E3 2002 impressions from GameSpy

by: Peffy
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One of the surprise announcements at the show this year – at least for fans of Cossacks: European Wars was that a sequel was in development. The downside is that we’re going to have to wait until well into next year to play Cossacks II: Napoleonic Wars, however publisher CDV will manage to keep us occupied with American Conquest, the next real-time strategy title from developer GSC Game World.

In some ways this epic game of the exploration and taming of a new world could be seen as the next logical step for the Cossacks series and actually builds on the existing game engine with a few notable improvements. Among the most important to address is that this time the game will support up to 16,000 units on the map at a time! Yes, that is 16,000 units so you can expect some truly massive battles – and makes those 50 unit population limits of the original Age of Empires seem docile in comparison.

The time span of American Conquest is also being expanded over Cossacks and the game’s eras will range from the 15th to 18th century, in essence focusing the time from when the New World was discovered until the beginnings of the independence movement sparked on by the American Revolution. These were a turbulent 300 years of history and saw a sweeping change on the actual and political landscape of North and South America.

The playable powers will include both the dominant native peoples as well as the European conquers and the even the fledging United States. With 12 powers in total you can command the British, Spanish or French while building your colonial empire – or play as the Aztec, Incan, Mayan, Algonquin, Huron and Delaware, or Pueblo Iroquois Confederacy. As with Cossacks, and for that matter Age of Empires (as that series certainly is the inspiration and a major influence for GSC Game World), the game will reflect the appropriate costumes and architecture as well as the reflecting characteristics of the Europeans and their indigenous adversaries.

Commanding these huge armies is also being addressed and anyone who has mastered Cossacks knows that the key to success is utilizing those formation options. This time around the unit formations will rely on a commander, a drummer and a standard bearer – not to mention the dozens of soldiers that will be led into the meat grinder! It will be necessary according to the development team to use these formations rather than the tried and true approach of “the rush” of forces. American Conquest has put in a morale and experience rating with each soldier, and obviously large formations tend to give men the confidence to march into battle. Should an officer fall and the formations break, the morale will suffer as well – a realistic approach to the real-time strategy style of gameplay.

Veteran troops will also fight better and will even acquire additional abilities that will come in handy as the game progresses. Unlike with other games where you can keep track of individuals, the fact that you’ll be leading thousands of men will mean that you won’t be able to tell who has more experience, but it does sound like these formations of veterans will benefit raw recruits so it seems advisable that this will be addressed by making sure you send reinforcements and replacement troops to these battle-proven formations.

New tactical elements in regard to formations will also be addressed and this time cavalry will be grouped together as well. This promises to allow devastating cavalry charges! Plus the most exciting news is that units will be able garrison forts and fortresses and defend them! Massive sieges can therefore be expected!

All this sounds ambitious but the build that was demoed on the show floor at E3 made the trip to the lower level of Kentia Hall worth every minute! American Conquest will feature four single player campaigns with more than 30 missions, as well as historical battles and random maps. The multiplayer options are being addressed this time around so multiple players can take on computer-controlled powers.

Finally, while the game is using the same basic engine as Cossacks the animations are being enhanced and the visuals are already breathtaking. The terrain is being remodeled to be appropriate to the various flora and fauna of North and South America as well as new map types that promise almost unlimited replay. Fans of Cossacks, or any historical RTS, will only be disappointed that they’ll have to wait until the end of the year to get to play American Conquest.



Originally posted: GameSpy.com (LINK) (ARCHIVED)

Date of publish: 29.05.2002

Author: Peter Suciu

Language of publish: english

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