Date of publish: 25/10/2020 20:07 CET
Cossacks II: Napoleonic Wars is a beautifully created sequel that easily has Game of the Year potential. Reenacting major battles throughout Europe’s history, you can command one of six nations on their conquest for total domination. While other games of this genre rely on brute force to subdue their enemies, Cossacks requires you to use special military tactics to defeat your rivals, even when the odds are against you. You will come face-to-face with situations that commanders of the past came across, and because of this added realism Cossacks II: Napoleonic Wars is a step above any other real time strategy today.
Cossacks II puts you in shoes of a European commander on your journey to reign supreme over thousands of miles of land. Traditionally, there are several tutorial levels that not only teach you how to play the game, but also show you what the engine is capable of. From the beginning, you learn the basics of managing your army by attacking incoming soldiers and defending specific locations. After you complete the initial training, the game’s true finesse is revealed. Incorporating distinct battle formations with your surrounding environment can prove to be your deadliest weapon. For instance, you can standout in a defensive position at the end of a narrow bridge so you can attack the enemy in smaller waves. Trees and other objects can be utilized to offer protection from incoming enemy fire, and even having rifleman positioned on high hills will increase their range of fire. Instead of the typical battle routines where the stronger army always wins, the techniques that you use in war are far more important. Whether you choose to rush a group of foot soldiers with your cavalry, or if you prefer to encompass the opposition in a circle of death, Cossacks II offers a new sense of strategy that other games are void of.
While commanding your troops is vital to victory, building up a respectable army is also necessary. Only by upgrading your structures and managing your resources will you be able to turn a plot of land into a thriving community. Starting off with a town hall structure, you can train workers to build structures and gather items. You will encounter structures such as barracks, trade markets, temples, and lumber mills to name a few. You must provide your army with enough food and housing for them to live in hygienic conditions. Lumber and stone must be harvested for the construction of buildings, and gold is needed for everything. Most importantly, you will need to mine coal to be used for ammunition, and if you run out your soldiers will only be able to perform the weaker melee attacks. For the most part, if you have enough workers and manage to maintain a steady supply of resources, then you should have a prosperous society in no time.
Cossacks II essentially has three types of gameplay: Campaign, Battle for Europe, and Skirmish. The campaign mode is very linear; you will bet put into different scenarios and be challenged with the task of defeating the enemy villages and preventing them from taking over. Sometimes a troop is already setup for you, but other times you will have to start from scratch. Using commanders to lead your army into battle, you must outwit a network of enemy forces in order to move on to your next mission. Battle of Europe allows you to determine your own path as you crusade through Europe. Forming alliances will help you in times of need, but in the end you will wage war with the last remaining civilization and prove yourself as a champion. The skirmish mode sets you and an opponent on the battlefield with nothing but a few workers. You must build up an empire and destroy your rival before they manage to obliterate you. Although these styles of gameplay appear to be different, Cossacks II is still the same game no matter how you put it. Even though they aren’t required, it is highly recommended that you have some type of highly ranked soldier to lead your battalion. Having leaders and slaughtering the enemy will increase the morale of the regiment, which will make them do more damage and have a lust for blood. You always have to be conservative, and instead of rushing foolishly into battle, you will need to have some stratagem. You will find that Cossacks II has a vast variety of single player options that will keep you busy for hours on end.
Cossacks II is filled with breathtaking environments that are filled with astronomically sized armies to create a very stimulating game. The world is very smoothed out, making the hills roll and giving the rivers a glossy effect. The textures are very detailed, and this is imperative due to the interactivity of the environment. For instance, you will need to take notice of dark swamp regions to prevent your troops from slowing down. The atmosphere has a strong sense or realism as well; the assortment of different looking trees will sway in the breeze as wheat on your farmland rocks back and forth. Such subtleties, like a constantly moving environment, take the gaming experience to a whole new level. In addition, you will be put in awe once you see this game in action; the battles are intense and gruesome. At times it will be necessary to sacrifice a few men in order to trick an entire army, and this is the only time you can really see a soldier dying. During the rest of the game, you will travel in tightly packed formations that will make you nervous just to look at. Rows of hundreds of soldiers will march in unison toward an enemy village, and will stop at nothing to reach there. Offering a nice twist to the game, video clips of actual people reenacting war will appear during gameplay. The clips don’t take up the whole screen, but they still give you a sense of the tension and anxiety that the soldiers are faced with. While there is a very wide Field of View, the camera is placed very high above the battlefield, so don’t expect to be inches away from the gore. When you add in muskets firing, buildings exploding, and the toppling of an army, Cossacks II is a very aesthetically pleasing game.
The sound in Cossacks II is also masterfully done. As your army increases in size, you will notice that the volume of their chatter increases, and as they march their footsteps will become louder. At the time of war, you can hear each soldier well out a battle cry, and this is shortly followed by a violent clashing of swords. At the same time, rifleman will load up their muskets and blast away at the enemies from afar. There are a seemingly endless amount of cries for death as soldiers experience the very last seconds of their life. Also incorporated into this game is a very suitable background music soundtrack. All of the music sounds authentic to the era depicted in this game, and although it isn’t the latest music from your favorite artist, it still fits the game very nicely. In short, the audio performance delivered is nothing less than wonderful.
The online multiplayer mode also manages to deliver a furious battlefield feel to it. While playing against the computer is always fun, the battles have more of a personal meaning as you take on a friend. Starting from almost nothing, you must build up an army and wipe your opponent off the map to claim victory. The whole point of the battle is to win a piece of land, and if you play the online game enough you might even be able to conquer whole nations. For the most part, Cossacks II still feels like Cossacks II online, which is what every online real time strategy player will enjoy.
In conclusion, Cossacks II: Napoleonic Wars delivers the tale of European history by allowing the user to take control of the nation of their choice. By managing your community and building up a disciplined, you will be able to set out on a conquest to take over anything that crosses your path. Because this game forces you to think the same way a commander of the same time period would have, Cossacks II: Napoleonic Wars is the greatest strategy game on the market.
Written by Andy Levine
Original date of publish: 27.04.2005