“To put the outcome in military terms, here´s Cossacks, standing on a hill, musket aimed, picking the others off (…) Graphically beautiful – Handles very smoothly – Massive battles on realistic landscapes” – 9/10
She doesn’t know how to throw a hand grenade but, thanks to Cossacks, Rhianna Pratchett sure knows how to handle a pointy stick
One thing that’s frustrated strategy fans everywhere is that although your band of a few dozen elite jaguar warriors or heavy armoured tanks might look impressively devastating to your enemies, it can hardly be the backbone of an epic battle. Shogun gave us hundreds of troops to dispose of in glorious 3D, but they could be moved only in formations rather than individually, so we were stiffed on that one. The claim that Cossacks: European Wars could support 8000 troops with no loss of speed was enough to make RTS fans wet themselves in anticipation.
Now Cossacks is here – and don’t let your girlfriend tell you that size doesn’t matter.
The game has been described as Age Of Empires 3, as it neatly picks up the historical timeline between the 16th and 18th centuries, more or less where Age Of Kings left off. The basic principles are much the same as in most RTS games: build up an impressive military force with your choice of 16 nations, while managing your resources and economy. Gathering resources is rather more complicated than in something like Age Of Kings, because the Cossacks economy is based on six resources rather than four: food, wood, stone, gold, iron and coal.
However, things start to get even more interesting when you find out that not only do you need resources to build up your army, you must also maintain it. This means you have to keep up a regular supply of food to feed your population, or they’ll start dropping dead on the battlefield; run out of coal and iron, and they’ll stop firing. You get the idea. This may sound rather complicated, but once you get your head around managing your resources it makes for a much more interesting and certainly more realistic game.
There’s the choice of playing single-player random map games, four long historically based scenarios, and individual scenarios against the computer, which is a great training ground, because unlike in many other strategy games, the computer as an opponent can seem a lot sneakier and more cunning than you are.
BIGGER IS BETTER
The artificial intelligence of your military units is fairly good, and you’ll notice that your forces will retreat when they’re overwhelmed, and seek out the best strategic place from which to attack enemies.
However, the artificial intelligence of your peasants is a little dodgy: unfortunately they’re not the ‘smart’ type of peasants you find in Age Of Kings: The Conquerors, who pretty much got on with gathering resources without the need for too much whip cracking. Instead, your peasants tend to get themselves caught in their own personal pacing glitch until you point them in the direction of fresh resources.
Graphically, Cossacks blows the competition away. The buildings are beautifully detailed, from construction to destruction, and each nation has its own unique architecture.
CSC Game World, the game’s Ukrainian developers, have done their best to make the feel as 3D as possible without actually getting involved with messy things like camera angles. In fact, the only truly 3D element is the landscape, and combined with real physics modelling it plays an enormous part in the dynamics of the game. Capture the high ground, and you’ve got a great strategic advance even if your troops are outnumbered by those of your enemy.
There’s no doubt that what Cossacks has going for it more than anything else is the sheer scale of the armies you can produce.
This suggests that the multiplayer element of the game is going to be huge. Each unit can be controlled individually as well as in formations, which means you can stage ambushes, sneak in behind enemy lines and cause havoc, or pile in the troops for a massive cannons-blazing attack. You don’t know what you’ve been missing out on until you hear your Howitzer breaking down your enemy’s fortifications, and you watch 500 of your troops swarm in for the kill.
There’s probably a fair number of people who couldn’t even find the Ukraine on a map of the Ukraine, yet here’s a relatively small Ukrainian developer going head to head with games from one of the biggest corporations in the world (may their name be whispered reverently).
To put the outcome in military terms, here’s Cossacks, standing on a hill, musket aimed, picking the others off.
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INFORMATION ABOUT THIS CONTENT:
Date of publish: 05.2001
Author: Rhianna Pratchett
Language of publish: english