The year is 1949 and the world is emerging from the ruins of World War II. Two superpowers—the United States and the Soviet Union—former allies, have carved up the world into spheres of influence, marking the beginning of the Cold War. Strategy gurus, Paradox Interactive and Battlegoat Studios have teamed up together to bring the latest title to the grand strategy genre, Supreme Ruler: Cold War. Through the use of diplomacy, foreign aid, espionage, trade, research, covert operations, and military might, Supreme Ruler: Cold War allows players to lead a nation through this turbulent era to relive history or change it.
Cold War features three modes: Campaign, Sandbox, and Scenarios. In Campaign mode, players will be able to play either the United States or the Soviet Union. Grand strategy games can be very complex. And if you find the game overwhelming, then Sandbox mode would be a better option as it allows players to select from a wide array of countries that are easier to manage and learn the basics of the game as there is a lack of a tutorial. Scenarios allow players to play specific conflicts during the Cold War era such as the Korean War and Vietnam. This is particularly appealing for those that want to jump into the action instead of tediously managing other affairs of state.
Central to the game and its Cold War theme is the Sphere of Influence meter which indicates countries aligned with democracy and communism as well as non-aligned nations. If you choose to play as either a NATO or Warsaw Pact nation, one of your missions will be to draw these non-aligned governments to your side. Using foreign aid and subversion through funding insurgencies, players will be able to undermine other nations in order to draw them toward a pole.
The DEFCON meter indicates the level of hostility between the East and the West. The higher the rating, the closer you are to all-out nuclear war. What the game does well with this aspect is that any country could potentially affect the DEFCON level. You don’t have to play as either NATO or the Eastern bloc countries in order to influence world events. However, if you want the world to burn in nuclear oblivion, then by all means go crazy.
Of course, it wouldn’t be the Cold War without the Space Race and Nuclear Arms Race. Both are important centerpieces to the game. Your progression through these areas will determine the course of the Cold War as well as the final triumph over the other side. Falling behind in the Arms Race may not only result in a loss of influence and prestige in the world, but could end up making the other side more bold and aggressive as it looks to increase its dominance.
One word to describe the gameplay in Cold War is ‘management’. Players will have to manage politics, diplomacy, economics, defense, espionage, and research. As overwhelming as that sounds, especially for those new to the grand strategy genre, Cold War provides players with cabinet ministers, each responsible for a particular section within your infrastructure. This allows you more flexibility to manage within your comfort zone. However, it is recommended that you periodically check on what the AI is doing as it could potentially implement a policy that doesn’t help your development.
Supreme Ruler: Cold War is by far one of the most in-depth grand strategy games on the gaming market. Though not graphically advanced, the oceans-deep gameplay speaks for itself. For those select few that enjoy complex grand strategy games, this game is a must as there aren’t that many Cold War history centric strategy games out there (Red-Alert doesn’t count). Combining all aspects of statecraft, Supreme Ruler: Cold War is a game that offers a wide range of paths to victory, which provides a high replay value. The game needs copious amounts of micro-management and it suffers from a lack of a tutorial which may be a huge turn-off for those looking to get into the grand strategy genre. But for the curious, it is worth a try.
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Name: Supreme Ruler: Cold War
Available on: PC
Developed by: Battlegoat Studios
Published by: Paradox Interactive
Release date: July 19th, 2011
EG Score: 3 out of 5 / “Worth Trying”