Cohort: Fighting for Rome
for Amiga (OCS/ECS)

Mr Creosote:
Company: Impressions
Year: 1991
Genre: Strategy
Theme: Historical / War
Language: English, Deutsch, Français, Italiano, Castellano
Licence: Commercial
Views: 10825
Review by Mr Creosote (2016-11-19)

In 1990, Impressions released Rorke's Drift, a wargame with an interesting setting (the Anglo-Zulu War) with a fresh challenge (defending a lightly fortified position against an overwhelming force). Problem was, in spite of its attempts to be accessible with its cartoonish graphics and icon-driven interface, it was basically unplayable. Cohort is basically just Rorke's Drift all over again, with a slightly different setting.

Unclear icons, as we're used to from Impressions

A setting, which is actually less interesting: the severely overused height of the Roman empire. The graphical artists were too lazy to draw more than one sprite set, though, so all battles are blue Romans against red Romans. In fact, graphically, the game is also even a bit worse, because there is no scenery anymore.

In theory, there are four different battlefields to choose from. The first one is “open field”, i.e. a big area of nothing. Next is “hills”, which is an area of nothing where cavalry move a little slower. Third, we have “bridge”, which could be really interesting – if the river weren't just a minor obstacle slowing down units a little, much like the hills. Finally, there is “cliff defence”, which is unbelievably baffling. One army just has an abyss behind it. Other than that, it is just an open field. There is no game mechanic pushing an opponent backwards. So the abyss is totally pointless – unless somebody actively decides to intentionally walk into it.

Activate the floating modules!

Or maybe that could happen due to the bad interface. Although there are some minor improvements, like being able to command more than one soldier at a time and not being forced to manually reload ranged weapons anymore, overall it is still every bit as complicated and unintuitive as before. Mouse reactivity is still hit-and-miss and scrolling is still extremely jerky to the point that you'll often jump to a completely different part of the screen than you intended to. The viewpoint being way too close to the action (enabling the cartoony graphics), making a lot of scrolling necessary, doesn't help in this respect.

In theory, there is sufficient tactical detail present in the engine. However, unit formations turn into chaos as soon as you try to move them, and finally break apart completely once enemies are encountered anyway. Eight unit types promise rock-paper-scissors effects, but nothing is effectively visible in-game. Unit values like morale can be safely ignored. The empty battlefields are not large enough to enable really tactical approaches other than full frontal assaults.

It's a pity that attempts to make the wargame genre more attractive at that time mostly resulted in shallow crud like this. This particular game doesn't even manage to have a usable interface to go along with its pretended “accessibility”. Battles are as plain and uninspiring as it gets. Stay away!

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