Date of publish: 10/10/2020 16:23 CET
Most games in the real time strategy genre these days are hard pressed to be anything more than a clone of the standard RTS style gameplay of Age of Empires. Cossacks: European Wars has been able to properly utilize the gameplay mechanics of such titles as Age of Empires, and yet it is still able to expand upon it to create a true style of play all its own.
Following the RTS standard, players are granted on the start of the game several peasants to begin construction of your infrastructure. Buildings range from the Town Hall to mines from which to gather Ore, Coal and Gold. Some buildings also have incorporated into them upgrades to further your building production or defense capability. Key upgrades including adding more cannons to defensive towers or adding a complete railway system to your mines to allow for more peasants to work within the mine, thus increasing mineral extraction rates.
GSC Gameworld took the gameplay mechanics further in Cossacks by several degrees, doing things not found in most titles such as either Age of Empires title or America, by creating an in-depth micro-management system players need to carefully utilize for maximum gameplay. First off, Cossacks does not restrict players in the amount of units that can be used to defend or attack with. It is not uncommon to see waves of 50, 60 or even 80 combatants marching across the field to destroy your opponent. Cossacks in fact can have up to 8000 units on a single battlefield at any given time. Each unit is even further beefed up with multiple upgrades. Instead of having massive numbers of different style units, players are restricted to only a few due to the time frame limitations.
Cossacks is an RTS based on the late 17th and early 18th centuries. During this time guerrilla warfare was not known, as battles were fought with honor – you met your opponent on the battlefield and traded volleys. Although there are upgrades, out of the over 300 you can develop, the majority are based on historical advances from this era. Upgrades range anywhere from new hull types as carpenters learn the art of shipbuilding, to sighted barrels on artillery and firearms increasing your chances to hit. Each unit also has multiple upgrades in the attack and defense area to increase their value as a fighting force on the playing field.
Cossacks offers players a chance to play any of 16 historical nations: Austria, Algeria, England, France, Netherlands, Piedmont, Poland, Portugal, Prussia, Russia, Saxony, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine and Venice. Although units for all nations vary little, with the exception of a few race specific uniques, the dramatic difference is in the eye candy the game offers. Each race has a distinct building style and all their buildings and defenses reflect this architectural style.
Cossacks offers a number of single and multiplayer game types including four campaigns. Like most RTS game campaigns, each campaign is comprised of several scenarios which are objective-based. There are also ten assorted one-off scenarios, and a configurable random map generator that allows you to select anywhere from two to seven countries as combatants.
One of the most remarkable features I found in the game is the incorporation of maintenance requirements. Each building or unit requires a specified amount of items ranging from food, wood, gold to coal to keep the unit working, fed or repaired due to wear and tear. This maintenance fee is not a one-time thing either, but an on going drain on your resources. If not properly planned for with stocks placed in reserve, it can create dire consequences. One such consequence is mutiny. Units that are starving or not getting paid their gold allotment will turn on you and attack. One other item that compounds this problem is the fact that any civilian or structure can be captured by the enemy by simply walking up to it, and if there is no friendly combat unit around you have lost that unit or building. The fact that players must watch their units and stockpiles carefully is an extra, and welcome, dose of realism. Nothing is worse than having a mutiny on your hands or losing your structures to your enemy.
Cossacks: European Wars offers players familiar gameplay physics, above-average graphics, unique implementation on upgrades, and the biggest single selling point in my opinion: massive hordes of armed men running around destroying the enemy. It is for this reason that this title truly could become a classic RTS game.
PULSE RATING COMMENTS
Concept – Old concept, but gains points for the unlimited units’ abilities and upgrades. 95
Gameplay – Realistic build times in relation to what you are building, and the troop and city maintenance adds depth to the game. 90
Graphics – Excellent work on the distinct building styles, but nothing overly exciting to watch. 85
Sound – Clean and to the point with no distractions. – 80
Technical – Clean framerate and no visible problems, looses points for slow load times upon game start-up. 85
Overall – In-depth gameplay, massive skirmishes, and simple to learn interface allows even the beginner to enjoy the title. 87
by Jim “Ripclaw” Broach
Original date of publish: 24.05.2001