Had I not played Company of Heroes, I would not have even bothered to take a look at this expansion pack. Had I not been amazed at the huge marks it received in reviews, I wouldn’t even have read the articles. Had I not played a couple of minutes, then a couple of hours and then a couple of weeks, I would have lost a lot in terms of gaming culture and I would have placed CoH into the same category as the rest of the “WW II strategy games”. Fortunately, I did, and I watched amazed as a revolution formed, as Relic did exactly what I was waiting for a long time: rejuvenated the genre without major and unwelcomed changes. They simply added elements that have transformed a game with a well-known gameplay into a drug that keeps you glued to your seat and on your toes during multiplayer matches.
After the success scored with CoH, Relic started working on Opposing Fronts, the expansion that brings to the table the exact ingredients we wanted from its predecessor when it came to single-player: the chance to control other armies, because although the campaign with the American forces was very good, it’s only an appetizer and at the end you really feel the need to get your hands on a King Tiger in the single-player mode. My wish has come true and now the soldiers of the Panzer Elite are under my control and along with them we can command the British 2nd Army.
There are two single-player campaigns in Opposing Fronts, which can be completed one at a time or in tandem (jumping from one to the other) but the stories never cross paths. Operation Market Garden presents an important part of World War 2, when the Allied forces tried to capture important strategic areas in Holland to cross the Rhine into Germany using airborne forces. The story is centered around two brothers in the German army, who have to stop the Allied attacks and fortify strategic locations. This time, the forces under your command are based on the speed, resistance and versatility of tanks and motorized units, so now you will be able to extensively use the powerful German vehicles, that most of the times seem impenetrable.
But the most interesting characteristic of the Panzer Elite is the infantry’s ability to repair tanks on the battlefield, so there are times when small service operations can be made right in the thick of battle, which are very useful when it comes to quickly restarting an attack. This mechanic is completed by the Bergentiger, a unit that can salvage tanks even after their destruction, a sort of necromancer that can bring back to life an entire motorized army that has been prematurely put out of service. The long time that is necessary for this recovery makes the Bergentiger a dangerous unit to use in multiplayer, but for the campaign, if the AI triggers and the terrain are studied carefully, it can mean you have a Messiah at your disposal.
The second campaign also takes place in the summer of 1944, at a time when the British forces under your command are fighting to free the French city of Caen. Unlike the Panzer Elite, the British 2nd Army will be used by those that want to build powerful fortifications to defend their secured positions. The infantry is very expensive and most of the time it takes for a lieutenant to coordinate the troops, a unit that must be recruited separately. Tanks are usually no match for their German counterparts, but engineers have the ability to quickly produce entire lines of defense, from sandbags to the powerful Howitzers. Also, bunkers can be equipped with more powerful machine guns, or trenches can be quickly created, which are excellent defenses for the infantry.