Date of publish: 12/08/2020 19:34 CET
Can Cossacks offer anything new to the RTS genre? Is this just another RTS waste of time? Read on McDuff and see for yourself.
Cossacks: European Wars
Innovation is a scary thing. That’s why we see more of the same at every turn. This includes Cossacks: European Wars. At a quick glance you might suggest it’s Age of King redux. Well, you’d be right but then you’d be missing a few key differences.
Cossacks takes place during the 17th and 18th centuries in a very turbulent Europe. You can control one of about 16 major and minor nations within the game. Algeria, Austria, England, France, the Netherlands, Piemonte, Portugal, Poland, Prussia, Russia, Saxony, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, and Venice are the nations represented within the game, and what a variety they are!
Not only are there cosmetic differences between the nations but there are also, thankfully, other differences. These differences relate to economic, scientific and military development, and various advantages and disadvantages of each nation. It’s really quite refreshing to have more than 3 significant races or nations.
It’s all been done before
The game begins like pretty much every other real-time strategy game in existence. You begin with a handful of peasants. It’s then their job to create a town hall, for creating more peons, to create a mill for grain. Then they move on to building mines and harvesting other resources, building a barracks from which foot troops are created. Well, you get the idea, especially if you’ve played AoE before.
Unlike AoE there are 6 resources for you to play with: iron, coal, stone, wood, food and the all-important gold. While you need all the other resources for growth gold is especially important. Without gold all productions will cease. Without gold mercenaries that you may have hired through a diplomatic center will turn on you giving you a secondary army for you to deal with. I loved that idea, although I found it quite frustrating when it happened to me.
Once you set a peasant to a task they continue on and don’t end up standing around staring at themselves. Once a farm is built the farm is everlasting, same goes for the mines and the wood cutters. This means there is little micromanagement of resources. Always a plus when the main thrust of this game is battle.
What kind of tree?
There is a large and well-defined resource tree. There are as many as 300 different technologies to research, depending on which nationality you are. When I first began investigating the technology tree I was astonished at its depth!
Another area of interest is the marketplace. If you need more of a resource you can haggle for it in the marketplace. There are no trade routes or trade stoppages of other games. In Cossacks there is a free market economy where anyone can trade at any given time.
Why can’t we all just get along?
Battles are the piece de restience. When you create a few units they are effective but they become even more effective when they are grouped together with a captain and a drummer boy. Throw in a priest, to heal units in battle, and your few units can become quite formidable. You are able to put your units into lines, column and squares but only when they have officers attached to a group.
While all this might sound fine it looks spectacular when you have an army of several hundred units forming lines and squares in battle. With ranged weapons in the rear and hand to hand units in the front you are able to perform various tactical maneuvers. Hooking up for some multi-player fun can yield some truly spectacular results with up to a thousand or more units engaging in battle at any one time.
Graphically Cossacks is pretty. Each of the units is easy to distinguish from one another and the units and building for each nation are very well done. Another impressive area is the animations of the units. For example, musketeers can be seen taking a shot and reloading their muskets for a second shot. It is all quite detailed.
On the downside, there were a few bugs in Cossacks that need to be addressed but even worse is the tutorial. After going through a wonderful tutorial as found in Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns this tutorial was dry and under-whelming.
However, when all is said and done you could do worse with your gaming dollar than purchasing Cossacks: European Wars.
by R.A. Scott
Original date of publish: 15.05.2001