Cossacks: Back to War
Cossacks was the first RTS that gave gamers what they had wanted all along, large scale warfare. Prior to Cossacks, RTS games had insisted on small scale battles that looked plain ridiculous. If you think of Age of Empires, the most units you could have per side was 200. Of course we know Age of Empires was a great game but along with many other RTS games at the time, it could not deliver the epic battles that gamers craved. Cossacks was able to give the gamer battles of thousands rather than tens and to make it extra nice, it was a top game in every other department too. After terrific sales of both Cossacks and it's expansion disk: The Art of War, it is no surprise that we have a second expansion disk, Cossacks: Back to War.
Cossacks: Back to War is a stand alone expansion (it doesn't need the original Cossacks in order to play) on the face of it this seems like a great opportunity for first timers to get in on the act. The game features a reworked, extended tutorial that explains every aspect of the game and gives you an increased awareness of how to play this strategy epic. The one comment I would make against buying Back to War if you don't own the original game and first expansion, is that it doesn't have any campaigns. The campaigns in the original game were superb. Back to War comes with a tutorial, 101 new single missions and a random map generator, all of which are excellent but what you have to consider is that for the same money (£19.99) you can buy a double pack of Cossacks and The Art of War and you'll get most of the features of Back to War as well as the excellent campaigns. Back to War has superior qualities when it comes to the multiplayer side of things but for the single player experience I would personally go for the double pack of the original game and the expansion.
If you already own the previous titles you may be pleased to know that there are two more nationalities, the Swiss and the Hungarians. As with all the other nations in the game they come with their own individual architecture and both have some unique units. For a further run down on the new features check our preview out here. There is also a Mod patch included on the CD that adds over 30 new units as well as making some exciting modifications to the game. Once installed a separate shortcut to the Mod version of Back to War is created so the modified version does not affect your Back to War installation. Effectively the Mod patch gives you a sort of mini-expansion for free which is very nice.
All our comments about Cossacks regarding the graphics and suitability for deaf gamers are still true for Back to War. The single player missions all give there information via dialogue boxes which pause the game whilst they are onscreen. When you are under attack a trumpet sounds and this is highlighted on the mini-map. The bottom line is that Cossacks is absolutely fine for deaf gamers.
Back to War is a great stand-alone expansion that will please fans of the original game and first expansion disk. The only question I would make against it is that if you don't own Cossacks then you're better off with the double pack that includes the original game and the first expansion pack because it is the same price and comes with the excellent campaigns.
Overall Game Rating: 8.3/10 A very good addition to the Cossacks range but beginners would be better off with the original game and first expansion double pack.
Deaf Gamers comment: No problems at all.