Company of Heroes was met with universal acclaim on its 2006 release, and with good reason. And Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts can only add to the praise.

Company of Heroes brought to the forefront some of the most innovative RTS (real-time strategy) concepts milling about, and combined it with the hackneyed and humdrum Second World War setting to create a genre-defining classic.

A little more than a year later, Relic has released the first expansion of Company of Heroes, bringing two new armies to the field, two new campaigns, plenty of maps - and most importantly - a hell of a lot of fun.

Choosing sides

The largest addition that Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts brings to the original game is the inclusion of two new sides: the German Panzer Elite, and the British Army. The Panzer Elite are largely focused on the vehicle side of things, but they do eschew the heavy tanks for tank destroyers like the Marder III, and light vehicles such as armored cars. Almost all of their units can be upgraded or specialised in some way, giving this side far more customization than perhaps any other in the game.

The British, however, are more constricting. They go into battle with only three mobile command trucks to call on for construction, and therefore are notably restricted in their unit makeup in Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts.

What the British do excel at in Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts is taking and holding territory, having a natural edge towards defensive with powerful entrenchment abilities, such as slit trenches. While more expensive one-for-one, most of the British units can fight off more than their numbers if supplied with some of the leader units that are made available to the player that enhance the default abilities and strengths of British units.

It's good that both sides are designed so well, because you'll be spending a lot of time with each in the two single-player campaigns in Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts. In the first campaign, you command elements of the Panzer Lehr division defending against British and American forces during Operation Market Garden. This is followed by a second campaign following the British as they move to take Caen during the initial Normandy campaign.

Together, the two Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts campaigns are just slightly longer than the campaign provided in the original game. The missions themselves are of a good mix, rotating between hard fought defensive operations, hill captures, and city fighting; the only disappointment being that some of the maps are reused as the campaigns go on.