The original Kohan was a refreshingly new title that took several of the tired RTS elements and tweaked them into something quite enjoyable. It was lauded by the critics but, unfortunately, it was released at such a time as to be buried is a sea of better-hyped, flashier games. Along comes Kohan 2: Kings of War, still refreshingly different than most of the RTS offerings, still very well polished, and still quite enjoyable. And like its predecessor, Kohan 2 is facing some serious competition from some much better-hyped, flashier RTS games. Hopefully it won’t simply fade into “cult” status, since Kohan 2 is a game worthy of notice.
For those fortunate enough to have played the original Kohan, much of Kohan 2 falls into familiar territory. The Kohan, a race of powerful immortal beings, are still at play in the world following the events in the first game and its expansion. The defeated Ceyah (the original’s Big Baddies) are trying to regroup and start the naughtiness up all over again. One of them taps into the netherworld power of the Shadow, and a new Evil is born. It’s up to the Forces of Good to rally together and stop the world from being destroyed or forever drowned in Evil. Typical fantasy stuff, really, but the gameplay more than makes up for the clichés.
Rather than command individual units, as in many RTS titles, Kohan takes a squad-based approach. Each squad must consist of a Leader unit or Kohan (unique leader) and a set of 4 frontline units. Additionally, each squad can also be given a set of flanking units and support units. For example, a typical human assault squad might be the chosen Kohan, 4 swordsmen flanked by pikemen (to keep those pesky cavalry at bay), and a healer and a wizard. Since there are almost 2 dozen different units for each Race, there are many ways to mix and match squads to meet particular tastes or needs. For those who don’t enjoy micromanaging or babysitting each individual unit, Kohan 2 is a blessing. Each individual unit in a squad works together in the proper way, without direct intervention on the player’s part. So the swordsmen and pikemen would take the front, while wizard would hang back and blast away from relative safety and the healer would keep everyone patched up. Set up archers in the flanking position instead, and they’ll hang back behind the front lines to rain down pointy death. Squads can be grouped together and commanded to act in unison, so relatively large armies can be easily directed around the field of battle.
City building and resource management is a little more involved than in the original title. Cities are quite a bit more detailed on the map itself, and it’s possible to keep armies safely inside the city walls. Each city much be constructed on a settlement point, much like Age of Wonders. Limiting the number of settlement points on a given map adds some interesting strategies. In addition to settlement points, there are several resource points on the map just ready to be mined by an Engineer company. Resources are in infinite supply, as resource points never really run out. Increasing the rate resources (including gold) are gathered requires mining additional resource points or constructing resource-gathering building in the cities. Each building requires a certain amount of gold to produce, as does each squad. In addition, most squads also have a certain upkeep requirement, and fielding them causes a drain on resources. If there is a shortfall in a particular resource, it is automatically converted from the gold coffers at a rather alarming rate. And running out of gold can be a very bad thing. In addition to being unable to purchase anything useful, Supply slows to a crawl.
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