Date of publish: 03/11/2020 18:19 CET
Napoleon’s forces return for some of the most famous battles of the early 19th century. Can you change the course of history at Waterloo?
Now here we have a period of history that’s ripe for strategy games. The days of grand armies, where careful strategy played a huge part. The days before battles became a free-for-all or a duel of machine guns across no-man’s land. Generals such as Blucher, Wellington and Napoleon moved divisions around the battle fields like chess pieces in an effort to outwit each other.
It’s no surprise then that such battles make a good subject for a realtime strategy game. And here we return to the subject once again via the Cossacks franchise. Cossacks II: Battle of Europe is official an expansion of the Cossacks II game, though you won’t need to own the original to play.
So what’s new in this latest version of the game then? We have new nationals to play as – Spain, Duchy of Warsaw and The Confederation of the Rein, joining France to make a total of four playing sides. Each of these has its own single player campaign with up to seven missions in each. These campaigns don’t require any grand strategy on the part of the player, all the action takes place on the battlefield.
The four campaigns are Hundred Days campaign (France), The Road to Vienna (The Confederation of the Rheine), The Honour of the Polish Crown (Duchy of Warsaw) and The Question of Iberia (Spain). Multiplayer is featured with up to six nations on the map at one time too.
Battle for Europe
For a more grand strategic challenge there’s the Battle of Europe mode. This mode will be familiar to any of you who’ve dabbled with Risk, or any of the Total War games for that matter. Europe is divided into 24 provinces and nine nations compete over them. Diplomacy, alliances and trading play a part but the real meat and potatoes are the battles that take place for control of the regions. Here you can choose to play as Egypt, Russia, France, England, Prussia, Austria, Spain, Warsaw and The Rheine Confederation.
For a quick game a skirmish mode has been included. It features the usual resource gathering and troop building escapades as you expect from most realtime strategy games these days. The historic battles featured in the game such as Borodino, Waterloo and Battle of Nations don’t allow you to use more troops than the real life armies – making for historically accurate recreations.
Morale and Fatigue
The in battle action is just like the real life version of warfare for the period, slow and methodical. There’s no sense constantly badgering the troops with orders. Success often relies on letting the action unfold once you’ve made your broader strategic strokes. Moral and Fatigue play a huge part and a unit that seems to be winning can be broken at any time by fatigue or loss of mettle. I like the approach to warfare in the game, there’s something rather pleasing about giving your orders and watching them carried out rather than having to constantly click on the battlefield.
Many years ago I had a recreation of the Battle of Borodino for my Atari ST. It was great to be able to return to this famous battle and see how well I could remember the units available and the major points of the battlefield such as The Redoubt. I remember spending hours trying to take Utitsa as a fulcrum to an attack that would pivot round to take Napoleon in the flank. And I’ve been trying to do that same thing here. The real battle ended as a tactical stalemate, though was seen as an strategic defeat to Napoleon’s aims. So it’s interesting trying to win the battle outright – something neither side achieved at the time.
If you’re expecting a graphical upgrade with the new version of Cossacks then you will be disappointed. The overall artwork for the battlefields is excellent with buildings beautifully recreated. The sprite-based units however look a bit old hat. The game also has a tendency to chug. Modern PCs are designed to push a lot of polygons around and I hope the next game in this series finally embraces 3D visuals. I imagine a fully 3D engine for a Napoleonic conflict to be a wonder to behold. As it stand Cossacks II: BFE looks okay, nothing special.
The sound is pretty good, with plenty of decent voice acting and atmosphere in the clash of arms in battle. Some of the accents are rather odd though. But that’s just nitpicking. Overall Cossacks II: Battle for Europe is another solid release from GSC Game World – a company that seems to know this period very well. Battle for Europe is a detailed and historically accurate look at the age of grand armies of Europe and the classic clash of Empires. While not offering anything particularly new or groundbreaking it succeeds in providing an entertaining and thoughtful strategy game for those tired of meaningless tank rushes.
Written by Harry “Akaldema” Neary
Original date of publish: 04.07.2006