Have you ever played one of those games that has you thinking about it even when you’re not playing it? You know, it’s the kind of game where you’re already planning your next move after you quit to menu, brush your teeth and go to sleep. The most recent game that has me doing this is the latest entry in the Sky Gamblers series, Cold War. While I was at work I would think about flying my Black-Bird to spy on the commies in the single-player campaign, or daydream about battling in heated dogfights against other real-world players in the amazing multiplayer. Yeah, Sky Gamblers: Cold War is the kind of game that leaves an impression.
Sky Gamblers: Cold War takes place, you guessed it, during that magical period of time from the late forties to early nineties when stockpiling nuclear weapons was almost a new kind of sport, almost every other word from a world leader was some kind of threat or warning, and everyone was spying on everyone and doing whatever they could to undermine one another’s power.
The single player campaign has you flying all sorts of missions to fight against the ever growing and omnipresent threat of big bad communism from taking over the world. You’ll fly missions like the aforementioned BlackBird spying mission which has you taking snapshots of suspected enemy installations, escort missions where you have to protect certain targets while they get rescued, or just the good old dogfight mission where you’re chief goal is to survive. Cold War will even take you out of the pilots seat sometimes and have you act as a gunner. It does a really nice job of mixing things up for the singleplayer campaign and has a really engaging, if slightly cliched, story to help move things along. Completing missions and goals in the campaign also unlocks new planes for you to fly in the multiplayer, so there’s even more incentive to play through it.
If I had any complaints about the single player campaign, it’s that some of the missions seem a little too long, completing some objectives can seem a little too ambiguous, and Cold War has a very annoying tendency of falling into Call of Duty syndrome. In other words, the campaign has far, far too many cutscenes for it’s own good. It seems like you can’t go ten seconds without some video breaking in. This gets especially annoying when the cutscenes pop up in the middle of a battle. Imagine that you’re in the middle of an incredibly intense, white-knuckled aerial fight. Your jet is badly damaged and you’re using all of your wits just to avoid getting knocked out of the sky. An enemy gets a missile-lock on you, your screen starts to flash and alarms are going off, the missile is getting closer and closer and just as the missile is about to hit you and you start to reach your finger out to hit the button for your flares…cutscene. If there’s one thing I really dislike in modern games, it’s scripted events shoehorned into the action. Cold War does this numerous times, and it’s truly obnoxious.
On the other hand,though, the multiplayer here is absolutely, positively an amazing blast to play. There are so many options with so many types of matches to play through, that you’ll have a hard time getting bored. There’s capture the flag missions, a flying version of king of the hill, deathmatches, team survival missions, and on and on. I never had any trouble finding people to play against, I never once experienced any lag, and boy oh boy they are just so much fun. There are also single-player versions of all of the multiplayer options, so if you sometimes just feel like sharpening up your skills on your own, you have those as options as well.
Cold War has a wealth of options for you to choose from as far as controls go. I chose the “casual” controls for myself as I’m just more comfortable with those, but they all seem to work fairly well. My only problem with the casual controls is that it sometimes seemed like the buttons weren’t always registering my taps, and it would be nice if there were some way to customize the controls to make them work a bit better. I even didn’t mind the tilt controls, which I tend not to like. They were responsive and controlled well, and I had no problem using them.
Cold War also looks and sounds amazing. Flares, missiles and bullets explode all around you in gorgeous detail. When your plane takes damage, debris will fly off, pieces of your plane will flap in the wind as they hang on for dear life, and bullet holes will adorn your exterior as you get hit. There are also multiple camera views you can use while playing, and they all look great. The cockpit view is especially thrilling to play in, although I found it too distracting so I primarily just stuck with the 3rd person perspective. Atypical games really did a bang up job of putting you as close to the action as they possibly could.
Sky Gamblers: Cold War continues the Sky Gamblers tradition of being awesome. The graphics and sound effects are spectacular, the multiplayer is a ridiculous amount of fun to play, and while I had some issues with the single player, I still had a whole lot of fun with it. If you’ve never played the series before but like action games, then I highly recommend this. And if you’re already a fan of the series, then odds are you’re already online. It’s addicting to the point where yeah, you may end up thinking about playing it while you’re supposed to be concentrating on your TPS report at work.