THQ is a little more certain (and, frankly, desperate) that they will be selling their properties in order to get a better price, Ubisoft has been clear with their interest in the assets should they have the opportunity.

“We are always interested in good brands.” Says Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot, “For sure, it’s something we can consider, but I can’t tell you more.”

While the option is out there for Ubisoft to snatch certain titles, it’s looking more likely they will be eyeing the entire line up. From an outside perspective, this would be a real win, win for all parties if the buyout happens, as it would not only save the reeling developer, but Ubisoft would add some substantial games to its already stacked repertoire. For gamers who are interested in THQ’s titles, there couldn’t be a better interested buyer than Ubisoft, as the two company’s philosophies concerning quality development are very similar, and Ubisoft has proved to be one of the most consistent developers and publishers of the last decade.

As bad as this whole ordeal has been for THQ, it’s good to know that it may not be game over for the company just yet.

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