In this review I will concentrate on game features rather than Multiplayer/singler or comparison to other games though I will probably mention one or two of these points.
Cossacks runs on a P2 233 & 32 meg of Ram upwards but requires a video card that can run games in 1024×768. This is the minimum screen mode it works in. The reason is, you need this screen mode to view a whole line of troops at once. Anything smaller and you would only see half of them.
Before I get in to this review I think it would be good to quickly make it clear what Tactics and Strategy mean according the Oxford Dictionary because it is important to understand what the term Real Time Strategy Game actually means so you can fully understand what I am about to tell you about Cossacks. In the past very few games have accurately been labelled RTSG’s and this year alone there 2 games been released that are indeed true strategy games. Cossacks is one of them.
Tactics means “Art of disposing military or Naval or Air forces esp, in actual contact with enemy. Procedure calculated to gain some end.”
Strategy means “Generalship, the art of war. Management of armies or army in a campaign. The art of moving or disposing troops, ships or aircraft as to improse upon the enemy the place and time and conditions for fighting preferred by oneself.
With that out of the way lets begin:)
Cossacks is a Real time strategy game set in the 17th century, when rank and file, cannons and cavalry charges reigned supreme. Unlike games based in the modern or future era, failing to build the right balance of troops can mean more than the difference between winning and losing. I could in effect be the difference between winning well or losing badly. Were talking about the complete annihilation of an entire army in seconds here folks.
With the scene set lets continue.
Cossacks let you choose from 16 different nation and is as much at home waging war at sea as it is on land with several beautiful animated ships of all sizes and shapes. You can for instance have a full scale Naval battle. Invade Europe with ground troops 200 years before D-day. Or fight land battles in the style of the Battle of Waterloo.
17th Century Combat
The whole idea of 17th century combat may sound boring but believe me it is far from it. You see GSC require you to build up a base first. It is this base that makes some people compare this to Age of Empires. The resources you must gather to build your army is very similar to Age of Empires but how you have to use them is what makes this game special. As in real life armies need a feeding, supplying with ammo and gun powered after you create them. Ships require gold to pay the crew. If you run short your army will refuse to fight or turn against you. So you must be able sustain your troops after you have built them. This acts like a natural limit to the number of troops you can field. Cossacks actually supports a total of 8000 units in any one game. The game divides these units amongst the players so each can build the same number of units up to a total for all players of 8000 troops.
This troops can be used as a group or a commander and drummer can be assigned to them. This then lets you use formations. Formations and orders gives that squad combat bonuses that help you win. This alone wont win battles for you though. A squad of Musketeers on a hill can fire further but once in contact with the enemy they must back off because most musketeers have a minimum range for their weapons.
Defending them with Pikemen which where designed to halt cavalry charges thus helps you defend that hill. If the enemy then sent in round shields your pikemen would die if they came into contact with them but the Musketeers should help prevent that from happening. Add come cannon, mortars and multibarrel grape shot to the defence and you can mow down those enemy troops well before they get within firing range. The Hill gives you a range advantage you see. If your on a plain somewhere all ranges are equal except where one country had a superior musketeer in which case they may out range you. Each country has a few special differences that can if used correctly make the difference between winning and losing.
Cavalry, Artillery and Ships use a lose formation but right clicking with the mouse and dragging an arrow in the direction you want them to face creates a line formation for any troops not already in formation. Cossacks also has transports for move men and equipment across bodies of water. This is a nice feature to have and unlike many other games the AI does know how to use these ships and will attack your island with ground troops and ships of war.
Bases are another matter. Most bases consist of dwellings, a Town Hall, mines, farms, unit producing buildings, research buildings, a place to hire Mercenaries from and a market place. Some maps may or may not have Iron or Gold or Coal. This is where the market place comes in. You see no resource can be used up. This means the games can last for a very long time. I like to see this in games because I prefer it that way but what if you don’t have iron ? Well you create more peasants and have them produce more wood, stone, gold or coal and then sell that product in the market so you can buy Iron. Any resource can be brought and sold this way.
Artillery, Peasants and Buildings have one thing in common. They can be captured. If you do not have a soldier near them when an enemy unit gets too close some buildings and all artillery and peasants can be captured. Building Stone walls, Wooden Walls and Defence Towers then researching the improvements to make them stronger and more dangerous helps. If a group of light cavalry get through though your going to find half your base erupt into flames and the other half will be captured by the enemy.
For this reason its important to cut off the approaches to your base from the enemy early on with cannon and musketeers with some Pikemen as a backup. Wall can be destroyed if UN defended but the units I have mentioned above will cut down even the largest force unless the attacker uses cannon too.
Tactics that work in this game can be read in any history book covering 17th century combat. Pikemen advance with weapons raised then lower them as they close on the enemy. Musketeers advance, stop & fire and advance again. Formations break up when passing obstacles then reform at the other side before continuing. Pikemen will stop cavalry, Cannon will stop almost anything. Musketeers will shoot down rank after rank of troops but Cavalry may get through.
Combine the effects of a base that can be captured with the ability to build enemy units from those bases you could in theory be using all units from every race in the game if the game would allow that many players.
Also with the knock on effect of resources meaning taking out mines and farms is a defiant winning strategy in its own right and knowing that you need more of these to build a bigger army you can see how this game gains a whole level of detail beyond the visual range most players fall for.
As for the graphics, they are some of the best I have seen in a game of this type. No 3D here but the old style 2d works very well for this game and lets you create Epic Battles of huge proportions even on low end computers. Something that would be impossible on even the fastest systems today if it was in 3D. Still I miss he switch able;e camera options of Dark Reign, Earth 2150 and others.
Whilst it would be difficult to tell you of all the features this game has, it is easy to name some of the ones I enjoy the most because it is these features that make this game shine. From formations through to resources and Graphics. The level of detail this game provides adds several new layers to what it means to be a Real Time Strategy Game. Games like Earth 2150, Dark Reign and even Total Annihilation which have been recognized as adding important elements to the RTSG genre are made to look very primitive by Cossacks standards.
Beautifully crafted game play covers up the rich level of detail that will add to the fun factor later on after many games have been put on the scrap heap and forgotten. This same underlying detail is a reward for those that care to look deeper into Cossacks and get the most out of it.
One thing Cossacks has got by the truck load is Strategies and Tactics that will work and work well. No more inventing situations were you can finally use a tactic in your favourite game. No more listing hundreds of different tactics that only ever get used once every thousands years because the game simply doesn’t encourage that kind of game play. Not here. Here your victories are tactical victories and a winning a game is purely down to a superior strategy. Everything else you can leave to the “Command and Conquer” clones 🙂
So Tacticians, Step forward and prove your worth!
INFORMATION ABOUT THIS CONTENT:
Date of publish: 2001 (exact date is not known)
Language of publish: english