Travel back to the 1980's Cold War era and control either the USSR or US forces in their struggle to achieve military superiority. The mod is Cold War Crisis for C&C Generals: Zero Hour. After four years in development does this mod earn a download or will it crash and burn behind enemy lines?
Cold War Crisis successfully captures a realistic European look featuring all original art. While all the units are rendered in a realistic scale, large overhead icons help maintain the readability of different units types. Everything from the small countryside villages to the custom textured landscapes maintain a consistency in art style that establishes CWC's unique look. Even on an aging platform like the 3D SAGE engine, the CWC team has proven you can still captivate the eyes without using the absolute latest in graphical enhancements.
The voice work in this mod is great. Its, crisp and clear and helps define the story and characters. The sound track is all original which is yet another plus. It hits all the right notes and lets the action take a front seat while keeping the suspense high during lulls in battle. Weapons effects sound a bit on the tinny side. Stringing together effects with some more battle chatter would go even farther in helping amp up the intensity of engagements and steer away from making units feel toy-like.
Cold War Crisis feels like a true total conversion. It exhibits the polish in presentation that makes the whole experience go down smooth. While other RTS mods may add in a few new units to use in multiplayer, Cold War Crisis goes the extra mile. Singleplayer missions, punishing skirmish AI, and a full introductory tutorial are all part of the package. The AI could do with some tuning in order to make the mod a little more newbie-friendly. It managed to kick my ass every single time on easy and I'm not exactly a slouch in the RTS field.
Resource management is done by building initial base structures to provide supplies and fuel. Additional buildings around the map have to be captured to append to your resource pool. Without fuel, all of your vehicles will cease to function—making it much more vital than the traditional "power" resource used in C&C games. Individual infantry units have different stance and secondary functions as well. Going prone will stealth your units until they start to fire. This places more importance on the micro-management of units. All of these features move it away from the C&C influence and add a decidedly Company of Heroes feel to the mod minced together with bits of Operation: Flashpoint. It's more about tactics and small troop movements than anything else.
Cold War Crisis manages to change so much of the original Zero Hour game that it proves to be a major departure. It has enough depth in its gameplay to keep you entertained for hours on end. Now if I could only beat the AI...
Cold War Crisis releases late July/early August 2008. A recommended download for any RTS fan.