Date of publish: 17/10/2020 11:34 CET
Add-on to GSC’s popular 18th century strategy fun-fest.
The original game was built from the kind of detail and premise, that normally only beardy-types enjoy, GSC Gameworld’s title being based around 16-18th century trade and naval wars in Europe of the period. You’d expect such a historically accurate title to be the stable diet of the turn-based strategy gamer (frequently called Reg, or Norman, dare I suggest), but low and behold Cossacks was a more fast-paced real-time strategy affair – proving more action-orientated than its setting implies. A pleasant surprise, then, and the public obviously agreed too, as the add-on pack proudly wears a badge proclaiming “More than 300,000 copies worldwide!”, which can’t be bad.
GSC Gameworld and German publishers CDV seem to have latched on to this too, quickly turning their hand to an add-on for their shock-hit. So here we have Cossacks: The Art of War, landing with a gentle thud upon our critical-doormats.
So is it any good? Well, that kind of depends on whether you enjoyed the original, which was okay. This, in-turn, really depended upon whether you enjoyed the swashbuckling setting, as many did, complete with numerous historical touches. The AI was average, as were the graphics – it certainly wasn’t groundbreaking, but neither was it fundamentally flawed either, a spark of originality coming in the style and scenery, if nothing else. It also had a simply vast collection of units and game options too, thus at least providing value for money.
The add-on seems to expand upon the basis of these values too, adding numerous units, scenarios, settings and maps to those already present. More of the historical accuracy parades itself once again (including the English civil war), and a few new additions to battle command which should make your life easier. For those that really enjoy this game, there’s even a Map Editor – which is fairly easy to use, if not adding massively to the game’s appeal.
The AI has been improved, though still won’t be joining MENSA any time soon, as your units still have the annoying habit of misbehaving – a common flaw in many games of the genre. A couple of new countries have entered the fray, diversifying the experience further, namely Bavaria and Denmark. Though perhaps the biggest change to the game is the addition of a spate of new naval units, and corresponding maps / campaigns, which should add greatly to the longevity of the game if nothing else.
All in all, then, The Art of War is more of the same; the graphics are nicely detailed, if not inspired, the sound is okay – and the gameplay is very detailed and very long, if you enjoy it. If you liked the last one, this is a must, if you didn’t, then this won’t be changing your mind. Historians will love it…
by Luke Guttridge
Original date of publish: 07.03.2002