Supreme Ruler: Cold War Review
I have always been a big fan of strategy games. They make you think rather than mindlessly run around shooting people and stealing cars — which has its place in gaming, don’t get me wrong.
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BattleGoat Studios released a game about the Cold War — my favorite area of study in modern history — and I naturally had to give it a go. However, my struggle with the game started as soon as I loaded it. I instinctively looked for a tutorial mode to familiarize myself, but it just doesn't seem to have one. So I decided to jump in and hope there would be some sort of learn-as-you-go instructions, but no — I was greeted with a map of the Soviet Union and a bunch of cities and military units, and that’s it. No instructions, objectives, hints, or tips. Needless to say, I was highly confused. So I started randomly clicking buttons, moving units, twisting knobs, and pulling levers just to see what happened.
There are a number of tutorials online and on the games forums, but the game badly needs an in-game tutorial, such as those seen in the highly successful Total War and Age of Empires series.
However, when I overcame the catastrophic lack of an in-game tutorial, I found it all — as a hard-bitten strategy junky — to be highly satisfying. There are three modes: campaign, sandbox, and scenario. In sandbox, you can play as any of the nations; I had a great time playing as Ireland, but it was difficult — no wonder we weren’t a big player in the Cold War! In campaign mode, you choose to either play as the USSR or the United States. The theme is expanding your sphere of influence by drawing the unaligned nations to your side using a combination of diplomacy or military power, providing humanitarian aid or funding rebellions. With all of this in the backdrop of the space race and nuclear arms race, the player is required to carefully and closely manage his power and finances.
Supreme Ruler: Cold War is one of the most detailed, in-depth and intricate strategy games available. But, of course, all this depth comes at a cost. It’s not as aesthetically pleasing as other games in the genre, and if you are looking for a game you can immediately jump into and start playing successfully, then go elsewhere. However, if you are looking for an in-depth, intense, demanding, no-holds-barred hardcore strategy game, this is the one for you. On a final note, BattleGoat Studios: For the love of God, include a tutorial.