I found a bargain in a local GAME sore last weekend. "Company of Heroes" limited edition (includes Dawn of War full game) for only €30. GAME appears to be slowly winding down its selection of PC games and when you buy a PC game the assistants do their best to convince you that your PC isn't powerful enough to run it.I do not look forward to the day when the only way to get PC games will be to download from the internet. I am very old school - I get great pride from casting my eye over my shelves of gaming boxes (every one of them legally acquired) and selecting a well loved title.
Anyway Company of Heroes works just fine on my 7300GT DDR3 at 1280x1024 with medium to high detail settings. My main gaming graphics card died a couple of months back and knowing that Vista and DX10 were around the corner I set a budget of €100 for a replacement. This 7300 DDR3 version stood head and shoulders above everything else in its price range, it has slightly better performance than a 7600 GS. It cost under €100 including shipping and gives me about 60% of the performance of my older €300 card. (Aside I will never buy a graphics card from ASUS again. That card an ASUS X800XL failed 3 times in 18 months despite being returned to vendor for repair. ASUS themselves never once responded to my requests for service despite a pretend 3 year warranty).
Anyway Company of Heroes looks good, very good. In PCZone Company of Heroes knocked the Total War games off the top of the rankings for the first time in n-years. I am still working through the tutorial but the game looks and feels beautiful. The superb graphics and sound really add to the immersion of the game. So far the game play seems to be a fairly standard but just very well done. After playing Total War games with 1000's of troops on a battlefield it can be disappointing to go back to Age of Empires style games where a devastating horde consists of 20 troops. This isn't a problem in Company of Heroes because small squads seem more natural for the WW2 period. I will report more later when I have played the game itself for a bit.