Date of publish: 31/10/2020 7:36 CET
Taking a Napoleonic Complex to a whole new level
Ever heard of a silly little thing called a Napoleonic Complex? It is named after a short little general who marched across Europe and successfully conquered much of the continent until he was stopped abruptly in his tracks at the Battle of Waterloo. Now if you have a Napoleonic complex you probably think you could have done better (rather ironic I think), and would love the chance to prove it. Cossacks 2: Napoleonic Wars puts you in the same time period as Napoleon where you can lead your armies as Napoleon or one of his counterparts in an attempt to be the master of all you survey, or in this case the European content.
There are a few modes of gameplay wrapped up in this software package for you: Campaign mode (which includes tutorials) guides you through a linear story and gives you more responsibilities and challenges as you progress. Conquer Europe mode is pretty self explanatory, you can choose to play as one of several nations then you must lead your troops to victory (I’ll come back to more specifics on how this works in a bit).
When you play threw the Campaign mode you will be starting off as a British officer with other leaders of the land rebelling against the crown and it is your responsibility to suppress their uprising. You will be given a set number of troops at the start of each mission and specific missions to achieve. During the course of the mission NPC’s will be giving you more information to help drive the storyline and give you new objectives or to let you know how you are doing on your current ones.
Now lets talk about my favorite part of the game, Conquer Europe mode (I told you I would come back to tell you more). In this mode, you pick one of several nations, along with a General to command your forces. As you progress your General will gain skill and renown for victories earned on the field of battle and with the glory and prestige giving you the ability to command more and different types of units. The other main feature of this mode that differs from the other is that you will be given a map of Europe and it will now be your responsibility to defend the territory you control as well as claim new lands for your nation. This mode also has more than just combat, you can also employ diplomacy to strike deals and form alliances. A convenient market also helps you buy and sell to obtain resources you may need. Another nice touch is that when you exit the European map the game will automatically save your progress, allowing you to pick up right where you left off.
So why are resources so important in this game? Well for one when you are trying to upgrade your defenses in your territories it costs resources to improve the fortifications allowing them to repel larger enemy forces. Another use of resources is the recruitment of soldiers lost on the field of glory. The final, and often most critical reason for resources is that during actual combat you will consume these resources. Your soldiers need food to survive and lets not forget you need ammunition, which I run out of faster than anything else.
Besides, running out of ammunition what are some other things you need to worry about with your troops? Firstly and the most obvious is losses due to enemy engagement. The second and more detrimental thing to your troops that also comes from enemy engagement is moral; if your moral falls, your troops will scatter. Under the default settings, you will find that units, both friend and foe, tend to scatter and run in terror long before their forces are depleted, most units break under a strong and powerful shock attack.
Now that we are talking about combat and your troops let us examine the way combat actually works, yeah sorry it took me so long to get to this, just had so many other things to hit on. During combat, you can move your troops around the battlefield in their battalions. While marching make sure to keep an eye on their fatigue level, if your units run out of energy they will start to loose moral, you can’t march soldiers forever, also if you troops show up to a battle with low moral odds are as soon as the bullets start flying they will turn tail and run. Once your troops are in position you can put them into three types of formations depending on your needs then line them up ready to engage the adversary. Once the enemy is upon you, you must decide when to fire your weapons. When you point your mouse over the gun for each unit a outline will appear in the gaming world showing at what range you will inflict different levels of damage, remember the weapons of this period were really only effective up close, hence the saying, don’t fire till you see the white of their eyes. Don’t forget that not only are the weapons of this era pretty much useless at range, but they also take a long time to reload, so make sure you pick the right time to fire.
This direct control over fire control leads to a lot of micromanagement in the game, you must control when and how every single unit on the field fires, moves and attacks. I have commanded as many as 13 units on the field at once, having to jump to each of them and control each of them individual can really slow down game time, this game may have been better served as a turn based game given the amount of time I spent with the game paused. Now with engaged in combat remember there are several things you need to keep track of with each unit: moral, number of troops, fatigue and number of troops with currently loaded firearms.
Now lets say that you break the enemies lines, well great, they will now turn tail and run. You can either let them flee or pounce on them to earn some easier kills and gain some experience for your troops, just don’t get carried away and get hit off guard and crushed by an enemy forcing lying in wait. However, if they enemy breaks your moral, when your units turn and run they will retreat to your barracks, where you can restock their numbers and form a new brigade. Remember, moral can destroy a unit faster than injury and death; make sure your soldiers are confident, well rested. Units will gain moral when they score kills and will of course loose moral when their comrades fall. Another detriment to their moral happens when friendly units flee through their lines.
The graphics are nice, nothing awe striking, but not bad for this style of game. You will see smoke billowing from the barrels of guns as your lines unleash their volleys of death, and the terrain and uniforms both have a nice level of detail. The buildings have a decent level of detail as well as the explosions from cannon fire. For a game of this ilk, the graphics are decent. 7
I don’t think I’m the only one that loves to see the masses serving you at your call and are willing to die when you tell them too, this is taking a Napoleonic complex to a whole other level. Basically what I’m saying is that the game is fun, its nice to conquer territories and march across Europe as Napoleon, or if you wish (as I did) to lead your armies against the legendary general and crush his forces. The big snag comes back to the level of micromanagement needed in this title, if you are looking for quick play then this will drive you up a wall. 6
The big problem with the controls is the amount of micromanagement that is required. The game should have provided a type of auto-fire system, so if an enemy troop moved within a certain distance your unit would automatically unleash hell upon them. This system would save you a lot of pausing the game while you jump around the map to check on each of your units along with the position and motion of the enemy units. Your troops on the whole respond to your commands, even when under fire they will do what they can to obey your commands, only when they are fleeing in terror do you loose control over your units. 8
The replay of the game is limited due to the high level of micromanagement (yes I’m back on this again) needed in this game. The main story line does little to draw you in other than offer a series of objectives, in fact I found myself watching TV while the NPC’s were talking. I found the Conquer Europe mode of gameplay more engaging as I had more options on how to progress threw the game. Each nation has different units adding to the replay value, however, this seems more of a novelty when compared to the micromanagement requirements. 6
The cannon fire and gunfire are both very nice in this game, adding to the depth of the title. The music is done well and added into the game nicely, but just as a warning, turn down the music right from the start. The reason for this is that the music is much louder than the dialog in the game, so if you want to know what the NPC’s are trying to tell you, you will either have to crank your stereo and go depth when the music starts again or turn the music levels down in the first place. 8
This is a nice game for fans of the genre; however, if you are looking for a game to jump in and out of quickly this may not be the one for you. The problem is that you must spend much of your time micro-managing your units, telling them when to fire, when to charge and where to move. Then you must wait for them to reload before they are able to take any other actions. Therefore, for those of you looking for a game in this era that stays true to the weaponry and strategy of the era, then you will probably enjoy the game, however, if you are not a big fan of the era you will probably be better served with a different RTS title. That being said I find myself coming back to play this game.
Written by Daniel Comer
Original date of publish: 05.06.2005