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.
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.
Posted in: Editorial
Tags: Call of Duty Stalingrad, Command and Conquer Generals, Company of Heroes, Company of Heroes 2, Company of Heroes 2 controversy, Company of Heroes 2 metacritic, Company of Heroes 2 offends, Company of Heroes 2 Russia, GLA, Video Game Blogs, Video game news, Video Games