With all the visual enhancements enabled, Company of Heroes looks stunning, easily making one of the best looking RTS games of all time. However, as a result you can expect many computers to struggle playing this game with all the eye candy turned on. This can be quite disappointing for some because as good as the gameplay and fun factor is in CoH, having visual settings set at their maximum really does this game justice.
Therefore, before purchasing this game or even considering a hardware upgrade, it will be important to know first if your computer will run it, and second how good it will actually look while at it. There is indeed a massive difference between low and high quality settings in Company of Heroes, suggesting older systems will still be able to run this title, which is always good news. However like I said, this game looks fantastic and playing it with low visual quality settings is almost criminal... a graphics card upgrade may be in order for some fanatics!
If you are wondering what's under the hood of CoH (besides the Havok 3 Physics Engine), here's an excerpt from Wikipedia's entry for the game:
Company of Heroes is the first game to make use of Relic's next generation engine, known as the "Essence Engine". This engine was designed and coded from scratch by Relic in order to make use of all next-generation graphical effects, including High Dynamic Range lighting, dynamic lighting & shadows, advanced shader effects and normal mapping. As producer John Johnson puts it "We will have every advanced graphical effect you'd expect from a game like Half-Life 2, and more."
For our testing purposes we have put together an average gaming platform. Rather than going with a much newer and expensive Intel Core 2 or AMD Athlon X2 processor, we chose an Athlon 64, as we believe it better represents the average gamer rig at the present time.
That said, if your particular graphics card does well on our Athlon64 3800+ system, then it is a given that it will run just as well on a Core 2 Duo, for example. The system has also been fitted with 1GB of memory rather than 2GBs. Since most gamers still get by with 1GB of memory, we felt it would make more sense.
We tested using three different in-game quality configurations (see next page for complete details) at three different resolutions (1024, 1280 and 1600). We have also put up a set of comparative screenshots depicting in-game graphics quality.
In total 14 graphics cards were tested from both ATI and Nvidia.