Cold War Review

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After playing through a couple adventure games I was looking for something different and jumped at the chance to review Cold War by Mindware. While others might compare the game to the popular Splinter Cell series I personally think it's much more along the lines of a cross between Hitman and Max Payne . Wile you're supposed to keep a low profile and stay in the shadows, you'll most likely find yourself running around carelessly mid-way through the game.

As usual, let's begin with the background story. You are Matt Carter, an American freelance journalist who is seeking to break a big story on a tip received about a secret meeting between the U.S.S.R.'s President and a CIA agent. The year is 1986 and the US and Soviet Union are working towards creating a friendly relationship with one another. Little does the President know Barinsky--top man at the KGB--is up to no good: not only does he want to go back to the previous hostile relationship between the two superpowers, but he is going to frame you in the process by declaring you a CIA assassin.

Cold War is a third-person stealth shooter game. It starts off very slow paced and it is at this point where you could compare it to Splinter Cell. The environments are dark and dreary however, the shadows aren't as dark as they are in Splinter Cell. You can hide about ten feet in front of a soldier without him noticing you, when in real life they would. The storyline is presented in a comic book style which is why it reminded me of Max Payne. There are also similar game modes you can play through after you're done with the story mode (which is recommended first).

Even though I absolutely detested the good conscious viewpoint in Cold Fear, where the viewpoint when using your weapons is over the right shoulder, it's not so bad in Cold War. The view is much less angled and there is a crosshair for every weapon. You do still have to expose your body when going around a corner to your left--but because this is mostly a stealth game (I'll explain later)--you aren't immediately shot it most cases. The viewpoint without a weapon seems very comfortable as you can move all the way around the character.

Focusing on the stealth aspect, Mindware included a stealth meter in the GUI. The mouse wheel controls how fast you move where all the way down is very slow, to avoid any attention, and all the way up is a slow jog. The stealth meter goes up when you are in the light which is what you want to avoid. If you jog or sprint down a hallway with a guard in a room on the other side of the wall they will get suspicious.

The enemy alert meter is safe at green, startled at yellow, and you'll want to get the heck out of there at red. Most of the time the yellow alert can be easily brought back down to green by just stopping or slowing your movements down. If you make a little too much noise or step into a bright area a guard may come over to get a better look. This is when it is time to be careful, or of course you could just shoot them. There are silencers and other ways of silently bringing down guards and civilians. The alert meter reaches red if a guard spots you, which is pretty easy to avoid, or if you happened to bump into them. Get back and clear out if possible at a red alert; guards/soldiers will be trying to gun you down from different points.

Weapons and inventory: You don't receive much variety in terms of actual guns. It's really just a pistol and an AK-47. According to the dialog, Matt Carter doesn't want to kill anyone. So, I automatically tried to be all stealthy by using rubber bullets, doping people (you find bottles of ether along the way), and knocking people out from behind. The fun part is, if you stick around in the area where you bring someone down with one of these methods they'll get right back up again and start shooting. Screw that! As far as my Matt Carter goes, I'm using live ammunition unless the objective tells me otherwise. Trust me, you'll feel the same way after you hit someone with a paralyzing dart and they get back up to gun you down in a rather short period of time. I expected those to last longer.

"As far as my Matt Carter goes, I'm using live ammunition unless the objective tells me otherwise."

One minor note, you can't go gun crazy as killing civilians in the game will automatically result in failing the mission. They make such a hassle you wish you could just silence them for good, just drug them and hope they don't get back up for a while.

You have a gadget construction menu where you can make all sorts of different things from tracing bugs, to silencers, to ether mines. I liked the variety of gadgets and things but didn't end up using a lot of them. You collect blueprint points along the way by picking up items such as briefcases, folders, tubes, and searching bodies. Each of the gadgets requires a certain number of blueprint points to construct. After construction, you have to have specific numbers of materials to use them. The reason I didn't use a lot of the different gadgets is that I didn't seem to have enough of a required material. I definitely tried out a few things to get a feel for the gadgets; it just seemed like a hassle to construct and then have the right materials to use them. I would have loved to have seen at least one longer range gun even a scoped dart rifle would have been nice. The most interesting tool you have in your possession is an X-Ray camera. No, not for looking at Sonya, for looking through walls and as a weapon.

