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Cossacks II: Battle for Europe PC DVD-ROM

Published by CDV Software Entertainment
Developed by GSC Game World
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £19.99

Cossacks II: Battle for Europe, an introduction.

As good as Cossacks II: Napoleonic Wars was I have to admit to being slightly disappointed with the game. The original Cossacks: European Wars was quite simply an impressive game with large scale battles that made everything else at the time look quite pathetic. Cossacks II just didn't have the same impact though. The big disappointment was that there was no way of playing the Battle for Europe mode online but overall the game just didn't have that level of quality I had been expecting ever since Cossacks II was first announced. Here we have the first expansion for Cossacks II, albeit a standalone one, so let's see how it shapes up and whether it is the game Cossacks II: Napoleonic Wars should have been. 

What's the game about?

Cossacks II: Battle for Europe adds three new nations, Spain, Poland and Rhine. There are 180 units in total, new formations and 190 different buildings. Four new campaigns have been added. The campaigns are The Hundred Days Campaign (France), The Road to Vienna (Rhine), The Honour of the Polish Crown (Poland) and The Question of Iberia (Spain). Six additional skirmish maps have been added too. Because of the new nations that have been added the Battle for Europe maps has increased in size by 10 sectors. In fact in theory at least, this Battle for Europe expansion certainly seems value for money.

What's good about the game?

Like all previous expansions in the Cossacks series, Battle for Europe is a standalone expansion meaning that you don't need to own a copy of Cossacks II: Napoleonic Wars in order to play the game. Aside from the original campaigns you're getting pretty much the full single-player and multiplayer content of Napoleonic Wars which is even more good news if you don't own a copy of that game. The AI appears to have been sharpened since Napoleonic Wars (it seems more intelligent with its attacks and manoeuvres) which adds to the challenge somewhat but also means you'll have an AI opponent who can't be so easily exploited.

What's not so good about the game?

New content aside, there's not a lot different with how the game plays. Yes the AI has been sharpened up but aside from that the game feels very similar to Cossacks II: Napoleonic Wars. The new nations don't really add anything different to the game, which is unfortunate. The Battle for Europe mode still cannot be played online, which is disappointing. It's also disappointing that the screen resolution for the Battle for Europe mode is fixed at the screen resolution of 1024x768. You'll find yourself having to constantly scroll around the map because the resolution is just too small and on a 17" TFT and above it looks pretty blurry. The Battle for Europe mode still forces you to play as the nation you picked when creating a profile rather than letting you decide who to play as when playing the game.

How does it look?

Graphically there have been no improvements over Cossacks II: Napoleonic Wars which was to be expected with an expansion pack. The 2D game engine is beginning to look old now though and the performance can be a little choppy at times. You can zoom in and out but the ranges of zoom are few and fixed, which isn't entirely satisfactory.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

Battle for Europe is identical to Napoleonic Wars in its provision for deaf gamers meaning there are no problems. The game is subtitled so you'll be able to follow the campaign's story. During the dialogue the character who is speaking is highlighted. Portraits of the characters who are conversing appear next to the dialogue at the bottom of the screen. All messages are show in text. During a game an envelope icon will appear on the left side of the screen and clicking on this will show you the message. The tutorials are subtitled. During the game you'll see floating text messages from the units as they come under attack. These messages all relate to their morale and will show you if the men are scared or fear for their lives.

Final thoughts.

Cossacks II: Battle for Europe is another solid RTS title from GSC Game World. Oddly enough it's easier to recommend to those who didn't purchase Cossacks II: Napoleonic Wars as much of what's here isn't that different from what Napoleonic Wars contained. If you purchased Napoleonic Wars and must get your hands on some new campaigns and three new nations (that aren't really that different from those in the Napoleonic Wars) then you'll be happy with Battle for Europe and at least you'll be getting a better AI this time around. It's disappointing though that the Battle for Europe mode still can't be played online but I daresay that's something to hope for in a future expansion.

Overall Game Rating: 7.5/10

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Cossacks II: Battle for Europe is a fine addition to the Cossacks series. It doesn't differ greatly from Cossacks II: Napoleonic Wars though and is actually a more appealing option for those who have yet to purchase Cossacks II: Napoleonic Wars.