This is one of the hardest real-time strategy games I have ever played. With great game play elements, beautiful graphics, and the ability to control hundreds of on screen units simultaneously, if you're a game-god then Cossacks II: Napoleonic Wars is the extreme challenge you've been dreaming of.
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The best parts
Fun and enjoyable adventure using tactical formations and battle strategies of armies of the Napoleonic age and capturing the stately chaos of the Napoleonic wars quite well.
Felt like a General or Marshal commanding troops against a determined and intelligent opponent who was more than my equal on the field of battle, a real challenge.
Bright, colourful game presentation of game graphics grabs the eye and draws you into the wonderfully composed and detailed maps that add to the fun and enjoyment.
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The worst parts
Naval battle was a very important aspect of the Napoleonic Wars, but Cossacks II: Napoleonic Wars barely touches the subject, and the English navy is so ineffectual that the French invade England directly across the English Channel. This is definitely an area that should have received more attention from the developers.
The game is set up to be very difficult, during the single-player campaign the computer was able to sustain logistics support for his troops, even after I had captured or cut-off all his supply lines for a considerable amount of time. The enemy must have greater ability to store than me, because I could not sustain logistics support once my lines of logistics had been interrupted by the enemy.
History fans will have to take the campaign mode with a grain of salt, if they were expecting a historically accurate game, because this game isn't the historical truth in action.
This is one of the most difficult games I have ever played; it made me pull my hair out at several points, especially since it has no easy setting, the first setting being normal difficulty.
Bugs did appear during game play, even with my top-line graphics and sound cards and fast processor, causing my Vista Home Premium PC to crash twice during my many hours of play.
Occasionally, loading saved games can lead to the copy being corrupted and the system crashing. To prevent this and give yourself the saved game you want to play, create several different saved copies at multiple points during game play, instead of one universal save.
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The game graphics
The new engine developed for Cossacks II: Napoleonic Wars doesn't provide the visual experience we have been expecting; certainly it's an improvement over Cossacks II: European Wars, but its still a 2D engine that needs improvement. The designers were given a broader color palette with which to create the big presentation of maps strewn with realistic looking villages and towns connected by roads surrounded by organic looking terrain. The infantry, calvary, and artillery have all been well rendered, but there's no zoom-in to take a closer look at the men. The same is true of the maps, you can zoom-out to get a better view of the map, but you can't zoom-in to get a real close look.
The designers did include video-clips of war scene re-enactments of Napoleons battles in Russia that play in a small window, but unfortunately there are only a few clips that loop, over and over.
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In the single player campaign you step into the role of a prominent British Officer fighting for god, country and king, and to protect his fiance from rebellious nobles in league with the sneaky French. The French are attacking directly across the English Channel, into the heart of England, and are planning to turn England into a lesser-province of France. You will fight the French invaders on the beaches, in the any weather and to the death.
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Sounds of the game
The over the top audible presentation of the sound effects are hard to hear at times; over the overly bombastic, synthesized orchestra playing on the soundtrack, but when you do they add to the battles and scenes. Take away the soundtrack, which is still bouncing around in my head, like a bad headache, and the sounds of the game improve tremendously.
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Cossacks II: Napoleonic Wars is one of the most challenging and difficult real time strategy games available, with game play, mechanics and computer generated opponents that show intelligence and the ability to occasionally learn.
The variety of single player campaigns, options for head to head or group multiplayer battles, and a number of difficulty levels above the easiest, which is the normal setting in this game, makes Cossacks II an extremely playable game for the RTS guru. Gamers without experience playing today's RTS games will probably find this game to have far too sharp a learning curve though, and may want to work their way up to this title.
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The final mark
An extreme RTS gaming challenge that will probably only appeal to RTS fanatics, Cossacks II: Napoleonic Wars requires patience, skill, and a love for working your way through impossible military situations. A great game pace that has resource management aspects that add to the experience, but don't slow down the game to a snails pace, which makes this game a lot more enjoyable for the RTS fanatic.
History fans will still love this game, even though it's not really a historically accurate game, but it does incorporate historical elements that help to improve the experience. History fans who have dreamed of re-playing the European wars of Napoleons age will love the Battle for Europe campaign that allows you to play as one of the six big nations of the period.
If you love RTS genre video games, and haven't tried Cossacks II: Napoleonic Wars, then you will find this game the extreme challenge you have been dreaming about, with a few issues, certainly, but overall a pretty good and fun experience. If you don't like RTS games, and you want to give yourself a headache, give Cossacks II a try; just don't send me the bill for your pain killers.