Date of publish: 23/10/2020 16:25 CET
World conquest is one of those funny, intrinsic human propensities that more often than not gets the world into trouble. Some general or national leader is always, seemingly, trying to get a bigger piece of the playground, and in the process diminishing the human potential through devaluating life itself.
Still, there is a fascination with the actions of those who have tried, and invariably failed. Some of the more historical outcomes have even become clichés in the modern world. For example, ‘Napoleon has met his Waterloo.’
But what if things had gone differently for the diminutive French general and emperor. Rather than indicating a failure or place of defeat, what if Waterloo instead referred to a place of victory (in which case this preview may have originally appeared in French), or there was no Waterloo at all?
It is all about choice and that is precisely what CDV and GSC Game World hand the player with Cossacks II: Napoleonic Wars.
Cossacks II takes place during the turbulent years that Napoleon was dashing about Europe, and several countries were trying to put a stop to his attempts at conquering a major portion of the civilized center of the world, as it was known.
GameZone.com received a preview build of the PC title, and while the game was raw in several places there was enough elements there to get a solid feel for the title. This is not a game that should be played by the most inexperienced of real-time strategy fans. The game has a learning curve and three difficulty levels – normal, hard and very hard.
There are several ways to play this game: Single player, Internet game and multiplayer. With the build in the stage it was in, the Internet game was not available. The multiplayer requires players to create or join a game based on the 10 mission levels available. There were no settings for joining, so this may be peer-to-peer gaming.
The single player game has three modes – campaign, battle for Europe and skirmish/battles/load. You can flip the latter in arcade mode at any time, and there is a tutorial to familiarize players with the controls. You actually do not seem to be able to get into the campaign mode without first completing the tutorial. There were some minor bumps in doing just that simply because the code did not come with a manual and the text messages/guides were full of missing letters, mysterious grammar, misspellings and some Russian text.
The tutorial has several informational boxes across the boxes. In the lower right is a map, the lower left contains a picture of selected units, and occasionally there is a box that appears along the bottom with video re-enactments. However, the videos are repetitive and in the tutorial, one of the musketeers on the front rows appears to be smoking a cigarette. So much for keeping the mood.
Troop movement is awkward, with the troops flowing in and out like a synchronized swim team, shifting the formation until finally moving out. Formations do actually make a difference in troop movements, and can determine whether your squads wear out on a march or have the energy to accomplish the set task.
The Battle for Europe mode plays partially like Risk. There is a mapboard that is divided up into sectors. Controlled sectors produce resources, which can fuel your army. You can move your general piece and attack neighboring sectors. The game does have save features though not in mid-mission, and it did seem reluctant to allow exiting to the main menu (as in it was possible, but had to be tried several times).
The mapboards are covered in the fog of war, and the general gameplay is free flowing, though with a few minor missteps. Early in one scenario, the squad took over a small village and captured resources. The fighting was not particularly challenging and while you can actually order the troops to attack, the computer AI controls most of the fighting and outcome. And there was a minor problem with the aforementioned village. There was a main body of defenders as well as some roaming sentries. The main body was killed, but the sentries kept walking their routes as though nothing had happened, and targeting them to finish the job was not possible for the 5-8 minutes tried. When you don’t kill off an entire opposing regiment, the remaining soldiers seem to move over to your side, walking into a building and emerging wearing your colors.
The animations are not overly strong and the camera perspective is good and typical of this genre. The controls are also somewhat intuitive if you have played this type of game before. The fighting sounds are decent, and the languages fit each of the nationalities (six in total – France, Russia, Prussia, Austria, Britain and Egypt) represented.
Cossacks 2: Napoleonic Wars is an average RTS title, with a focus on the turbulent battles of the time, but while it seems that it could work as an introductory title for new RTS gamers, this game looks as though it is geared more toward those who have experience in the genre and want to take that experience out to challenge other gamers. The single player game is decent, but it looks like this game will truly shine in multiplayer modes.
Written by Michael Lafferty
Original date of publish: 09.03.2005