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Thursday, August 3rd 2017, 3:35am

Game Review: Cold Waters

So where have I been the last few weeks? Well, I've been...
- Working hard
- Preached twice at church
- Got sick
- Cars broken yet again
- Acquired kitten!
- Did some non-WW writing
- Aaaaaand... playing Cold Waters.

Q. What is it?
A computer game.

Q. Can you provide specifics, you pedantic ninny?
Sure. Imagine reading the submarine parts of Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising and saying "That was cool, is there a computer game version of that?" Yes, yes there is. It's called Cold Waters. Currently, you get a hat full of Single Missions and two campaigns, the 1984 Campaign and the 1968 Campaign. You've got the standard third-person view camera looking over your submarine, and very simple controls.

If you remember back a few years, I reviewed a turn-based game called Atlantic Fleet. Cold Waters is made by the same studio. It's worth noting that the studio in question is two guys with some occasional support (from what I understand), so the fact that they've produced a major game is pretty darned cool.

Do you recommend it?
Yes. It's so good that I only logged into World of Warships once in the last week, and that was because I had to finish my mission. I'm addicted.

A lot of other people recommend it, too. It actually hit #6 on Steam just prior to their summer sale.

Q. What submarines are there?
You can command boats from the Skipjack class, Thresher-Permit class, Sturgeon class, and Flight I Los Angeles class.

And then you can download the mods, since players promptly went out and made it possible to play all the submarines in the game, and a few extras, besides. The only thing is, adding new 3D models is a bit difficult, so the HMS Deadnought (S101, not the battlewagon) looks suspiciously like a Skipjack that's defected to the Limeys. And the Akula II is just a blacker, sharkier version of the Sierra class.

Q. Are there mods?
Yes. The developers and the software are both super-friendly for mods. So friendly that, when the community made a mod to include crew voices (with forum members lending their voice acting), the developers said "Hey, can we put this in our next patch? Yes? Sweet - done!" All the guys ended up in the game credits.

Q. Is the game difficult?
Not usually... but it can be, if you want to make it so.

You can try commanding a submarine in the 1968 campaign, when all you have is Mk37 acoustic torpedoes and Mk14 straight-running torpedoes. Trying to use either of those weapons are generally rage-inducing, as the Mk14 torpedoes just flat-out MISS, and the Mk37 torpedoes aren't fast enough to overtake most Soviet warships, presuming they just steam full speed away from you. All those guys on the fantail of that Kanin class? Yeah, they're mooning you and laughing at your pathetic capitalist military hardware. And you can't even go to flank speed, chase them down, ram them in the middle and board them... because with the exception of Skipjack, you're still slower.

But then you show back up in 1984 with your Flight I Los Angeles, Mk48 torpedoes (aka 'You ded nao'), Tomahawks, and Harpoon missiles. He who laughs last, laughs longest! WHERE IS YOUR PUNY KIROV NOW, COMRADE? WHERE IS IT?! ...Ahem... though the Sovs do get a few new toys to call their own, like the SS-N-14 missiles (also known as 'WhereTheBleepDidThatTorpedoComeFrom') and more helicopters (also known as 'WhereTheBleepDidThatTorpedoComeFrom').

I completed the 1968 campaign mostly by virtue of using one a mod to... acquire a Charlie I fresh from the shipyard, which did her part for the good old USA. Being something of an emigre, I got to use the Soviet torpedoes... and I got these cool things called antiship missiles, which proved exceptionally useful in repelling the amphibious invasion of northern Norway.

Q. Is anything overpowered?
Not unless you download some of the mods. In which case, it's hilariously good fun to take a Seawolf or a Type 212 U-boat up against Soviet Whiskey, Romeo, and Juliet class submarines.

Q. What was your most fun experience in game?
On one mission, my SSN stumbled into the middle of three Russian diesel-electrics at point-blank range. We all fired torpedoes at each other... and then madly scrambled to avoid all of the torpedoes. In the mayhem, I convinced two of their torpedoes to defect to NATO. Unfortunately, one of the Foxtrot captains got my Mk48 to question its own loyalties, but after chatting with my countermeasures, my Mk48 returned to the cause of freedom, justice, and the 'Murican way. Score? USN: 1. Sovs: -2. (Future lesson? Don't lose the wire on a Mk48. It stops being a torpedo and starts being a grenade.

Q. Is there multiplayer or team-based content?
No! Thank goodness, somebody still knows how to make a proper game for those of us who despise social interactions with nose-mining ten year-olds who have just learned the new word "%*!@)!", drunk college students who can't remember which team they're on, and the reincarnations of Drake, Nelson, and Halsey (even though they died before everyone else because they charged the entire enemy team solo).

This isn't a downside for me. But if you like teamplay, then you shouldn't try submarines.

Q. How much is it?
$39 on Steam.

Q. Is it worth it?
Well, I thought it was a little expensive for the amount of content that comes standard. But so many mods have come out for it already that it's definitely proven itself there.

The developers (who have been shocked at the game's sales so far) have said they're going to put together a DLC, adding a Russian campaign, one more USN submarine, one more Soviet submarine (probably the Akula), and one more non-US NATO submarine (probably British, I'm guessing).

Q. Can you show me gameplay videos?
Yup. Jive Turkey on YouTube - who is a retired 688 sonarman - streams a lot of Cold Waters gameplay, and relates a lot of information both about the game and about real-life submarines. And then there's the ever-popular Mighty Jingles, who is entertainingly terrible (or at best mediocre) at the game, but hilarious.

Q. Are there any bugs or problems with the game?
Yes, a few. Nothing too wonky. Sometimes, usually during evasive maneuvers, the AI captains forget that their submarines have a crush depth. On one memorable occasion, a Victor III suicided in this manner, and my Mk48, properly determining that its intended target was dead, started searching around for another suitable target. It found me. That ungrateful little...

In the original release version (hastily patched), enemy aircraft were tiny little dispensers of death with omniscient MAD. Fortunately, that's been fixed.

Q. Why no pictures?
Because all the image sites are stupidheads.

I'm the Pollack!

Aaaiee, it's Jaws! We're going to need a bigger boat...

Or maybe a torpedo.

Goodbye, comrades, I'm defecting to the US.


Thursday, August 3rd 2017, 4:12am

Simple submarine game. Good fun. Good buy.


Thursday, August 3rd 2017, 9:46am

My gaming days are all but over, but I must admit this sounds tempting.

I used to love 688 Attack Sub on the Mega Drive.