By Joseph Luster
When you think of the classics of the real-time strategy genre, which titles come to mind? For some, it might be a staple of the 90s, like the Command & Conquer series, while others might be quicker to namecheck the likes of Warcraft or StarCraft. If you narrow your focus down to just the World War II-related entries, though, it’s impossible to ignore the influence of 2006’s Company of Heroes. At a glance, it doesn’t seem like it even came out that long ago, but with a 14-year history under its belt, it’s had plenty of time to accrue a stalwart fandom of devotees who are more than ready to sing its praises.
Company of Heroes
Publisher: Feral Interactive
Relic’s Company of Heroes has endured for many reasons, not the least of which is attention to detail. There’s something awe-inspiring about the way it takes every little factor into account, from the elevation of weaponry to the way your infantry reacts to falling under attack. In many genre standards, your troops are little more than fodder designed to go where you tell them to regardless of the consequences. Getting pinned down in Company of Heroes has always been a different story entirely. Your soldiers might run back to their base if they need to, or they may simply find a good spot to take cover. If the situation goes sideways, it could even lead to a loss of morale.
This type of thoughtfulness is one of the many features that makes Company of Heroes so special, and now it’s available as an-iPad compatible iOS release, so even more people can discover what it has to offer. The folks behind this conversion are Feral Interactive, boasting previous iPad port credits like Tropico and Rome: Total War. For the most part, Feral knows how to successfully take these games and make them work on tablets of varying sizes, and the key to this all comes down to the available options.
For instance, if your iPad is big enough to make it work comfortably, you can opt for touch controls that essentially replace the mouse clicks of the original PC game. There’s also a new command wheel system that offers something a little more accessible to newcomers, particularly those who are accustomed to mobile gaming. Either way, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to learn the basics thanks to the training modes that help ease you into everything from essential controls to more advanced tactics.
Of course, some aspects of Company of Heroes have aged more than others. This mostly applies to the cutscenes, which definitely look like they came straight out of 2006, but there’s also a certain charm to seeing them just as they appeared the first time around on the iPad screen. For what they are, they look decent enough, and the way they transition straight to gameplay is still really cool.
Keep in mind that what you get here is just the base game of Company of Heroes—there’s no British expansion yet at the time of this writing—but at least it’s a complete title. Considering how monetization works for mobile games these days, it’s actually kind of novel to unlock a full game with a single purchase and be done with it!
Zombie Army Trilogy
Publisher: Rebellion Developments
If you’re in the mood to blast zombies away in a WWII setting, it doesn’t get much better than the Zombie Army Trilogy. The cult horror shooter has been kicking it with the undead since Nazi Zombie Army first launched as a standalone spinoff of the Sniper Elite series back in 2013, and now it’s coming to the place all games eventually belong: Nintendo Switch. Sure, Switch may not be nearly as powerful as a PC—or even its console competitors—but its portability finally makes it possible to take WWII-era zombie hunting on the go.
The Trilogy version first appeared on PS4, Xbox One, and PC in 2015, packing in three story campaigns and a single-player or four-player co-op Horde mode. The Switch version includes the same intense multiplayer action over the course of fifteen missions, with support for local wireless co-op, motion controls, Pro Controller and HD Rumble, as well as a new friend-invite system.
Taking down Hitler’s undead army has always had a tongue-in-cheek quality to it, and that’s never been more apparent than it is when playing all these missions back to back. Whether you’re a fan of this already, or just enjoy the Sniper Elite series and other similarly styled shooters, you’ll get a kick out of what Zombie Army Trilogy brings to the blood-soaked table. All the content previously released on consoles is present and accounted for, and the fan-favorite X-Ray Kill Cams are here in all their gruesomely gory glory.
Baron: Fur is Gonna Fly
Publisher: Dogmelon Games
System: Switch, Xbox One, PC
Now, for something a little lighter—and a little earlier than WWII if we’re getting specific—we have Baron: Fur is Gonna Fly. This adorable-looking aerial combat game takes place in 1917, where patriotic animals take to the skies to challenge any would-be competitors who think they can out-match them in the quest for dogfighting glory. Short of every single animal being a dog, this is about as close to literal dogfighting as one could get.
In Baron, players can choose from one of four biplanes with early 20th century inspirations behind them. They all have unique stats, too, from handling to shields and overall-ºspeed capabilities. Thanks to the fact that an actual aircraft engineer was involved in development, the goal is to hit just the right balance between free and loose arcade fun and more nuanced physics. As for the weapons, all planes have a gatling gun and one of 13 special weapons, including the likes of massive anvils, smelly fish, and a black hole that can suck in any opponent that gets too close.
Baron allows for showdowns of up to eight players, with hyper-stylized visuals backing the action. There are basic multiplayer matches that pit all players against one another, and there are also team-based fights that let you form a high-flying squadron of your own. If you want to test the skies for yourself, you can now pick this one up on Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.