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By Leigh Cobb02-03-2013
Bobfish (editor)
Blankdoor (editor)

The Defence

GSC Game World
Strategy First
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Pentium 200 MHz
AMD equivalent
Nvidia 16 MB card
AMD equivalent
32 MB
200 MB

GSC Game World, as you may know, are the developers of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R series, released on the PC between 2007 and 2010. But before garnering fame with S.T.A.L.K.E.R and becoming the darling child of PC gamers everywhere, they released a little known RTS series by the name of Cossacks.

Starting with Cossacks: European Wars in 2001, this was the second game developed by GSC, the first being Codename: Outbreak, a sci-fi FPS released a few months before. European Wars proved enough of a success that it spawned two expansion packs in 2002, the Art of War and Back to War, and even a fully fledged sequel called Cossacks II: Napoleonic Wars in 2005.

Assemble your army and fleet, then invade!

Assemble your army and fleet, then invade!

Cossacks was generally well received at the time of its release, receiving average to good reviews and selling quite modestly. What is remarkable however, is the success the series would go on to have, latest counts put the number of Cossacks games sold at around 4 million. For a series so forgotten, with a dedicated fan base so small, it is a surprise to see such success in terms of numbers shifted worldwide.

But this is a game which shouldn’t be forgotten, although no one mentions it now; preferring to talk about Starcraft, Age of Empires or Command and Conquer when classic RTS games are mentioned, Cossacks is worthy of sitting among the giants of the genre.

The game is set in the 17th and 18th centuries, featuring 21 European nations, all with different units and play styles. The game was as much about base and economy building as it was about the action, although nothing can beat the sight of a couple hundred Musketeers firing on the oncoming cavalry rush. Cossacks was massively unique in that the game allowed 8000 units on screen at any one time, the expansions even removed the limit entirely. After playing Cossacks and experiencing the thrill of commanding armies thousands in strength, going back to Age of Empires where your limit is a puny few hundred is jarring.

Your town may look pretty now, but wait until the enemy reduces most of it to rubble.

Your town may look pretty now, but wait until the enemy reduces most of it to rubble.

It wasn’t just in scale where the game impressed, combat was tactical and meaningful, unlike so many other RTS games. Cossacks made it a requirement to be able to think, plan and act accordingly in the heat of battle. Are Poland’s cavalry units closing in on Prussia’s powerful Musketeers? Well move your Pikemen up to cover them and meet the threat. Outnumbered by an advancing army? Use cannons to disperse them and your cavalry to run them off.

Cossacks truly is a remarkable RTS game, but its story is tragic. It lays forgotten amongst modern games, when it should be a jewel of PC gaming, proudly triumphed. For those who have played it, no doubt they know the same appeal that this massive game has to offer.

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