Standalone expansion. Is it just me, or is that something of an oxymoron? How can you expand something if you don't even need to own the original thing in the first place? It's a particularly pertinent question as far as the new Company of Heroes disc is concerned, since this standalone package doesn't really offer much in the way of new content. It's clearly not a sequel, but then its slim pickings don't do all that much to expand the game either.
Company of Heroes, of course, was and still is absolutely ace, coaxing top marks from the mercurial Mr Gillen back in 2006. One of the finest RTS games of the last few years, it rose above the herd of similar World War 2 strategy titles and showed that veteran Canadian developer Relic wasn't about to live up to its name.
But when you've got a game that's been so universally acclaimed, where do you take it next? Keep churning out the same stuff and you risk familiarity curdling into contempt. Change things too much and you lose whatever it was that made people go gooey to start with. Fans of this meatiest of strategy challenges therefore can't help but have shivered a little when designer Chris Degnan told us that there was "a drive to make a more casual, friendly experience" for Tales of Valor. Has the 10/10 titan of wartime RTS fallen prey to the dreaded dumbing down?