Date of publish: 31/10/2020 20:55 CET
Graphics & Sound:
Cossacks II: Napoleon Wars is one of the latest RTS Total War- esque games flooding the market as of late.
Thought not as flashy as Imperial Glory, the solid 2D sprites get across the meaningful action well enough. Bright shades of color appeal to the eyes and help give this title a vibrant look, despite being technologically outdated. Weapons fire is under-whelming but it does a workmanlike job, as does the engine as a whole.
An added touch is the scattered FMV shots of historical reenactments that will appear during certain events. Some really neat videos here.
It does have a few hiccups. The menus are too slow to load, and when you have huge battles (which are plenty), the game lags down a bit. Also, there is no option to zoom right into the trenches, it only comes with 2 zoom levels…. doh.
Sound wise, the voice acting is pretty lame in both delivery and writing. Thankfully, the robust sound effects do a great job of immersing you into a war zone, while the soundtrack gracefully accompanies the drama.
You have the choice of six countries to command: England, Russia, France, Austria, Egypt, and lastly, Prussia during the early 19th century. A brief tutorial will guide you past the obstacles and show you the ropes. After that, you can try your hand at Campaign, Battle for Europe, Multiplayer and Skirmish mode. Most are self–explanatory (Skirmish is “Quick Battle/Instant Action”), but the Battle for Europe mode is especially interesting. You are tasked with trying to establish alliances, treaties etc., while waging war “Risk” style across the map of Europe. Your aim is the complete subjugation of the surrounding nations to your might.
While the game does model some diplomatic features, the meat ‘n potatoes is the real-time combat system. Careful allocation of supplies is essential for successful combat, from gunpowder (coal) to food, an army will be useless without a steady flow of resources. As you march across the map, you can build new areas to help pump out supplies and add population to your growing army. Thankfully, the research options are streamlined, allowing you to focus on the battles at hand.
Cossacks II: Napoleon Wars demands vigilance in tactics and battlefield awareness, as you assemble your legions of dragoons, militias, musketeers, grenadiers and so forth. There is a lot of action going on, and the sheer size of the armies can be staggering at times (up to 64,000 troops). Based on historical fact, units are slow to fire and reload, so don’t be thinking this is some arcade conversion…. authentic, laborious action resides. You have to pay attention to the landscape, height, vantage point, etc. If you gain the terrain advantage, you can make quick work of your opponent, who may be left open in a gully, whilst your volleys ravage his troops. Formations are key as well, from the all around solid defensive square, to the prime offensive double-line formation. Also important is morale, which is expertly modeled here (unlike in Imperial Glory) If things get too hectic in real-time, there is a handy pause feature to hand out orders, although this takes away from the excitement of warfare.
Unfortunately, the AI scores some low points. Sure, the enemy AI is decent enough, but your men will moronically march to an objective under enemy fire, unless given an order to shoot back. Path-finding issues have always been a pain in RTS games, and those same issues creep up here.
Thankfully, a hearty multiplayer mode is included if the AI causes unneeded grief. You can play in a death match style or historical campaign, the latter involving real battles of old, for up to 1–6 players. The interface for finding opponents is clean and simple, with an auto-match for skill level, even. Land War is also included where you battle it out internationally for areas of map, vying to conquer parts of each nation. Most conflicts won’t take more than a few hours either, so don’t sweat that.
With a simple tutorial mode, you should understand the basic concepts quickly. It could have been fleshed out a bit though, and also there is a notable absence of in-game help options… new gamers be patient. Veterans of games like the Total War, Alexander and the like should be comfortable with the aspects of doing well. Overall, a “thinking man’s” game dumbed-down enough for casual gamers to enjoy themselves.
With only 2 preset levels to zoom, this is a bit of a downer. But then you realize they aren’t gorgeous 3D polygons…so perhaps it’s not so bad I can’t zoom into a mass of colorful pixels. The battles can get a bit hectic, trying to manage all your units, but easy to read information on your troops supply/morale levels, and mini-map, help some.
Cossacks II: Napoleon Wars is a solid RTS game in the mold of the Total War series… just not as pretty. It does boast some added depth in some areas such as morale, and brief flashes of uniqueness (like FMV during battle), but this is really nothing new. If you’re a history buff and enjoy strategy that won’t bury you with details, then this title may be for you.
Written by Tyler “Tybo” Whitney
Original date of publish: 11.07.2005