Date of publish: 10/08/2020 20:23 CET
Cossacks: European Wars has been touted as an Age Of Empires killer, but this reviewer isn’t ready to unseat the reigning champion of RTS games.
Cossacks does offer a tighter focus on the incessant colonial and continental conflicts of the 17th and 18th centuries among European powers, as well as the opportunity to command units that rarely appear in war games (such as Russian Strelets). But historically focused war-gamers will be disappointed to learn that none of the historically based battles or campaigns (The Thirty Years War, The Seven Years War, The Continental War, The War For The Spanish Succession, and The Northern War) are playable except in multiplayer mode against a human opponent. In solitaire mode, players can choose from 10 generic missions, five campaigns where history is little more than an artificial method of linking several Warcraft-type scenarios, or create an endless array of random-map games for up to seven computer or human opponents.
Although random generation theoretically increases the replay value of a game infinitely, underlying factors can certainly detract from a player’s willingness to come back again and again. In Cossacks, the detrimental factors arise from the computer AI routines. Computer-controlled forces do some things brilliantly (like sending cavalry raiding parties behind your lines to capture unguarded buildings, forcing you to maintain a strong garrison), but they also demonstrate some abysmally poor tactical judgment at times. For example, when you are building a wall around your main city but have not yet completed it, enemy units often walk up to one of the finished sections of the wall and lay siege to it instead of walking around the end (even if it is just a couple of hexes away) and attacking the lightly guarded town instead. Additionally, it will send pikemen down to the shore to oppose one of your ships that is conducting a shore bombardment; then they will dutifully stand in ranks to be obliterated by your cannon. Do not infer from this that the game is easy to beat. It is not, but the computer opponent’s advantage is not based on skill, but on mass.
Cossacks: European Wars suffers from Y.A.T.W. syndrome (Yours Against the World). Granted, the ultimate objective of most games like this is world conquest, but at least give the computer opponents some pretense of fighting with one another instead of having some secret alliance to focus almost entirely on your units. I am willing to concede that this may not be the case in every game, but I have played a dozen so far and, in every instance, as soon as I initiated hostilities with one power, all of them came knocking on my door. Also, if I adopted the Pax Britannia approach of simply building the strongest kingdom that I could without harassing my neighbors, when they eventually chose to attack, not one but three or more opponents would be laying siege to the kingdom…
[…] The rest of the review has been lost in the dark pots of the internet. […]
PROs: The free market economic system devoid of the need to maintain trade routes is excellent; the technology tree is robust; the basic developmental and combat interfaces are easy to manipulate.
CONs: AI units often waste themselves in fruitless attacks and fail to respond to threats; random map games against multiple computer opponents almost always result in a gang bang; even when you’ve weakened an enemy to his breaking point, his neighbor will still come after you rather than take the easy pickings.