The videogame industry's obsession with WWII is beginning to get me because I'm tired of repeatedly fighting in the same battles. It's not that I dislike shooting Nazis (on the contrary), but there are other historical conflicts to highlight, particularly the Cold War. The U.S. and Mother Russia never came to actual physical blows, but there was a ton of stuff happening behind the scenes, which just so happens to be the primary focus of Dreamcatcher and developer Mindware's upcoming third person action adventure title Cold War, an exciting game full of secret weapons, classified documents, espionage, and intrigue.
Journalism is often times a shady business, and freelancer Matt Carter is sneaky indeed. He's just crossed the border into Russia where he's hoping to get into a little trouble just for the sake of landing a big story. However, what he finds is definitely more than he bargained for. While exploring Lenin's tomb he's captured and accused of being a hired assassin not only because he was caught snooping but also because of the secret weapon he's holding, a powerful x-ray camera that's capable of a little more than just taking pictures. Furiously beaten, he's thrown into a holding cell seriously bruised and bloody, but as Carter's captors decide whether he should be executed or sent to a Siberian prison camp, Matt decides he doesn't want to find out what his fate will be. Instead, and using some cool MacGyver-esque techniques, he's able to break out of his cell. Now all you have to do is figure out how to get his butt back home.
I unfortunately haven't been able to play Cold War post capture but I have gone through the events leading up to Matt's arrest. He arrives at Lenin's tomb at night and during a nasty storm. The goal is to get him inside of the sacred building, and that's of course not an easy feat. Since this game is mostly stealth based, Matt isn't armed with fully automatic rifles and sticky grenades. In fact, when the game begins all he's got to defend himself are his fists, and trust me when I say that his right and left aren't made of steel.
The game begins with a very brief tutorial on how to make it through the world. You navigate Matt using the WSAD keys and you can manipulate the camera by moving the mouse around. At first he walks, but to speed him up all you need to do is slide the mouse wheel up (to make him jog) and down (to stop him).
After walking through a tiny grave yard I came upon a door and again, the game provides a brief tutorial on how to interact with the environment. Whenever you encounter stuff like doors, bodies, computers, and items, all you need to do is click the right mouse button and Matt will investigate it. In this case, I just clicked the UNLOCK option that appeared on the screen, and after pressing the right mouse button and the door opened, though things did become a little more advanced as I progressed.
I rounded my first corner and walked straight into a guard, who responded by filling Matt's stomach full of lead. That's another thing about this game. A lot of trial and error takes place, so make sure you become best friends with the F5 key, which will perform a quick save.
After dying a few more times I paused to examine my surroundings. There were a set of bushes nearby, so I waited until the guard's back was turned and made a run for it. Once behind the foliage, I hit SHIFT to make him crouch, and just like walking, I cycled through different levels of crouch, so rolling the mouse wheel upwards results in him standing almost vertical, while sliding it down had him almost crawling on the ground.
Even though the guard was no more than seven feet away he didn't notice me walking behind the bushes, which I still think is a bit odd but since this is a videogame I looked past it and forged ahead. There was a break in the bushes, so when he turned away from me I snuck up behind him, clicked the right mouse button and selected the option to knock him out. This always results in Matt slugging him across the back of the head.
With the guard immobilized I quickly pressed the right mouse button and noticed that I had a few more options at my disposal. Not only could I pick up the body (it's best to hide people somewhere so other patrolmen don't see them), but also inject him with a sleepy substance or go through his pockets, the latter being one of the primary ways Matt will collect keys, guns, and ammunition.
Once the body was stashed I continued to make my way around the complex while dispatching more guards. I had a gun on me that was full of live ammunition, but since Cold War isn't actually a war-based game and Matt isn't Rambo I elected to switch to rubber bullets.
[Guns?! Of course all reporters know how to use a gun!]
Guns?! Of course all reporters know how to use a gun!
Whenever Matt is using a gun the game transitions to an over the shoulder Resident Evil 4 perspective that looks natural. It's also quite effective, as I was able to with pinpoint precision target the poor sap's head and put him out. A few knock outs later and I was in possession to the tomb keys and inside of the building.
At this point Cold War goes through another tutorial, this time informing me of how especially talented Matt is with making weapons out of everyday household gadgets. Pressing F2 brings up the Assembly Screen, and it's here where, using blue prints and tool sets gathered about the levels, I was one step closer to creating all sorts of cool stuff including a luring device to attract attention, an Ether Mine (will make everyone except Matt go sleepy bye), a Forget Drug that can be fired from Matt's sling shot (which I wasn't able to use yet), and Paralyze Ammo.
None of this stuff can be used right away. It's merely there as a placeholder, a look into the future, if you will. You'll need to make use of it all after breaking out of the prison, but early on Matt can grab hold of some ether and he'll gain some tech points, which are needed to actually use certain items.
The rest of the level played out like any standard stealth-based game. I snuck around security cameras, conked bad guys on their noggins, fired rubber bullets into their faces, and disabled lasers using a computer terminal. However, things took an unexpected turn after Matt stumbled upon this weird camera. Using it to check out a bunch of bad guys, he realizes that it has x-ray abilities, but that's not its only desired feature. It can also blow things up, and after a test run on a fire extinguisher, the enemies are alerted to Matt's presence. He manages to sneak away, and thus began my relationship with the x-ray camera, which is definitely one of the game's cooler elements.
The camera has full x-ray ability, so once it's engaged (and Cold War becomes a first person shooter whenever it's in use), it enables the user to see through walls as well as skin, so as I walked down a deserted and plain-looking hallway I spied guards, traps, and special items in the next room. I also delivered the big hurt on one guy after taking his picture, though the rubber bullets are just as fun to use. Also, as a side note, you can fire weapons using the left mouse button. However, keep in mind that these are Cold War's default controls, which are fully customizable.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to play for much longer but I enjoyed my time with Cold War. I just like the fact that if I want to be for the most part nonviolent I can elect to sneak about the levels, but when I want to bust some caps (though the game, at least in the beginning, penalizes you for actually killing someone), I can break out my pistol and blast away. It's just a nice mix of different gameplay styles and perspectives and I'm definitely interested in continuing my adventure. Seeing as how the game is slated to be released for PC and Xbox on October 1, 2005, I won't have to wait very long.