To be fair, foot soldiers are a little smarter than they used to be. Now enemy infantry only rush suicidally towards your tanks about half the time. The other half, they lurk in pretty structures (Stormregion always did architecture well) or take advantage of a new, fairly crude cover system, squatting behind conveniently placed crates and concrete pipes. It's not Men of War or Company of Heroes, but it is progress.
Usually in a review like this, I'd squeeze in the odd war story, the odd battle anecdote illustrating the game at its most dramatic or unique. With Cold War that's going to be tricky. Thinking back over many not-unpleasant hours of play, I'm struggling to pluck even one noteworthy event from the murk. The first time I saw reinforcements fast-roping down from a hovering helo was moderately memorable I suppose. Oh, and my first napalm strike made me smile. Capturing that howitzer bunker then using its artillery piece to pound an enemy base, yes that was good too. What I can't recall are any occasions when the AI or scenario designer wrongfooted me, or the spectacle had me reaching instinctively for the screenshot key. Hmm.
Part of me wishes the Magyars had just let rip with the post-war fantasy tosh. Inclusion of vehicles like the Trojanov heavy tank and the M50A1 Ontos - an AFV mounted with a calliope of recoilless rifles - prove they weren't afraid to mess with the history. An overblown War Front: Turning Point-style approach, complete with absurd units and tongue-in-cheek humour might have distracted us from the tiredness of the engine. Give me a few Caspian Sea Monsters, the odd poison-tipped umbrella wielding Bulgarian assassin, and freshly drafted Elvis Presley hero unit, and I'll give you an enthusiastic review. Probably. The massive comedy potential of the former Eastern bloc is, strangely, something that game makers are only just starting to tap (see Stalin Vs. Martians).
Or maybe the developers could have gone the other way and ramped up the realism. After the essentially credible delights of Men of War and Empire, the warfare here feels decidedly bogus. Tanks chip away at each others' hitpoint bars at pointblank range, air support arrives instantaneously, depleted infantry squads magically spawn new manpower when close to aid stations... there's nothing wrong with any of this shorthand, but it does conspire to create characterless combat. Had Innoglow quadruped the size of its maps and forces, and stretched the shrunken LOS bubbles to enable longer engagement ranges, Cold War might have attracted some curiosity from the Close Combat fraternity. Throw in a relatively neglected conflict like Korea and, bingo, you've got yourself a gritty and unusual pop wargame.
As it stands I'm really not sure who this game was intended for. Anyone with RTS sympathies will be able to wring some pleasure from it, but no-one's likely to enjoy it enough to recommend it to a mate, devote a fan-site to it, or have its logo tattooed in a private place. We're fortunate to be awash with fabulous strategy titles at the moment, and unadventurous solidity like this, really doesn't cut it. If you must have fifties flavour with your real-time strategy, try playing World in Conflict on a black-and-white monitor while smoking a pipe, and wearing a knitted tank-top and a worried expression.
5 / 10