American Conquest: Divided Nation PC DVD-ROM
Published by CDV Entertainment/KOCH Media
Developed by GSC Game World
Release Date: 10th February 2006
American Conquest: Divided Nation, an introduction.
American Conquest was the second RTS game, the first being Cossacks – European Wars, from GSC Game World that featured huge battles with many thousands of units on screen at any one time. When Cossacks was first released it was amazing to see battles on such a scale and American Conquest managed to recapture this epic feel. Of course the game wasn't just about battles. Resource management was part of the experience too and you had to make sure you could maintain such large armies if you were to have any chance of success. At the time of their respective releases both Cossacks and American Conquest were great RTS games that offered something different. That was 3 years ago now (in the case of AC anyway) and a lot has happened in the genre since then, including the arrival of GSC Game World's very own Cossacks II.
What's the game about?
American Conquest focused on the battles between the years of 1492 to 1813 whereas American Conquest: Divided Nation focuses on the nineteenth century (1815 to 1865 to be exact) with some of the battles of the American Civil War. With the battles based in the nineteenth century, you'll get to control either the Union, Confederacy, Texan or Mexican armies through a total of 9 new campaigns. You'll get the chance to take part in the epic battles of Gettysburg and Shiloh as well as Chickamauga and the Alamo siege. The game features a total of 9 campaigns, 8 new single missions and random map battles for the single-player. On the multiplayer side of things you'll get to play in Internet battles as well as LAN games and you can play ranked Internet battles, Deathmatch games and the new Battlefield mode.
What's good about the game?
For the most part a link to the American Conquest review would suffice here because the game isn't that different. Sure you'll get to play with more modern armies who are attired in the correct uniforms but essentially, it's a very familiar experience. The new Battlefield mode allows you to play one of twelve missions with a friend. It's hardly anything innovative but it adds to the multiplayer options so that's a bonus I suppose. For the asking price there's a lot of content here and those looking for more of the same that could be found in the original American Conquest certainly shouldn't be adverse to picking up a copy of the game.
What's not so good about the game?
If you haven't played American Conquest or Cossacks (or its sequel) before then you will be dismayed to find that there is no tutorial in American Conquest: Divided Nation. There aren't even any campaigns or scenarios that could be said to ease you into the game and thus serve as a kind of tutorial. What this means is that those who haven't played any of the aforementioned games will simply feel lost and daunted by the game. Even the manual that comes with the game doesn't really offer a tutorial although it does offer information on how to carry out basic tasks in the game. If you haven't yet experienced the Cossacks or American Conquest series, this is definitely not the place to start. Divided Nation doesn't really offer anything new to American Conquest gamers other than the multiplayer Battlefield Mode, new campaigns, 5 playable factions and scenarios. The game engine is still the same and it's still the same old 2D RTS. The way the game plays is essentially the same too. If you're still playing American Conquest and want more of the same this isn't a problem but again it won't really satisfy those who were expecting improvements or innovations.
How does it look?
Your opinion of the graphics will largely depend on how satisfied you were with the original American Conquest. If you were, and indeed still are, happy with how American Conquest looks then you'll be pleased to learn that nothing has really changed so you should like Divided Nation too. However, if you were expecting a move to a 3D engine with all kinds of fancy lighting effects then you're going to be very disappointed. In fairness the graphics are starting to look very dated. American Conquest is almost 3 years old now and to have a game looking the same 3 years later is disappointing. However Divided Nation is a standalone expansion, not a sequel, and since when have expansions ever been expected to radically change the appearance of a game? If one complaint is justified though, it's that the zoom feature really isn't good enough for the scope of the game. You simply have a choice of up close and zoomed right out (where your units look like ants). A zoom level somewhere in between these two extremes would have been a good idea.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
Deaf gamers will not have any problems with Divided Nation as the game is just as deaf gamer friendly as American Conquest was. The dialogue in the campaigns is text only and in fact all the information in the game is displayed via text, so there are no problems at all. Any messages you receive in a campaign scenario or single mission can be recalled using the message history option, which is a very useful feature. The game manual is actually quite good (although certainly no substitute for a tutorial) and even explains, in some detail, how to use the editor which is something you don't often see.
American Conquest: Divided Nations is going to be one of those games that pleases some RTS gamers and upsets others. In essence if you simply want more of American Conquest with virtually no alterations to the basic game play and more campaigns to challenge you, then Divided Nations will satisfy you. Those expecting a sequel or something dramatically different will feel disappointed because Divided Nation is a very similar experience to the game we reviewed 3 years ago. Of course when you factor in the lack of a tutorial you also have a game that's not for newcomers to the Cossacks and American Conquest series. Divided Nations is by no means a bad game but it's really only for the hardcore fans of American Conquest who want more of the same. Those of you with an interest in the game would do well to pick up the original American Conquest (which can be had for less than £10) which contains the tutorial style Columbus' Voyages campaign which manages to shoehorn you into the complexities of the game.
Overall Game Rating: 6.5/10
Deaf Gamers Classification:
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American Conquest: Divided Nation is simply a standalone expansion that offers more of the same for American Conquest fans. It's not an appealing package for newcomers to the series because of the lack of a tutorial. After 3 years since the original American Conquest was released, very little has changed which may come as a disappointment to those expecting game changing features or a 3D game engine.