The creators of Cossacks have returned with another epic historical RTS, this time the setting is in the Americas from 1492 to the war of 1812. Fans of the gargantuan battles found in Cossacks will be pleased with the refinements made in this version, but I myself found the gameplay rather tiresome after extended exposure.
I’d honestly have to say the best description of a standard battle in American Conquest is “meat grinder”. Of course, since the game tries hard to mimic the tactics and scenarios of, brutal and inefficient fighting is par for the course. History buffs will delight in the amount of detail in the game, from the details of the soldiers to the incredibly longwinded mission briefings that double as an excellent history lessons. The missions are long, the battles huge and bloody, and the tactics are for the most party historically accurate. This is probably as close as we’re going to get to accurately depicting combat without going to a turn-based combat system.
The problem is, after about ten hours of gameplay, I started getting bored with it. Defeating missions was formulaic: build lots of soldiers. LOTS of soldiers. Send them in waves after the enemy buildings, rushing them inside to capture them. From there it’s a matter of “building hopping” until the base is yours. This plan starts with heavy, heavy casualties on the attacker, but eventually, after a few buildings have been captured, the steamroller affect cannot be stopped. It doesn’t help that the AI isn’t smart enough to try to take back their own buildings or kill the shooters inside. It’s possible to take a building, tell the captors to shoot at the windows of the adjacent building until most are dead, then just waltz a few soldiers in and take it over. Rinse, wash, repeat.
I’d like to think that open field combat was better, but it usually devolves into an orgy of color and sound, and it’s pretty much impossible to tell what’s going on, even in the zoomed out view. Units do not stay in formation, and although the formation/squad/army interface seemed simple, it rarely worked. In the end, the side with the most units or support from captured buildings wins.
Slightly related to this problem are the missions themselves. I never really found myself all that interested in what I was doing, or why. In fact, usually the briefing itself, with its meticulous historical detail, was much more interesting than the mission itself.
Not much has changed from Cossacks to American Conquest in the graphics department. Things look good up close, with lots of little details. The zoomed out view isn’t quite as pretty, though, and a lot of the detail that distinguishes one unit from another is lost in this view. This makes battles particularly difficult, because the only way to really get an idea of what’s going on is in the zoomed out view, but at the same time you can’t tell who’s who.
The sound effects are particularly good, especially the booming thunder of cannon fire and the loud crack of a formation of rifleman firing in unison. The music d didn’t fair quite as well, however, as it quickly became repetitive and annoying.
I must say that I really did enjoy the control setup for American Conquest. There are lots of controls options, lots of things can be automated or adjusted quickly, and there are a lot of small innovations in the controls that make things go very smoothly. In a game this huge, this is probably the only thing that saves it from the muddy annuls of mediocrity.
Overall my opinion of American Conquest is simply “bleh”. History buffs and fans of Cossacks should find enough here to keep them entertained, but joe-average gamer will probably find his time better spent on Age of Mythology or WarCraft III.
Score: 6.0 “Fair”
INFORMATION ABOUT THIS CONTENT:
Date of publish: 17.04.2003
Author: Kevin Weiser
Language of publish: english