Game review on PC
Eamon Ward / Wed 1st Feb 2017
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OVERVIEW Cossacks 3 is the latest game in the Cossacks series, a group of strategy titles that take place during the 17th and 18th centuries. It's a call back to classic strategy like Age of Empires or Rise of Nations, but unfortunately never quite manages to reach those same heights.
STORYLINE Cossacks 3 doesn't have any plot or characters, anywhere. There are a number of campaigns, each broken down into individual missions ; primarily go here and build this, or go there and kill them.
For the most part, Cossacks 3 has pretty solid gameplay. While its mechanics are almost identical to classic strategy titles, there are enough small changes to make it feel a little different.
First and foremost, Cossacks 3 is the biggest strategy game of this type I've seen. Villages will quickly become sprawling cities and armies can count in the thousands. But size on this scale brings with it a plethora of problems.
Cossacks 3 has a major issue with resource management. When you have over a hundred villagers, it becomes painful to ensure they're all doing their jobs. Some buildings require constant upgrading and additional workers to maintain their effectiveness; while others take so long to build you'll find yourself piling your entire workforce into the construction of a single structure.
And then there are the battles. When hundreds, and occasionally thousands, of units meet in glorious combat it is without a doubt thoroughly exciting. But when fifty pikemen try to catch a single cavalry unit, while your cannons fire on your own men and your muskets are overrun by swordsman, it all becomes a little aggravating. Cossacks 3 suffers from some truly stupid player AI and enemy AI that blatantly cheats.
Cossacks 3 is at its best, oddly enough, at sea. The naval battles are small enough that they are easier to manage than the colossal mess that is land combat. This might be because the larger ships are more expensive to construct, or because they take longer to build; but it's far more fun to wage war on the high seas than it is to watch five thousand units descend into a writhing mass of pain and suffering.
GRAPHICS It looks good. Not the best but it's certainly up there. The unit animations are excellent, the visuals clean and well modelled, and the effects have sufficient volume and punch.
AUDIO Cossacks 3 has some good audio, most notably the sound effects, which all sound appropriate enough. Unfortunately, any good will found there is lost, not in the quality of the music, but in when it plays. I've heard battle music play while farming and tranquil music play in pitched battle. It completely kills the experience and I often find myself turning it off.
VERDICT In terms of pure scale, Cossacks 3 is in a league of its own but it's that same scale that brings it down. While hardly a bad game, it can be infuriatingly difficult in ways that strategy games simply shouldn't. If you really want that classic strategy feel, Cossacks 3 will do but the classics are still better.