So after the CoH 2 announcement, I've been getting all giddy reliving my CoH memories. And it got me to thinking about WW2 gaming in general.
I actually didn't like WW2 as theme for a long time. It felt overdone, constrained, and targeted at history buffs ( which I was not ). In fact, I didn't buy Company of Heroes for several months because it was set in WW2 ( didn't help that I was working on a WW2 game at the time ). But CoH completely rocked my world ( still the best RTS of all time IMHO ) and I now think that the WW2 setting was a critical part of that.
The gameplay you get from a WW2 game is unique, and I believe this is because you have all the elements of modern combat, but in very rough, early stages. You have rifles, automatics, tanks, planes, ships, transports, bunkers, artillery, rockets, even chemical warfare. In general though, each of these elements still has significant limitations; the accuracy is bad, the accelleration is slow, the ammo is limited, etc. There is all this power that has been developed, but controlling it takes a lot of work, and inevitably you have tradeoffs. As a player, I was always trying to wrestle with this duality of power and restriction; reversing my Stug, refacing my MMG, seeking cover for my Riflemen. That thought process is engaging and addictive, which is what made each battle really enjoyable.
This is in contrast to, say, a modern combat game where you call in strikes from a predator drone. Controlling a computer screen from a computer screen you say? That does not interest me one iota. Modern warfare technology has iterated too much for me to really enjoy it in a video game, and the parts I do enjoy tend to be the parts of war that never change. The fact that I am guiding these vulnerable human beings through trenches and hedgerows is a critical part of the immersion.
That, and the setting itself has quite an array of plusses as an aesthetic. Beautiful European cities and landscapes, classic melodrama, historical relevance. In any case, I am surely on-board the WW2 train these days. What about you guys? What makes it work for you? I still talk to many friends who are turned-off by WW2 as a theme, so I am always looking for new ways to turn them around.