"The most interesting tool you have in your possession is an X-Ray camera. No, not for looking at Sonya..."

Now it's time to let some things out. Even though the control scheme is similar to Splinter Cell, the game feels a lot like a Hitman game. The graphics and sometimes the sound also reminded me of the Hitman games, which was comforting but did it measure up? You can pick up and drop bodies but there really didn't seem to be much of a point to it, at least in the normal difficulty mode. I would kill two guards, make some noise, and another soldier would come in but it didn't seem that even though he was standing over two dead guards it made much of a difference at all. Because of this drawback I just decided to hide the bodies for fun, pretending like it was a vital task required throughout the missions. Another thing, if a civilian was running around and making a fool of himself you could run up behind him and hit the action button to knock them out. They just stop running as soon as you hit the button and receive the blow. I'm sorry; it just seemed dumb and took a lot of the stealth out of the game. Overall, it also seemed very repetitive.

Everything looks nice in Cold War. It's nothing revolutionary by any means but it gets the job done. Character models are pretty good, and you don't really see much of the weapon/gadget models but from what you can see they look fine. There were some animations that looked a little strange. For example, the way the body moves when you sprint looks awkward and there are other things as well. The lighting in the maps certainly pulls things together, if only there was more variety in the maps themselves.

"Everything looks nice in Cold War."

The music in the game seemed good. From the first menu before you start you feel like you could be getting into a good and original action game, unfortunately this isn't quite the case. The music definitely makes things more intense: when you cause your alert meter to go up a notch or step into a detection laser the faster paced music kicks in letting you know that you're in trouble. All of the other sounds in the game also seemed fine whether it be gunfire, raindrops, a whistling guard, or a panicked civilian worker.

The voice acting was mediocre. I don't necessarily blame the actors themselves but rather the people that wrote the scripts. Some of the lines were very corny causing me to roll my eyes and let out an ugh at times. My big complaint in this area is the volume during the comic book style storyline. You first adjust your speakers during the cut-scene so that the voices sound normal but then once the real game starts up you can barely hear anything. So you turn your speaker volume up and then, when another cut-scene comes along the voices seem rather loud.

The replay value is where Cold War suffers the biggest blow. It's one of those games where you'll find yourself thinking hey, this room sure looks awfully familiar. That's because it's the same room you were in just a little while back. You end up going back and forth and back and forth through two large maps. The lack of variety makes the game uninteresting and my desire to continue playing the game also suffered greatly. It starts off fine, and sure has some great potential but it doesn't have anything that really makes it stand out as anything more than an average game. Rooms look the same, and there isn't much interaction with the surroundings besides sliding down some wires twice and the ability to hide in some places. I actually think I ran into a bug while playing and wasn't able to go any further. The normal difficulty setting is not very challenging. I ended up not worrying much about stealth towards the end and just taking enemies out as they came. You can die quickly but if you stay behind something it's easy to outsmart the A.I. and take slow, accurate shots.

"The replay value is where Cold War suffers the biggest blow."

In conclusion, I found Cold War to be an average game that had potential but was lacking in several areas. The storyline didn't seem very believable at all but even if you look past that, there isn't a lot to hold the gamers' interest. Don't get me wrong, it's not terrible, just a little above average. If the A.I. was enhanced, story broadened, and more maps added while taking time away from the only two maps, it would have been much better.

Highs:

Good Graphics

Sound and music is good too

Lows:

Repetitive

Knocking people out when running?

Not much environment interaction

Story is somewhat lacking

Gameplay what to do with the bodies?

Strange Animations


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