One of our favourite real-time strategy games of recent years is Cossacks, and sales figures from across Europe show that we're not alone. Unfortunately the game didn't fare quite so well in the US though, which is where American Conquest comes in...
Conquering The New World
At first sight American Conquest is simply Cossacks in the New World. The original game focused on European conflicts, taking in everything from the Thirty Years War to the Ukrainian war of independence, which no doubt left most Americans (and many Europeans, for that matter) at a loss. By contrast, American Conquest is based on the exploration and exploitation of the Americas.
As such the wide selection of European nations available in Cossacks will be replaced by Aztecs, Mayans, Incas, Iroqoui, Hulon and Pueblo, amongst other native tribes and empires. These are joined by British, Spanish and French invaders, and (eventually) the rebellious colonies that formed the early United States. In all the game covers some three centuries of American history, from the arrival of Christopher Columbus and the conquistadors through to the dawn of the USA.
Once again this story will be portrayed through a mixture of single missions and lengthy campaigns, although hopefully developers GSC will get the balance a bit more even this time. In the past Cossacks campaign missions have tended to be rather overwhelming, while the stand-alone missions and skirmish mode were if anything a little too easy. No doubt the real beauty of the game though will be its comprehensive range of multiplayer options, with the now familiar deathmatch and historical battle modes being supplemented by an intriguing "battle for America" campaign. This looks set to build on the new features included in the Cossacks add-on pack Art Of War, allowing players and rival clans to fight over territory on a map of the American continent.
New Improved Recipe
The Cossacks engine and gameplay might be the foundation of American Conquest, but this new game is more than just another mission pack. Buildings can now be occupied, giving the troops within a defensive bonus, and the old system of constructing towers and walls around your city has been replaced by pre-designed fortresses.
Soldiers, buildings, flora and fauna have also been redesigned to suit the new setting, with battle formations and artwork alike based on the best available historical information. One byproduct of this is that while the European nations included in American Conquest may be broadly similar to those found in Cossacks, some of the native American groups should offer a different selection of tactics and technology for players to experiment with.
American Conquest also takes advantage of the changes and improvements introduced in Cossacks' mission packs, including support for vast maps about four times larger than those found in the original game, and the ability to have up to 16,000 units scattered across that territory. This promises to be a truly epic game, and the perfect stopgap while we wait for Cossacks II : Napoleonic Wars. If the core Cossacks gameplay is intact underneath these new features and artwork, GSC should be on to another winner; and with any luck, this time the Americans will buy into it as well.
American Conquest is due for release in the west later this year through German publisher CDV. In the meantime, GSC are looking for volunteers to take part in an open beta test of the game. More details here.
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