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by: Peffy
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Following the success of Sudden Strike CDV will soon be releasing Cossacks European Wars, another RTS title but this time based on European conflict between the 16th and 18th centuries. The developers have gone all out to bring a real authentic feel to the proceedings so get ready to shout “Charge!” and pile into battle.
The game
Cossacks will give the gamer the opportunity to play a huge variety of different historical factions, Algeria, Austria, England, France, Netherlands, Piemonte, Poland, Portugal, Prussia, Russia, Saxony, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine and Venice and each faction, as you would expect, comes with its own unique unit types. With each unit comes different strategies and this is where Cossacks should shine, this is one game that plays heavily on knowing your units and their strengths and weaknesses.
The game play itself is an interesting mix of resource management and strategy. Cossacks certainly plays heavily on the strategic element and the units have been designed to take advantage of this. Unlike other RTS games it’s unadvisable to send your men piling into battle without some sort of strategic planning. Each unit type will perform better in certain formations or from strategic vantage points on the terrain. The formation system is an integral part of the game and assuming you have a commander on the battlefield with your troops they can be placed in just about any formation imaginable, from straight lines to protective box formations to protect artillery or command units. The inclusion of the formation system certainly adds to the game’s appeal and the developers seem to have have pulled this off very well.
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The game doesn’t just focus on combat, there is also an extensive tech tree to work your way through giving access to better units, abilities and buildings. There are many similarities to Age of Empires 2 as far as the way the tech trees are structured with upgrades available to each building to unlock better units but Don’t think this is just an AOE clone, the game play is very different and certainly on a larger scale.
No RTS game would be complete without it’s resources and Cossacks is no different. Each side will have to make use of the map’s natural resources which includes food, wood, stone, gold, iron, and coal. Food is probably the most important resource which is produced by creating farms, the game relies on you assigning villagers, built from the main town hall, to harvest the crops. If you run low on crops the people will start to starve and you’ll see them keel over with hunger and die, not a good move letting the food resource get low.  The mineral deposits can be gathered via mines which can take up to five mine workers, and again your armies depend on these resources to keep going, for example, artillery and handgun shots require  iron and coal. These mines won’t run out of resource so as long as you can hold onto them the minerals should keep rolling in, especially if you upgrade each mine with tunnels for more efficient mining.
The speed the game moves at should keep any hardened RTS gamer on their toes. The AI in the single player is no slouch, it’s all out war from the start of single player missions and the game required some real quick thinking and building right from the off. The game features either single player maps, randomly generated maps or full campaigns and the developers certainly throw you right into the action in the campaign games. The majority of the campaign games feature scripted sequences, usually with an AI ally, with mission goals changing throughout. It took a few attempts to get to grips with the Cossacks’ campaigns, this game features some real tough missions. The build we have here only features a few of the missions and there are some niggly AI issues that will need to be sorted out but the few missions we have played are certainly varied.
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Cossacks features a bizarre building and peasant capture feature that’s going to be interesting, especially in multiplayer. If you take a a unit and run it up to an enemy building that building them becomes your property and likewise for enemy peasants. The only way to capture a building back is to take one of your units and tag the building to make it your own again. This feature is certainly going to cause a few problems in multiplayer especially if you have 100’s of enemy units storming into your base, this may be one feature that could cause a few balancing and game play problems but then again, with the right defense like walls and towers this won’t be so easy to pull off.
The developers have made sure battles are as realistic as possible by not only including land warfare but also sea battles of epic proportions. Sea battles in RTS games are either a hit or miss affair but the attention to detail in Cossacks is brilliant. Again sea battles in Cossacks are a highly strategic affair so making sure your ships are in the right formation for maximum cannon coverage is an important part of the game play. Not only is the ship detail fantastic but each ship type has it’s own characteristics and movement so getting to know your vessels is just as important as getting to know your land units.
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The build we have been checking out is about 80% complete and the game’s graphics are very polished. The detail on units and structures is top-notch, everything is so crisp and clear allowing you identify the different building and unit types very easily. The game can also go up to a very high resolution of 1600×1200, assuming you video card can handle it, allowing you see as much of the battles as possible, this is definitely an advantage as  some of the battles could have 100’s of units in combat all at once. If you’re familiar with CDV’s other RTS title Sudden Strike then you know what to expect as far as the terrain is concerned. The landscapes are very rich with some nice animated features, especially the water and the land gradient changes are easy to spot allowing you to take advantage of key strategic positions which are so vital to the success of missions.
Having played through quite a few of the missions now, Cossacks is certainly shaping up very nicely indeed, it looks great and should offer a more complex slant on the RTS genre with it’s variety of units, formation system and tech tree structure. Watching hundred of units all in position on the battlefield getting ready to charge into action is particularly satisfying and will appeal to any armchair general. You won’t have to wait too long to get your paws on Cossacks, the game hits the shelves on the 3oth of march so look out for it then.


Originally posted: (LINK) (ARCHIVED)

Date of publish: around 13.02.2001

Author: Paul Younger

Language of publish: english

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