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Cold War

Score: 73%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: DreamCatcher Interactive
Developer: Mindware Studios
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Shooter/ Action/ Stealth

Graphics & Sound:

Graphically, Cold War retains a decent quality, but it’s nothing near what other spy games like Splinter Cell offer on the Xbox. The immersion factor of DreamCatcher’s espionage shooter is pretty good visually, but some of the textures and other elements of the environment just don’t live up to the Xbox’s standards. The mix of realistic in-game visuals combined with the comic book style of cut-scenes is also confusing. Taking this choice just seems to take you out of the immersive potential of Cold War, which is a huge drawback to any interactive game.

As far as the audio goes, you’ll here everything from the clicks and pops of reloading and shooting your weapons, to the enemies making comments as they hear you sneaking (not so quietly) around their bases. The voiceovers are okay, but in general (and combined with the long stories in the cut-scenes) are very boring to sit through. In addition, the in-game voice work just doesn’t leave you with a very realistic feel, especially with the unmotivated animations.


Gameplay:

DreamCatcher’s Cold War take you behind the iron curtain of the land of Russia, and takes you into the action in a mix of story and gameplay that are supposed to complement each other. Unfortunately, the story's cut-scenes are not interesting at all, and you could easily find yourself letting the scene play while you take a break from the action by hitting the bathroom or calling your mom for that long-overdue chat. Add to that fact that the cut-scenes are comic-book style, and you realize that it actually takes you completely out of the action because of the combination of the cartoony style and long length between actual gaming sessions.

The actual gameplay of Cold War falls short of the mark as well. There are some great and interesting ideas involved with creating different devices (MacGyver-style) using parts you find around each level, but you can just as easily burn through some levels without all that much stealth anyway. To create these objects, you’ll first have to find different items like blueprints or briefcases that give you "tech points" which are used to create innovative devices to help you in your journey. There are multiple levels of creation for these devices as well, and after unlocking at least 3 in each level, you can continue to the next. An example is to create an alarm clock in order to lure guards away from their posts, or to create rubber bullets in an effort to stun them instead of killing them.

Cold War takes you behind enemy lines in an effort to use stealth as your ultimate asset. Unfortunately, running and gunning can easily become the norm if you choose. But, if you play as the developer intended, the game can have some potential. However, the enemy AI is often laughable at best due to simple things like not checking out all noises or not seeing you when you are in plain sight across the room.


Difficulty:

Since the enemies apparently have absolutely no peripheral vision of any kind, you can "sneak up" on an enemy directly from his side. When you make a slight noise, the most you get is a guard asking "what was that?" or something similar, but they don’t really go to check it out like they would in a game like Metal Gear Solid. I did find myself re-loading quite a bit, however, so there is a bit of a challenge (again, if trying to play stealthy missions). But, after making a mistake once, it is rare that the same mistake will be made again.

Game Mechanics:

Cold War’s controls are set up pretty well as far as button-presses go. The game will essentially pause as you create new items or switch your weapons, so there isn’t a rush in the heat of battle, which is a good thing. However, my main complaint comes with the camera. The camera does have an option to invert the look in the Y-direction (up/down), but lacks the same for the side-to-side motion. I had an extremely hard time smoothly going around corners due to the (in my opinion) backward camera movement. It just didn’t feel natural, although some will probably think it is perfect.

In the event that you want to play a great action-stealth game, pick up Splinter Cell. If you are on a budget, then you may want to check out Cold War. Cold War is a decent game overall, but it lacks the finesse that other titles in the genre have. The cut-scenes and story are lacking and, for the most part, very forgettable.


-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

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