Review

Cossacks II: Battle for Europe Review (PC)

Cossacks II – Battle for Europe, out to take over Europe with their new stand-alone expansion which adds a turn-based skirmish mode.

To France! They're in our sights…

Once the game started, I took interest at the introduction, while it was not the best (or well acted) it still does the trick of getting you in a ‘take-over-Europe’ battling mood. Once I had started, I took this chance to take a peak at the tutorials, which do give you a nice idea of how the game mechanics work though a little sparse on the details of what you have to do. These tutorials are very helpful (as you would expect) you get to get acquainted with certain aspects of the game, as well as learning some strategies too. One example of this is the fact the terrain affects your strategies, such as being able to dodge bullets while hiding in forests, using the trees as a shield. If you have never played Cossacks before you’ll like some of these realistic additions over the usual strategy games. I know I was impressed.

Now to the Battle for Europe, in the beginning you are able to pick from the countries within Europe allowing you to say have Spain take all of Europe. I was much happier leading the British army into battle; take that France, Spain, Italy… Unfortunately it is not that quick, as mentioned this is a turn based system and there are five to six teams so it is a long process.

A simple map interface gives you all the control you need over your army and keeps you informed of all movements that the enemy makes. The map zooms to the enemies units and shows you the action they take. The map also gives you a view of the resources you currently have available at your disposal.

The AI is quite smart, and to a degree annoying as it seems to use teasing tactics and with the game not having a difficulty setting below that of normal you have to jump straight into the game and rely on the enemy being stupid. The AI will keep their units coming as much as they can, and unlike the usual setup of strategy games these enemies do not keep coming along the same path. As to what I meant by teasing tactics, the AI will sometimes act slowly, thus making you want to rush out to the slaughter. Imagine this scenario, your units are lined up in the tree line, watching the enemy come towards you… waiting for your plan to come into action and expecting them to fire, miss and be blown away by you. Now same again but as the enemy comes towards you, they stop… and wait… now making you impatient and waiting to rush out and fire. You see, the enemy seems to think in a way that makes you want to react early… either that or I just could not stand watching the French enemy pinning me down.

Graphics are the main aspect of all games and while the games graphic engine does seem up to date, they have chosen to stick to their original style of Cossacks.

Vast landscapes ranging far enough to house a minimum of two bases. Yes, the maps may not be the biggest but that can be a good thing ranging from the less graphics to process, to the smaller spaces the enemy can hide in. The landscape itself however is quite detailed with plenty of trees, the odd mountains and the vast grassy plains. There is little to be said for or against the games landscapes really, the detail is there, it looks nice enough to blow apart with cannon and gunfire, and it just suits the game well.

Quickly! Destroy the building Attention!

The issue with the models is that they are too small to notice that much, and unless in large groups the models of individuals go unnoticed. Though even when lowering the resolution the models become stretched and you cannot really make a good comparison. But they seem to be detailed enough to make it look realistic, having an army of little men marching around in the British royal guard helmets.

Graphical effects are nothing hugely spectacular though what is available is not too bad. The graphical effects in the game are mainly little things such as the smoke from the rifles to the swaying wheat on the fields. Other then that, I would not say there are many more effects that draw much attention.

The interface the game uses blends in nicely not looking out of place or spliced in and to add to that, it’s easy to use too. That is however once you understand some of the bars you’ll be looking at. There is not really that much to say about the interface really, it works, it looks good and it’s simple …there.

Overall the graphics are very good, not the most spectacular, but using the Cossacks usual graphical engine. While the graphics are good, I do start to question how much they strain lower systems, even on 1024x768 with medium settings I still think there is not enough there to drain the system resources that much.

Musically, you need something to entertain yourself though any game, as no music equals …”boring”. It’s a good job then that Cossacks II – Battle for Europe has its fair collection of musical enhancements. The music has a nice collection of tracks and will continually play so there is no worry about that. The tracks are quite motivating pushing you into a spectacular performance when wiping out the enemy and with some strategy games such as Rise of Nations or Empire Earth the tracks sound slightly similar to one another making then seamlessly loop, though in the midst of battle you would not notice that anyway.

Due to this being an expansion with less towards story and more to the addition of implementing the turn-based system the storyline voices are not a huge concern, though there are some instances where someone is speaking, these are normally pretty good and is more of a narrative voice which are often not too shabby anyway.

The sound effects are excellent. They compliment each action within the game well, from firing rifles, shooting cannons to destroying buildings; it really does make you feel part of the battleground. I can tell you now that the riflemen were the first formation I played in the tutorial and I am telling you, once you line up several formations of riflemen on the battlefield and hit that shoot button you’ll be won round by the sound of the mass-rifle shooting, letting loose a barrage of bullets at once!

The main issue I had when playing Battle for Europe was the fact that I had not played the original Cossacks II – Napoleonic Wars, and only barely managed to play Cossacks the original, nor had I ever been a huge fan of the game title. Now with that said, once I started up Battle for Europe and got used to its controls and started up the tutorials I was immediately impressed. Just to be able to control good looking formations with simple commands was great, and I will admit I did like and enjoy how the unit groups reacted to formations, such as square & line. Watching the formations march down the roads or lining up into three lines, one behind the other, with rifles loaded waiting to fire on the unsuspecting enemy.


“We’re on our way to Amarillo” Take aim, FIRE!

Overall, despite my lacking interest for the Cossacks game titles, I was surprisingly impressed by the game play (not that I can remain patient for long with turn-based games), though slightly disappointed at the immense strain the game causes to lower end systems. However that being said, if you are looking for an interesting new strategy game but don’t want to pay out that much, the fact that this expansion still acts as a stand alone game (though does not have a very expansive campaign mode) this would be something to try out.

Top game moment: Marching in the riflemen, changing to line formation, waiting till the enemy comes into range and… 3… 2… 1… FIRE!

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