Players: 1 Platforms: Xbox, PC ESRB Rating: Teen (Language, Tobacco Reference, Violence) Cold War is a third-person stealth action game in which the player controls American journalist Matthew Carter. After receiving an anonymous tip, Carter sneaks into a Russian embassy to get a scoop on some top-secret international affairs between the Presidents of North America and Russia. When he arrives at the scene, however, Carter finds his camera has been swapped with some sort of high-tech weapon. Framed for treason, Matthew Carter must escape for his life, and at the same time uncover a conspiracy of global proportions.
Carter doesn’t have any special weapons or training, so he must rely on his brain and use whatever commodities he can get his hands on. Making use of common items, Carter can make his own weapons, upgrades, and trap devices. These can range from gun silencers to explosives. Supplies are limited, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the inventory and decide what will be most useful. For instance, should you use your last plastic bottle on a gun silencer or a grenade? Finding blueprints will award the player with Tech Points, which can be used to open new possibilities for item construction. I found this whole aspect of the game to be very fun and rewarding. Although Cold War is a pretty formulaic point A-to-point B adventure, I was never bored once I got into the flow of the game. Sneaking up behind unsuspecting enemies and knocking them out hardly gets old, but when it does you can always get creative with your methods. If you can’t get close to an enemy, you might want to snap your fingers and lure him over to an ether mine, or use your slingshot to knock him out with a tranquilizer dart. When things get heated, though, it’s time to whip out the pistol or AK-47 you stole from the guards. There are many interesting weapons and gadgets in Cold War, but the most original is the camera. Looking through the camera lens will provide you with x-ray vision. Need to see who’s inside a room before entering? No problem. Everybody’s skeletons will show up brightly through the camera. In fact, you can even clear a room before entering. Just aim the camera towards your victim and he will be knocked unconscious in a flash.
Cold War isn’t a visually impressive game. That being said, it’s average at best. Textures are rather blurry, and the lighting doesn’t come close to the brilliance we’ve seen in even the original Splinter Cell that was released years prior to this game. Perhaps the worst aspect of the game’s visuals is the cut-scenes after each level, in which semi-animated images are shown on the screen with overly dramatic lighting and shadows. They have kind of a cell-shaded look, but they hardly serve as eye candy.
The story of Cold War is surprisingly good, and it’s told through character interaction. Every character in the game has a voice, and plenty of lines to say. The acting is often weak, but the solid script makes up for it. Unfortunately, every minor (disposable) character you come across will share a common voice with all the others of their type, and they can be annoying. The things they say, however, do affect the game play. For instance, you may hear one guard say, “I need a cigarette.” This is your cue to drop a pack on the floor as a distraction. Music plays an important role in this game as well. Strings provide an ambience of intensity that will keep you on your toes. If you are spotted, or an enemy suspects you, the music will change appropriately to let you know if it’s time to hide or draw out your guns.
While I experienced no major glitches, I ran into a number of annoyances. On several occasions when being spotted by enemies, the game would freeze for a second and then skip ahead of the elapsed time. Unfortunately, I would usually find myself dead immediately afterward. Luckily, the game lets you save your exact progress anywhere and anytime you want, with as many backup files as you’d like.
The violence you’ll be acting out in Cold War is purely a matter of self-defense. Killing civilians = game over. I don’t remember seeing any blood, except maybe a small red puff in the air when my character was hit by a bullet. There are many non-lethal ways to incapacitate enemies, but there comes a time when killing seems the only possible way. In a disturbing radio transmission, we hear a person’s last words while burning alive. PG-13 language is used quite a bit by some of the leading characters in the cinematics. I believe the Lord’s name was taken in vein once or twice as well.
I didn’t expect much from Cold War, but it surprised me with some innovative ideas and a compelling story. You might like this game if you\'re a fan of games such as Splinter Cell. Just take heed of the coarse language and thematic violence.