Date of publish: 01/11/2020 17:23 CET
Ever wonder what musket fighting is really all about? Then check out our Cossacks II review.
Ever wonder what musket fighting is really all about? Then look no further, because Cosssacks II: Napoleonic Wars is here to fill that void in your heart that’s aching for a historical RTS game. Taking place in the aforementioned Napoleonic era, players will get to choose between six different factions to battle for control of Europe. It plays out much like other historical RTS game, including a turn-based territory conquering mode. While more than a couple aspects of this game turn out on the bland side, and the single player campaign is much more difficult than it should be, the game is fun to behold.
Pros and Cons
+ Goes to great lengths to preserve historic feel
+ Good looking graphics, for a 2D game
+/- Resource gathering and construction can be very slow paced
– Single player can be very difficult
– May have very limited audience appeal
– Bland campaign mode
While Cossacks II isn’t a game for everyone, it is certainly interesting for those people who have a strong interest in history and the strategy around the Napoleonic era. It takes a good deal of patience to learn and play this game, which limits its audience appeal. While the game looks decent, it’s still a 2D game. This is good news for people who are running relatively low spec computers, but not so great for those looking for heavy eye-candy. But if you want to take a break and try something that is definitely unique in its own genre, then Cossacks II is worth a try.
If you’re among those who are getting a little tired of the deluge of WWII-themed RTS games, then maybe a few steps further back in time might be in order. Keeping in line with huge European conflicts, we have Cossacks II: Napoleonic Wars, a game where players take control of one of six major powers to battle out their differences. This historic strategy game is highly detailed in an attempt to remain historically accurate, which can occasionally lead to some frustrating gameplay.
Cossacks II has a few different game modes, the most significant being the single player campaign and Battle for Europe, which plays out very much like other historical games where you play through a turn based map and then experience battles in real-time. The main difference is that players will only be able to move one army across Europe, and will only be able to build defensive structures in conquered territories. The struggle to control resources is bound to satisfy the big armchair general enthusiasts. Resources play a huge role in Cossacks II. Iron, stone, and wood are needed to build up defenses. Food and coal are the most important resources because they’re what keep your armies going. Without them, your troops will either starve to death, or they won’t be able to fire.
The RTS portion of the game can be fun to watch, as hundreds of troops travel down roads in formation. True to history, roads are critical to warfare. The AI is smart enough to let forces travel swiftly and efficiently using roads before falling into formation. Critical tactics include fortifying key points to cut off key areas from the enemy. The maps are hugs, dotted with villages. Players compete to control these villages and gain the resources they have to offer. Mining for resources can be a pretty slow affair unless you have hundreds of peasants at your disposal, and building them all is a slow task in itself. Towns are also places where your armies can rest and replenish themselves.
Combat is pretty unique in comparison to other RTS games. Cossacks II goes to great lengths to preserve historic accuracy. If you remember those history lessons, wars during this time period essentially boiled down to two factions standing out in an open field and shooting at each other until one side drops. Also take into account that it can take an excruciatingly long time to reload a musket, and you have a very different type of game dynamic. Armies show rings around them to show their range, and also when the enemy is within the ideal distance for firing upon. Opening fire too soon can spell certain doom, because the computer will be quick to exploit your vulnerability while reloading. Battles can become extremely drawn out, especially when the computer has a chance to assemble a formidable force. Conquering surrounding villages in an attempt to starve the enemy out of resources doesn’t work very well, because the computer appears to have the ability to keep on going for a long time after it has no available income. Luckily, the game supports different types of terrain, levels and has a morale system. Once an army’s morale drops too low, it breaks, and is completely lost to the player. So, in order to win a mission, all a player has to do is use a combination of troops and artillery. Using cannons at just the right time can do a lot for a battle.
The campaign isn’t that great. You play as a British Officer trying to save his country and fiance from rebellious nobles who are in league with the French. This is the part where the game takes a departure from realism. The cut scenes, voice acting and plot are bland and uninteresting. There is no unique campaign for the different factions, but that might actually be a good thing in this case. Don’t let the bland plot fool you, though. It can be extremely difficult, tossing you into scenarios with such serious disadvantages that it’ll take your hours or playing and reloading to get through it. There is no way to set the difficulty of the game down. It only gets harder.
Multiplayer is pretty good, and is actually pretty fast paced due to the morale system. Players can choose to work together so that one person can concentrate on constructing buildings and managing resources while the other controls the troops. Multiplayer can only play out in real-time, and does not offer the turn-based Battle for Europe mode.
Cossacks II is certainly not for everyone. It is really geared more toward the history enthusiast than anyone. There are even small movie sequences containing some historical reenactment scenes in a small window so that players can get an “up-close” view of what the battles might look like. Unfortunately, there are only a handful of video clips, and they loop quite often. It takes a pretty specific type of player to appreciate Cossacks II, and we’re not just talking about the fact that this game still uses 2D graphics. However, the graphics do appear considerably nicer than the previous game. It takes a lot of patience to learn and play this game. If this appeals to you, then head out for this game! But for the most part, it seems like Cossacks II has some very limited audience appeal.
Written by Steven Wong
Original date of publish: 04.08.2005