Without regurgitating what's been said before, Cossacks II is an increasingly charming 2D RTS set in the Napoleonic era, where ranks of troops shoot their load and spend an excruciatingly tense minute trying to ram their balls back into their barrel. This here Battle For Europe then, is what some publishers would call a 'Game Of The Year' edition - but, of course, seeing as Cossacks II failed to garner any such awards, it becomes by necessity a 'standalone expansion'. Standalone because it's the original game, expansion because it's got some added bits.
The original game had one-off battles, a skirmish option, a linear single-player campaign that played more like Age Of Empires, and also a Battle For Europe mode. This slipped in one of those increasingly popular Risk-like maps so you could move armies about the various provinces before controlling them on the field of battle.
Apart from some naming confusion, what Battle For Europe adds specifically are three new nations, a smattering of new unit types, a couple of single-player campaigns and some standalone historical missions. Such clichéd features require a clichéd critique, prompting me to say this is largely a by-the-numbers add-on offering more of the same. The Battle For Europe mode, despite being the name taken for this release, is hardly enriched by the new units, and the linear campaigns go over the same old ground. More intriguing are the historical battles such as Borodino and Waterloo, but they simply highlight that historical accuracy is not the game's strongest aspect.
The appeal of Cossacks II lies in the battles. Wheeling your troops around to get as many rifles in range as possible and ordering them to open up at the exact right time is key. It's a puzzle game in that respect, one of timing and placement, exacerbated by factors like morale and fatigue. As nothing has changed here, Cossacks II remains an enjoyable re-enactment of wholesale slaughter as any you could hope for. If you missed the game before, then this is a great introduction to one of gaming's great mid-table franchises. Fans who laid out the full whack for the original release should be more wary, however.
- Unique style of combat
- Lots of senseless killing
- Wide variety of game modes
- Good value
- More meat on same bones