The release of the new Company of Heroes was accompanied by an undercurrent of unease in the West over its portrayal of the Eastern Front and the exploits of the Soviet army. In Russia, it’s been more of an overcurrent. Local distributor 1C-SoftClub last week removed the game from sale altogether following a glut of complaints.
In a news post on their website, slightly muddled via Google Translate, the distributor said that its decision to stop selling the game in Russia and CIS territories on July 26 was made “in connection with appeals of people who [considered the game] unacceptable”.
“At the moment we are analyzing the situation and [informing] the developer and publisher of Company of Heroes 2,” said 1C.
Company of Heroes publishers and Relic owners Sega are by now well aware of the situation, and released their own statement to us today.
“Sega and Relic are aware of the press stories circulating concerning Company of Heroes 2 and the historical context of the game from a Russian perspective,” said a rep. “At this time we cannot offer any further comment, however we are taking this issue very seriously and are investigating these concerns thoroughly with all relevant partners.”
1C are no strangers to issues of historical sensitivity - games they’ve introduced to the Eastern European market include Men of War: Vietnam and Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad. In neither case, however, were they compelled to remove the game from sale.
In our Company of Heroes 2 PC review, by contrast, Fraser found that Relic’s portrayal of Russian warfare didn’t seem to go far enough.
“There is a dissonance between the premise and the mechanics,” he wrote.
“Isakovich laments the brutality and cost of Soviet tactics in the cutscenes between missions, but beyond the videos and a few in-mission scripted moments, there’s little in Company of Heroes 2 that can be described as harrowing.
“Despite the Lieutenant’s protests to the contrary, troops are expendable and throwaway, and the execution of the deserters mechanic that Relic touted ends up being almost meaningless,” he added. “For set periods after fresh conscripts are deployed, a commander back at base can shoot routing troops. I only recall one single instance where I actually saw this happen.”
Some of you lot must have finished the new CoH by now. What did you make of its criticism of Soviet warfare?