Initial Impressions: Cold War
Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Gaming on 13 May 2006. Page 1 of 3. Add A Comment

After spending a great deal of time with Linux Game Publishing's Cold War, we have a few personal comments to share in regards to its game-play and other happenings with this title. Of course, this will only be a small portion of what will appear on Phoronix with this Mindware title. Since last year when the Cold War demo was made available, it has raised many eyebrows with this being a unique game from a relatively unheard of company -- Mindware Studios. These studios have only been in existent since July of 2001, and are based inside the Czech Republic, with their only apparent project at this time being Cold War. Dreamcatcher Interactive was the publisher of the Microsoft Windows PC version as well as the port for Microsoft's Xbox.

Linux Game Publishing's hand on this game is to simply publish the title. On April 26, 2006 Linux Game Publishing announced that they had won the bid to publish Cold War, and that it would be almost directly sent to Beta stages. In order to be apart of LGP's Beta community, you must either complete their application (and hope to be approved) or pre-order the particular title (or well, be a Linux media specialist). Due to some problems with the LGP's download server, the first Beta was not made available until two days ago -- May 11, 2006. This is not a Beta of the demo version that was released late last year, but is rather the full-blown game -- with the exception of a few possible bugs. At this time, the full version of Cold War for Linux is 1348.0MB in size.

With Mindware Studios having already produced and made available a demo of this game, there does not appear to be too many bug-related items that have to be worked out. Compared to the recent ending of LGP's X2 The Threat port, which had lasted for over five months, and nine Betas, we would expect to see only a handful for Cold War. At this time, the release date for Cold War under Linux is June 15, 2006. However, it is important to keep in mind that the original release date for X2 The Threat was November of 2005, and LGP had only went gold with that title around the announcement of Cold War being their next project.

In the time since the Cold War demo was made available to the select Beta testers at 4:51 Thursday morning, there are only a handful of reported bugs on their Mantis Bug Tracker. While only having time thus far to install the title on a few of our testing machines, we have not encountered any major show stopping problems. In addition, from the game-play thus far, the experience has been pleasurable to say the least. We have already communicated with Michael Simms, the Linux Game Publishing CEO, in regards to Cold War, and we will likely share additional comments in the near future. For those benchmarking fanatics, we had asked Mr. Simms about integrated benchmarking capabilities in the game, and thus far, he is unsure of any -- though, it may be possible to launch such a mode from a script. EDIT: In order to view the FPS in-game, add trace_frame_buffer 2 to the Cold War configuration file.

When launching Cold War, the available menu options are starting, continuing, and loading a new game, adjusting options, viewing credits, and finally exiting the game. The options available for manipulation at this time include those for control, audio, and video. Unlike the Cold War demo that came out last year that had only contained two levels, when starting a new game, multiple game-modes are available. These modes include story, time-run, pacifist, and ghost. Story is targeted after the normal story mode for the game -- it is the recommended option when initially starting out Cold War. Time-run involves finishing each level before the time runs out. As implied by Pacifist, you must finish each level without killing anyone. Finally, with ghost you must finish each level without causing too many alarms. On top of these modes, the game difficulty can be altered for easy, medium, and hard.

Right from the get-go after playing the demo last year, we knew we would be in for a real unique gaming environment. For an example of the ipseity of this title, the cut-scenes are more along the lines of comic book graphics rather than anything common to traditional first or third person shooters. We had spent hours thus far playing the beta of Cold War, and so far it has been incredibly enjoyable -- with the exception of the occasional bugs, including sound distortions and system lock-ups.

When it comes to the ever-heightening graphics requirements, Michael Simms has yet to release any slated system requirements, and we at Phoronix have yet to pull off a GPU showdown with the game. Users on LGP's mailing list and IRC channel have reported troubles with a few NVIDIA GeForce 5 series (and older) graphics cards, but we at Phoronix have had no troubles thus far running the game on a few NVIDIA GeForce 7 solutions and ATI Radeon parts. Although Linux Game Publishing seems to be primarily focused on providing an enjoyable NVIDIA Linux experience, we had initially faced some ATI fglrx challenges, but we soon managed to resolve those problems.

Without spoiling everything about this game even before it even reaches the Linux gaming masses, Mindware's Cold War is truly phenomenal. In fact, Cold War is one of the best single-player shooters we have ever played on Linux. While it may not be as mystical or action-packed as id Software's Quake 4, it does require a certain level of ingenuity and is simply not after causing the most deaths or havoc. When it comes to the graphics for this game, they are impressive (with the exception of the fire) -- but not quite on the same stage as Doom 3 or Quake 4.

Cold War for Linux by Mindware Studios and Linux Game Publishing is certainly a momentous achievement for Linux gamers. We were mesmerized for hours by the innovative game-play and full-featured options. Cold War is easily the Splinter Cell or MacGyver of games -- with the abilities to create rubber bullets, ether mines, and other improvised devices. Among many other stealth environmental options, there are the abilities to hide inside of a car trunk or underneath a table while planning the next method of attack.

As new Cold War Beta candidates arrive, or other pertinent information is released or discovered, we will be sure to pass it onto our readers -- along with hopefully a GPU performance comparison in the coming weeks. On the following pages are a few Cold War screenshots we have taken from the Beta thus far.

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