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Cold War Review

Cold War Box art
Developer:Mindware
Publisher:DreamCatcher
Genre:Stealth/Action
Platform:PC
Official Site:http://www.coldwar-game.com/
Release Date:October 21st (UK)
Reviewer:Ryan Sayce (Stan)
Buy now at Amazon.co.uk

Cold War might be best described as Splinter Cell meets MacGyver in the 1980's Soviet Union, you play Matt Carter an American journalist who has been set up and thrown right into the middle of a conspiracy that could result in nuclear war. An interesting back drop for a stealthy spy game like this perhaps. Of course you quickly end up in a KGB cell and are stripped of all your items and weapons. You'll have to make use of what you make or take from dead enemy soldiers.

Graphics

Having been released for both the Xbox and PC, Cold War never really excels in the graphics department, it's being held back by the now ancient console. The only graphics options you can change are the resolution, brightness and gamma, while this mean you can't really tweak the graphics to your system, there isn’t much need to as the game runs at a very respectable FPS. Being as this is a stealth game you would assume that it has some stunning lighting and shadow effects, unfortunately it doesn’t, with massive overuse of bloom, this is not to say this is a ugly game it just doesn’t look a patch on the latest Splinter Cell games. There are some impressive looking levels including one in Chernobyl, really stunning stuff considering the lack of power behind the console version.

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The player animations are sadly quite poor; when you have your pistol out it’s as though your character glides along the floor, when you are crouching it looks as though Matt Carter has a thermo nuclear device lodged somewhere it shouldn’t be. We also seem to be lacking a physics engine of any modern description, enemy soldiers don't even fall convincingly when shot.

Sound

The sound in Cold War is decent without ever really excelling, the guns all sound suitably realistic and the characters are not overly cheesy considering they have to deal with the hard Russian accent. The music is acceptable coming in when needed and creating the appropriate response from the player without overpowering what is going on.

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Gameplay

Cold War has the first X-ray camera in a game as far as I am aware, it also has the bonus of being able to nock out people for a short time, however with this novel feature comes a problem; in most games it doesn’t matter if there is nothing behind the locked doors but if you then give the player a X-ray camera you should assume that they are going to look behind those doors. If they find nothing there it’s just another thing that takes you out of the game. The camera can be used to not only nock out guards but to explode various objects like fire extinguishers, however the most useful function is to scout ahead for enemy soldiers and to plan your routes accordingly.

You can also collect various everyday items and combine them to make more MacGyver style weapons and items including bombs and probably the best use of a plastic bottle I have ever seen. This is a really nice idea and works quite well, it also gives you a reason to look around the levels to collect the blueprints so that you can make new and interesting gadgets, for example a catapult that fires tranquilisers.

The enemy A.I. is quite often erratic; you can be sat in a dark corner and for no reason a guard across the map will start shooting at you. On other occasions you may have two guards stood so close to each other that they could even be holding hands then as you run up to the first guard to nock him out you hear him say "what’s that sound" but he does not turn around to check it out. You hit him over the back of the head and he falls to the ground moaning, but a few footsteps away the other guard has failed to see or hear his partner being knocked out, you can therefore easily dispatch him in a similar manner.

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Cold War boasts of many ways to complete objectives and while this is partly true, there is really only one way to do objectives and that’s the stealthy way. You have the trusty pistol and later on in the game an AK47, sadly however the action is not done well with the recoil of the AK making it very hard to control even for a Counter-Strike veteran like myself, plus the fact that your character can only take a few shots before he dies means lots and lots of quick saves and loads if you are planning to do a level via the action route. Stick to stealth if you ask me.

The controls seem fluid and natural with the mouse wheel adjusting the speed of which your character moves and the second mouse button for interacting with people and objects. Sadly instead of climbing things like ladders yourself it triggers a mini non interactive scene of your character climbing the ladder or sliding down the pole, this is just another thing that manages to bring you out of the game, these were things we seen in games on the playstation years ago not in 2005, it just smacks of a dumbed down console game with a rushed PC port.

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Summary

Despite it's flaws there are some enjoyable moments in Cold War it's just a pity it feels rushed. I think with more time and maybe a bit more creativity the next game in the Cold War series (if there is one) could be a very good game. I suppose the acid test is whether I would advise you to go out and part with your hard earned cash, it’s a hard question as there are certainly better games out there for you stealth fans. However if you are a massive stealth fan and you can put up with a few flaws and the fact you can't shoot out any of the lights, which is in my eyes a unforgivable error in a stealth game, then I would suggest you shop around a bit, I have seen Cold War for less than twenty pounds online which is a good price for the time it takes you to complete this game.


Good stuff

  • Some nice looking Levels
  • Nice use of items
  • Decent Graphics
  • Not expensive

Not so good stuff

  • Poor A.I.
  • Non interactive environments
  • Poor action
  • Cheesy voice acting
  • Nothing new
  • Doesn’t feel finished


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