The year is 1984, and tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union have resulted in open war in Europe. In a battle of wits and skill, the West faces off against the East in this Cold War era submarine combat simulator.
Cold Waters is Killerfish Games’ modernisation of the 1988 Microprose classic, Red Storm Rising. As a player you will take command of a US Navy submarine based in the United Kingdom. From here you will be assigned missions by the admiralty in order to wrestle control of the surrounding seas from the Soviet menace. These missions can range from the intercepting of enemy resupply ships, hunting soviet submarines, inserting friendly commandos and launching missile attacks against enemy ports. Your success or failure in completing these missions directly affects the dynamic campaign and as a result the outcome of the war. For example, failure to complete missions can lead to the Soviets gaining ground and taking control of previously friendly territories. As the campaign progresses you are kept up-to-date with recent developments through the use of news bulletins which give an idea as to how the tides of war are matched.
Combat is unforgiving and you must use all of your experience of submarine warfare to come out on top. As a new player you will quickly learn that stealth is your friend, and barrelling toward an enemy ship at full speed is not a sound tactic. For those familiar with the reality of submersed warfare, Cold Waters covers a huge array of features including cavitation, sonar, towed arrays, forming knuckles, surface ducts, thermal layers and more. For the unfamiliar, all you need to know is that the combat is heavily detailed and goes to significant depth.
A typical encounter of an enemy vessel will involve you building your target solution to an acceptable degree so that you are confident if you fired a torpedo, it would hit its mark. Your target solution is essentially the location of the enemy ship on the battle map. However, your target solution is not always 100% correct. This is because it is generated based off information gained through a variety of means, but most commonly your sonar operators. Sonar operators listen for sound made by nearby enemy vessels and use this to estimate the direction, range and depth to your target.
There are however alternative avenues of attack for the cunning submarine captain. For example, you can utilise your periscope to spot enemy surface ships and therefore provide an accurate target location. This is not without its risks however as enemy ships, planes or helicopters can still spot your periscope which would immediately give away your location. This allows for a wide variety of strategies for any given mission. For example, do I risk going to periscope depth in order to gain accurate information of the enemy vessel quickly, or do I bide my time at a much deeper depth which is inherently much safer and means I am less likely to be detected by the enemy vessel?
Damage is modelled accurately and based on the area of your submarine which is hit, system modules such as pumps or propulsion can be disabled. As with any sea warfare flooding is a real threat and without effective use of pumps you will quickly find your submarine taking on water. Ignore this for long enough and you will find yourself sinking deeper and deeper as your hull groans from the increased pressure. Should you be unable to repair your pumps in time you will quickly find yourself on a one way trip to Davy Jones’ locker.
Overall, should you pick up Cold Waters and find yourself in control of a US Navy submarine, you will quickly find that you have a lot to learn in regards to submersed warfare. You will make mistakes, and many of these mistakes will lead to the loss of your submarine and all hands on board. But with each mistake you will adjust your tactics and play style until eventually you find yourself with a reputation that hunter-killer submarines have become accustomed to. That of a patient and calculated killer, who all of those at sea shall come to fear.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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