GSC Gameworld is inexhaustible in strategy games, thinking of their Cossacks and American Conquest series, and even their latest hit Heroes of Annihilated Empires. The Ukrainian guys are now planning to add a Cossacks II installment to their roster in another standalone expansion.
Once again the cannon rolls along the bumpy roads
The Cossacks II expansion pack is called Battle for Europe, a name that will ring a bell with fans of the series, who know that it was one of the game’s elements where the developers conjured up a European map similar to the Rome Total War terrain table. Alongside it, of course, were campaigns steeped in historical fidelity, and skirmish/battle mode maps that have now morphed into fast-paced action. Although Cossacks II was rich in historical realism, the few playable campaigns were very much side-swiped – throwing out the mappack didn’t help. Well, to remedy this, the developers promise to give you an insight into the campaigns of 4 playable nations – France, Germany, Poland and Spain, all through 6-6 missions. The risky terrain table hasn’t changed much either: Budapest is still the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy capital, the map is still divided into 24 provinces, but the territories will now be fought over by 10 nations, as the existing nations will be joined by the Spanish, the peoples of the Rhineland Confederation, and the warriors of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw.
The cunning lord of novelty
Several trailers have been released for the game, and they’re shocking. It seems that the developers have not only added new races to the people. Of course, each nation will get unique buildings and units, but also, if the promises are to be believed, the existing factions will get new additions. In addition, new battlefields will be available, 10 of which will be added, and the developers will add 6 skirmish missions and 3 historical battles (Waterloo, Leipzig, Borodino). As you can see in the pictures and in the videos – the graphics engine has been given a little facelift. Beautiful buildings and wonderful landscapes will be brought to life in the add-on – remember, Cossacks II already had plenty of drool-worthy maps. What makes it any different? Here’s the answer: you can go into more cities than ever before, and the environment feels alive. Smaller forests, unfathomable hills, grassy plains all bear witness to this (behind which you can safely hide), and the developers have incorporated the animals that were new to American Conquest into another gem – deer, cows and other wildlife. Up until now, it’s been the horsedrawn peasants that have been on the loose, and let’s face it, they’ve basically given the feel of a small farming scene – but thinking in a new direction, the developers have decided that the packhorse-type transporters can now fall victim to the enemy’s barrage.
Be rich, do not war!
Cossacks II also made a major break with the elements outlined by 21st century strategies, successfully combining real-time strategy with turn-based strategy elements, almost like a Rome Total War clone. Even in CreativeAssembly’s game, we did not see much of an economy; the focus there, as here, was on the army. After Cossacks, GSC’s engineers thought hard about how to innovate. They kept the usual 2D/3D map, where you can attack your opponent by setting up a base. Although there is a noticeable break with the economic elements, as up to now it was a case of producing 1000 peasants and distributing them to the mines – but here you have to occupy villages on the map. After all, these small villages will provide our soldiers with gunpowder, coal, gold, iron and grain – it’s interesting that quarrying has been retained, although unlike in American Conquest, you will again see open pit mining. The other resource we could extract was timber, which, along with stone, was of no use in battle – only in building our base.
The occupation of small villages always followed a prescribed procedure: we would go in with a squad and, having defeated the civilian militia, we could seize it and, of necessity, improve it: we would bring in more men to produce it. In fact, the villages became an important strategic element, because our scarce units were expanded here. This was not a major factor, though, as the developers set the production of units so fast that it was a bit of a hindrance to the multiplayer experience.
Back to Corsica!
Cossacks II: Battle for Europe, like its predecessor, once again focuses on the Napoleonic era, the early dawn of the 19th century. Although the base game didn’t offer much in the way of battles – and was mostly just a battle against the French – this is your chance to go on the move with Napoleon, now the most powerful general, to conquer Europe. Famous battlegrounds will be retraveled – we can relive the terrible Russian winter at Borodino, win the Battle of Waterloo and rewrite the history of the Battle of Leipzig. The developers promise that the campaigns will be playable all the way to Corsica.
Battle for Europe!
The battles will be fought in the same way – you farm, form up, take your villages and stand up to the enemy. However, in the new videos released for Battle for Europe, you can see your opponent ambushing you, and even the devalued cannon role in the base game is now cosmeticised, but returns – more cannons, more muzzle flash – the perfect recipe. No new additions to the tried and tested formations, but more units are still to come. Sadly, the videos also reveal that the cavalry will once again look ridiculous, as Fernando Alonso appears on the tarmac, as fast as our hussars rush at the opposition, faking the manoeuvres of the one-time world champion with incredible manoeuvring. The units’ attributes will be preserved, as promised by the developers, so you can see their strength, stamina, morale and the weapons they carry. The military area was actually focused on these in the base game, so anyone with low morale against the opposing cavalry was dancing on the edge of a lost axe. The 16,000 units that have appeared on the gigantic maps so far are admittedly quite a lot compared to Rome Total War, and no strategy game has ever surpassed this point, so the developers decided to keep the limit and boost the graphics. The 2D remains because of the large number of units, although Cossacks II was still able to cram in the biggest machine.
Cossacks II Battle for Europe will not be the strategy game of the year, I dare say. In today’s world of 3D RTSs, especially this year, it has no chance of beating the big names: Rise of Legends, Caesar IV, Act of War HT, Supreme Commander. The game is scheduled for release in June, and the good news is that you don’t need to buy the base game to get the add-on, you can run it as a standalone game on your PC.
INFORMATION ABOUT THIS CONTENT:
Date of publish: 24.04.2006
Language of publish: hungarian