A Brutal Gamer review.
Instuction manuals for video games often don’t get used as anything more than a reference point these days. Usually, you’ll get an in-game tutorial that takes you through the basics and then sends you on your merry way. Supreme Ruler: Cold War doesn’t offer any kind of tutorial whatsoever, and if ever a game needed one, this is it.
Supreme Ruler: Cold War is a strategy game dealing with, as you might guess, the aftermath of World War II and relations between the US and the Soviet Union. There are two main single player modes, campaign and sandbox. In Campaign, you choose a side and then try and influence the world as much as you can through a variety of means, including diplomacy, trade, research or good old fashioned military power. Meanwhile, in Sandbox mode, you can pick any of the countries on offer, with the world mostly at peace initially, and do what you will.
One of the biggest things to hit you with this game is just how much depth and control there is. The sheer plethora of options and buttons is staggering, and will initially be quite daunting to anyone who isn’t used to these kinds of deep strategygames, especially as there is no kind of tutorial. You just pick a side, and it drops you in and leaves you to fend for yourself. However, it doesn’t force you to micro manage every little detail. You can set your advisors and Throughout the areas you control, there are masses of options for building up your army, improving your country’s infrastructure and researching and developing new technology and goods.
When you’re not dealing with all that, you have lots of diplomatic situations to look at. You will be alerted as to when situations change, such as a country declaring war on another, and you can choose whether to condemn, support or just ignore what’s going on. You can also attempt to negotiate with other nations to get them on your side. Obviously, some nations won’t make deals with you regardless how good an offer you make them. For example, if you play as the US, North Korea will mostly just laugh at you.
However, any action you take can have an effect elsewhere. For example, if you have a pact to protect a nation from attack by an enemy, sending some of your army to go in and defend them will improve your relationship with them, but may cause another nation to frown upon you, or perhaps even declare war on you. It can be a very delicate balance if you want to succeed in your aims. This also means that the old classic strategy tactic of building up an enormous army and steamrollering over the opposition just will not work here. Your actions won’t go unnoticed, so you will truly need to plan ahead if you want to grab some extra territory.
The best way to see how you’re doing as a whole is by seeing the bar right in the top corner, indicating the power struggle between NATO and the countries of the Warsaw Pact. This represents Supreme Ruler Cold War’s “Spheres of Influence”, which shows how all the decisions made by the nations affiliated with each organisation influence the world as a whole. The ultimate aim in this is the famous ‘Space Race’, which will essentially win you the war if you’re the first into space, as neutral countries will be very willing to ally with you, allowing you to be the major world power. Also, the DEFCON meter at the top depicts how high tensions are between East and West.
All this extreme micromanagement is wrapped up in what is, it must be said, not the prettiest shell you’ll see. It looks a lot like Civilization II’s much more layered brother. It’s far from ugly, though, and it’s perfectly functional for your purposes, and allows you to keep track of busier areas very quickly. The soundtrack, on the other hand, is suitably tense and war like, which can make you paranoid if you’re waiting for something to happen.
If you like your strategy games full fat and in depth, then Supreme Ruler Cold War is the perfect game for you. If you want to manage every tiny aspect of your country’s operations, you can. There’s also lots of replayability with the 16 player multiplayer as well as the Sanbox mode allowing you to pick whichever country you so choose. If you’re a newcomer to this kind of strategy game, though, you’ll probably want to avoid it, as this game is as hard to get into as Fort Knox. This is also not the sort of game you can just hop in, do a quick mission and then hop out again. It’s not for everyone, but if you can get past the lack of instruction and tutorial, you’ll fall in love with it.