A game reviewer for several years, Tobias reviews games from any decade. They tend to ramble about game design and old media.
Set directly after the events of Black Ops and before Black Ops II, you play as Bell, an ex-military operative. Being brought on to the mysterious Black Op group tasked with investigating Operation Greenlight and bringing Perseus (the mysterious man behind the curtain) down.
During your mission to bring down Perseus you will switch between Bell and Mason (from the first game) during various off-the-book ops to learn more about Perseus. You will be taken all over the world. Russia, South America, Vietnam. The story is very different compared to other titles in the catalog of CoD games, but it is one of the strongest.
Cold War was designed around the Ray Tracing feature and it shows. Where usually in Call of Duty you would see extremely dark or overcast areas. The areas in Cold War are extremely bright, or when they have to be extremely dark, they have a powerful use of light.
Light rays will wash across your character model and other details in the game, muzzle flashes create bursts of light in dark rooms or open areas. Small details like light bleed, and seeing the reflections of the environment in puddles truly makes the game feel next-gen.
The texture work is really done too. I would say it is one of the best looking games in terms of people looking like people. Adler's scarred face is quite detailed, more than you were expecting it to be, really. Guns also get this treatment, where small details that don't matter to the use of the weapon are left in because the game can use those resources to further make the immersion deeper.
Unfortunately, there are a few problems in the game in terms of performance, and it definitely falls under the graphics. I never had an issue with the game in campaign or multiplayer. Ray tracing works perfectly fine and looks great too. But in zombies, I ran into quite a few issues with shadow pop-in that was so bad it would drop the mode down into a miserable stutter. However, turning off ray tracing fixed the issue and I feel confident this could probably be fixed with just some optimization.
In short, besides a few next-gen hiccups, the game looks great as a launch title and I am excited to see how the series will keep pushing this new standard.
Some time ago in my review for Modern Warfare, I wrote that I didn't know how they could improve the sound. The game had captured that gritty heavy feeling and made guns and other things feel beefy and have substance.
Modern Warfare's sound would be like a Chinese buffet, everything is there and it is all quite good. But you know there are some things nobody is going to actually eat, so it is made and left to the side. The value of the buffet is KNOWING it is there, but not necessarily putting it on your plate. Modern Warfare focused on what they knew people would want to eat, and it paid off.
Cold War, however, is like a really good steak. You can depend on a steak. It doesn't sell itself more than what it is, and it also probably costs a little too much at a restaurant, but it is worth it when cooked to perfection. That is what we get with this game. Sound that has been perfected with this release.
When playing it through my speakers, it felt amazing. Voices were never overpowered by music or sound effects, you could hear everything perfectly fine. The guns didn't feel dramatic in their boom, but felt beefy where they needed to. For example, an MP5 is going to have a much smaller punch than the deafening roar of a shotgun.
The sounds of reloading, the actions of the firearms sounding off as they were shot all felt like what you would hear in a top tier war movie.
Moving aside from that, however, the voice work is top-notch and fans of The Office will hear a familiar voice if they focus enough. The cast feels handpicked for their roles and Reagan's voice (obviously compared to what I learned in school) felt spot on.
This is not a point to be deducted from the game, as it is a personal opinion. But I was disappointed not to hear the original narrator in the zombie mode when you pick up power-ups and things. That isn't a deduction though, games change and such.
To save your time I will sum up a huge chunk of gameplay. It is Call of Duty, it plays like Call of duty, and that is fine, that is how it SHOULD feel.
But that doesn't mean they haven't improved the formula. Instead of your standard do the mission, continue to the next mission, they added a safe house instead. In the safe house, you are able to talk to your team, learn more lore about the universe, and plot your next mission. The missions will include intel that you can collect to make the side missions in the game easier to accomplish as well.
There are a few hidden things you can do in the campaign, but I would rather leave that to you to find them, as it's more fun that way.
Zombies has changed a bit too. With some powerups being reworked, and the overall structure of the mode feeling different. One of the bigger things I initially noticed is you automatically get a quick revive. When you go down however you lose a power-up. So it is more of a trade or a penalty than when you could purchase the powerup and use it as a crutch.
The difficulty modes seem to have been increased as well. But the ability to access the good stuff in the mode is easier, so it was definitely a work of balance. You can also earn rewards by escaping. When you get to a specific round the game will offer if you wish to escape and evac. You do not need to evac and will be offered later, but if you do it throws everything at you to stop you.
It works in a way that you could actually say you finished Zombies, instead of playing until you die.
So I said that the game is like the others in terms of gameplay, but they did smooth some rough edges that shooters have been having for a long time. It just feels smoother to play, but that could also be a personal opinion, so before you take this comment to heart. Controls are hard to explain, since everyone likes them a certain way.
(Small note: I had some performance issues on multiplayer, but it was mostly errors connecting or errors with host. I would attribute this to launch less the game itself. I also think the few frame rate issues I had in online was due to network issues as well, so sadly, the netcode does need some work.)
The great thing about Call of Duty is that if you have played one, you have played them all. You should have no problem getting into this one if you have played any of the games in the last few entries before.
Cold War is definitely in line with the other games in the franchise. Short and sweet on the campaign side of the game, but the multiplayer and Zombies modes have plenty of hours to offer and will keep you busy for quite a long time.
When Modern Warfare was released, I said it needed to keep going in that direction if they wanted to series to survive. They didn't just survive with this entry, they dominated. Cold War has a few problems sure. But none of them should stop you from playing one of the best entries the series has ever seen.
However, if you are one to buy the games just for the Zombies mode, be aware that it needs a little bit of optimization if you are going to use ray tracing. Otherwise, it does feel fine.
This game would have been a 5-star review if it hadn't had the performance issues. Seriously, give the game a chance.
One of the best stories to date
Online and zombies needs some performance tweaks
Great sound design
Needs some focus on lessening camping
Visuals great for the first attempt at next gen
Raytracing needs some ironing out (minor issue though)