Cohort 2 logo

Impressions * 071-351 2133 * £29.99

Those who always wanted Asterix dead or were desperate to use the word 'phalanx' had their prayers answered when the original Cohort was released. That was a tricky little strategy game with Legoland graphics and a nice imperial feel, let down by a disappointing lack of playability.

With Cohort II there's no real storyline - it's more of a military exercise than a campaign. But while it introduces a fresh set of manoeuvres to be conquered one by one, the game can also be linked to that great autocracy simulator, Caesar, as a datadisk, which is a great bonus. Ten new arenas of combat are unveiled by the sequel, each with their own distinctive terrain to which you and the enemy must adapt your strategy.

Basically the aim of each battle is to slaughter the opposition by whatever means spring to mind as you adopt the stiff jawline of an ancient Roman general. Sadly, even if you try to bring this game to life yourself, all the enhanced graphics and sound in the world won't save a flawed formula.

Mounting an attack is a simple, but monotonous, procedure for a start. You can manipulate your army either by controlling each individual soldier or by moving units. Alternatively, you can charge the army in one mass into the enemy spears, hoping that they will steamroller everything in oblivion. Surprisingly, this strategy is preferable after a while, simply to avoid a repetitive sequence of selecting and clicking. This sort of strategy game does demands a step-by-step, and ultimately boring procedure, but why stick with a board game formula to begin with?

The artwork in the game is a slight improvement on the original style, but even with due respect to the number of soldiers on the screen at once, animation is poor and Roman Legomen still fight barbarian Legomen on a Legoland playing field; but you do not get to build anything. The sound is tinny, unrealistic and simply not what you'd expect to hear from a thousand sweaty Italians beating merry hell out of each other with swords.

Cohort II seems to waiver between strategic influence and full player-participation without the sparkle it needs for a successful balance. The battles differ only because of the armies who fight in them and when opponents are equally matched, the conflict can really take ages. Devout fans of Caesar who will play for a full-price game on a datadisk may find this interesting, but for the rest of us the game has limited enjoyment.

Katastrophe II

Cohort 2 logo

An den 1991 erschienenen Vorganger erinnern sich garantiert nur noch die Sammler von strategischen Total-Flops und sonstigen Kuriositäten. Die und nur die durfen sich jetzt über Nachschub freuen.

Keine Sorge, großartige Verbesserungen sind nicht zu befürchten, die Unterschiede zum herrlich verhunzten ersten Teil halten sich in engen Grenzen: Es gibt mehr Fixfertig-Szenarios, und wer das ebenfalls aus dem Hause Impressions stammende Strategical "Caesar" besitzt, kann die beiden Games miteinander verbinden.

Die Probe aufs Exempel haben wir uns ehrlich gesagt erspart - es war schon schlimm genug, diese spielerische Katastrophe alleine zu testen! Die neue alte Aufgabe besteht darin, in der Zeit um Christi Geburt eine romische Armee aufzustellen und damit bose Barbaren niederzubugeln. Dazu stehen Infanterie, Kavallerie und Bogenschutzen mit ihren jeweiligen Vor- und Nachteilen zur Verfugung, die per Maus in eine möglichst zweckmassige Formation gebracht werden.

Wem das zu mühsam ist, der kann auch eine der acht Retorten-Armeen nehmen und sich damit auf die insgesamt zwanzig Schlachtenszenarios stürzen. So weit, so durchschaubar, doch jetzt wird's zappenduster:

Das Deutsche Handbuch drückt sich nicht nur unklar aus, es erspart sich auch die Erläuterung der wichtigsten Icons im Spiel. Selbst wen man deren Funklion schließlich durch Probieren herausfindet, hat man immer noch mit der unübersichtlichen Screendarstelllung zo kampfen - im großen Schlachtgetummel lassen sich die einzelnen Truppen kaum voneinander unterscheiden.

Als passende Untermalung fur die Wüsten Keilereien werden grauenhafte FX, ruckelndes Scrolling und eine sehr, sehr zögerliche Mausabfrage serviert. Also alles wie gehabt. (md)

Cohort 2 logo

Where did Caesar keep his armies? Well, on his floppies, if this Roman battle wargame is to be entirely believed.

