Kohan II

Review

posted 10/25/2004 by Tyler Sager
other articles by Tyler Sager
One Page Platforms: PC
The concept of Supply is one of the high points of the Kohan series. Each city and outpost has a “Zone of Supply”. While in this Zone, squads will be healed automatically, even going so far as to replace fallen units. As long as just a single member of a squad can limp back into a Zone of Supply, the entire squad can be fully healed/reinforced in short order. With careful watch over the squads, breaking them away from the battles if they’re getting too clobbered, they may never need to be replaced for the length of the mission.

There are six different races to choose from, each embodying a familiar fantasy niche. There are the usual Humans, generalists and jacks-of-all-trades. Rounding out the “good guys”, there are the fast-but-fragile Haroun, the barbarian Drauga, and the requisite dwarf-like Gauri. Fighting for Team Evil are the Undead, slow and plodding but always considered In Supply, and the unearthly Shadow. While each race has a similar mix of melee, ranged, and siege units, they are different enough that players will soon find one that well suits their style of play. In addition to race, each player can also choose from five Factions, reflecting the ideological allegiance. Each Faction confers a certain bonus and additional unit, further increasing the options available for play.

Kohan 2 has a unique feel to the gameplay. Things aren’t as frantically paced as many RTS outings, since everything is commanded at the squad level. Battles are a matter of setting up the proper mixture of squads and sending them after the enemy, and letting the individual squads take care of business on their own. Once battle starts, there’s very little control over even the squads themselves, other than sounding the retreat. Because of this, Kohan 2 feels like a much more “thoughtful” RTS than many of the other titles available, something that very much appeals to my style of play. Much of the game is fought in the planning stages of combat, and victory is often decided before the armies ever meet.

The single-player campaign included in Kings of War is quite good, offering the chance to get to know most of the races involved, although it is a little light on Shadow or Fallen missions. Almost all of the missions are of the “build up and destroy X” variety, so no puzzle maps or RPG elements here. The story behind the campaign is typical fantasy fare but good enough to tie everything together. For those who want to jump right in to the fight, there is a fairly competent AI for single-player skirmishes, and a decent multiplayer experience as well. Unlike the original, players won’t be finding random Kohan units as they wander around the map, so there won’t be the problem of your enemy finding the best Kohan in the game in a stroke of good luck.

Kohan 2 looks and sounds great, although the computing requirements rather harshly reflect this. For those with an aging system, it would be good to check a demo and look closely at the minimum specs before taking this plunge. Still, I was running at close to minimum myself, and didn’t have too many problems with slowdowns or chugginess. The interface is clean and intuitive, so it won’t take long for anyone familiar with the genre to jump right in.

The Kohan series is a unique take on fantasy RTS, and Kohan 2 does an admirable job of reliving the high quality and enjoyment of the original. A bit more thoughtful than many RTS games, Kohan 2 is perfect for those wanting a deeper real time strategy. With yet another rush of RTS games being released, don’t overlook this gem.


B+
A worthy successor to the great-but-overlooked original. An RTS title that leans a bit more toward “strategy” and a bit less toward “real-time”.


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