Put your feet up, stick on your favourite Garfield slippers and give out a huge sigh of relief, Mr. Jonathan Davies, 'cos your wargaming days could well be numbered. It's a particularly well-hidden fact here on AP that Jonathan is not actually the huge wargame fan we make him out to be - it is just that up to now, the regular staff writers hated, loathed and despised most wargames with the sort of venom and antipathy generally reserved for cabinet ministers.

But not any more though: enter stage left Cam "Way back in the 'Nam" Winstanley, the guy who's proud to admit that he likes guns, the guy who spent three years at college blowing things up and filming them, the guy who genuinely DOES love the smell of napalm in the mornings. (Okay, so it's all hype, but I reckon that building a 'larger than life' magazine persona is one of the many facets of the job. I mean look at Stuart, he's got size 6 shoes but his ego's a 13 at least. But I digress).

Although it's a game in itself, Cohort 2 can be linked with Caesar, to form a sort of all-encompassing Roman extravaganza experience, only minus the lions and being-graphically-unpleasant-to-Christians bits. Apparently, it's also (and I quote from the box) "a more than worthy successor to the original Cohort". Blimey, I think it has to be a Good Thing that I never saw the original without all the 'enhanced' features.

The idea behind the game is to create a table-top battle on a computer, which is a concept that I can definitely get my head around. Many were the weekends I spent during my teenage years, crammed into the spare bedroom with my mates, moving little legions of Orks and Goblins and Elven miniatures across a large expanse of green felt and rolling entire helmetfuls of dice to decide the outcome of each conflict.

omething resembling your average terrace brawl

So why doesn't Cohort 2 impress me then? Well, for a start there's no two-player option that would let you mash your mates, leaving you completely in the solitary world of Lonelygamer, Nofriendsville. Secondly, even though there are eight different terrains, they're all pretty similar, and once you've got two armies wedged in, there isn't very much room for manoeuvring, or tactics, or anything that makes wargames such a pleasure for those who prefer a more cerebral form of entertainment than pressing the fire button.

The control system is mercifully user-friendly: all you have to do is click on a unit, then tell them which way to face, where to move to, and how fast, and they're off. The action freezes whenever you give orders, so there is no pressure to react to the battle in real time. However, once you've moved your troops near the enemy, things rapidly get confusing, and any semblance of order goes out the window as the entire battle regresses to something resembling your average European Cup Quarter Final terrace brawl.

This isn't fun, or interesting, or anything really. The archers do not kill soldiers fast enough to stop them advancing, the cavalry do not seem particularly good at anything other than looking horsey, and after a few goes, you tend to fast-forward the game to see the outcome. Plus, if you let the game play all the way through without giving a single command, you still stand a good chance of winning - hardly a bonus for strategy fans.

Cohort 2 is pretty and accessible, but it's starting to dawn on me why poor old Jonathan always gets the wargames.

Cohort 2 logo In the Bin: Worst Amiga game of June 1993


The Roman Empire spawned a fair amount of nutters and geniuses in its time, all of whom would be shocked by this interpretation of how their legions fought. This strategic recreation of Roman military combat thoroughly grinds several centuries of their research training and refining firmly into the dirt.

There are 16 preset scenarios which pit differing numbers of troops against each other over various types of terrain. These are designed to force you to vary your tactics but in reality you just end up sending in your different units at different times.

If you own a copy of Impressions previous Roman strategy, Caesar (which was a damn sight better than this), it is possible to link the two games. Now instead of relying on the computer to decide the outcome of battles, you can actually control the troops yourself.

When a group meets some opposition they all tend to come to a stop even if only one unit is actually fighting. This means that you have to issue a separate set of orders to each unit which is not only time consuming, but very boring. The combat itself seems extremely unrealistic. For instance a heavily armoured cavalry group can take ages to dispose of a few units of poorly equipped infantry.

I appreciate the programmers trying to make this game simple to get into, but they've omitted so many possible features that there's just not much of a game in there.

It's merely a case of telling your men to go to point A and kill everything they find. Which they'll obligingly so. It doesn't take long for the game to become utterly tedious and if it does have any good points I failed to find them.

When a battle does occur you get to see it in glorious sad-sprite o-vision. The little soldiers gallantly try to overcome the handicap of having a minimal number of animation frames while their equally disadvantaged foes try to break through their lines.

This is an extremely shoddy package which looks as though it was chucked together on a wet weekend. A double thumbs down and no mistake.