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Cold Fear PS2 Review - -

Gameplay 8.5
Graphics 8.9
Sound 8.8
Value 8.8
Distributor: UbiSoft
Review Date:
May 2005
Darren McKenzie


Cold Fear

Cold Fear is the latest survival horror game to scare gamers on the PlayStation 2 that transforms players into the role of Tom Hansen, a blonde haired, gnarly looking dude who is a US Coast Guard. He’s got a distress call from a huge Russian Whaler vessel that has got a problem whilst at sea. There is a furious storm out at sea too to make matters worse, and there is something up with the "residents" *sorry* of the ship. You begin playing on the deck of a ship, and you must investigate what is going on. The storm is causing the ship to roll incredibly, with crashing waves hitting the sides, and spilling over onto the deck.

The rain is insanely hard, meaning very low visibility. At any point in the game, you can switch between 3rd and 1st person viewpoint, which is very handy when searching the dark rooms of the game. You can, of course, shoot enemies in either view point too, and walk in both modes too – a fantastic feature. To go into 1st person mode, you press and hold L1. The mode looks almost identical to the aiming in RE4; the camera sits behind Tom’s right shoulder and you have a laser pointer to assist aiming. It worked superbly in RE4 and it works just as well here too. To shoot you press R1, and reloading is done via ‘SQUARE’. One nice feature Cold Fear has over RE4 is that you can cycle through weapons on the fly, using the R2 and L2 buttons. This works well, and saves having to go into inventory menus all the time. An interaction button performs all the action features in the game, like searching enemies for ammo, or opening doors etc. The button lights up on screen when the feature can be used.

Cold Fear plays similar to many other survival horror games, as you go into different rooms and find documents with information on, keys, electronic codes, and new weaponry too. The first main objective is to find out exactly what is going on the ship, and you must find a character who has codes to get into certain rooms on the ship. At this point, you come across the enemies in the game, and they are a very strange bunch. You could call them possessed or zombified, and that would be a rather good description of them. Shoot them a few times and you will knock them to the floor, but unless you destroy their head by either shooting it off, or stomping on it (which results with a splash of blood on the camera), they get up and come back for you. Standing on their heads can be really fiddly at times, as you have to get the position exactly right when standing above them, so the interaction button lights up and you can stand on them. If you aren’t quick enough they’ll get back up on their feet again. If you drop them when they are near a wall or staircase, it’s very hard to stand on their head, and sometimes shooting them in the face doesn’t always result in a hit either. This gets frustrating if enemies surround you, and ammo is tight, as you have to use more if they are standing up again after not being finished off.

Cold Fear is quite fast-paced, with lots of attacks from many enemies at once, but Tom’s movement feels slow. He doesn’t run very fast, and after about ten seconds he’s run out of energy and must walk again (a resistance gauge fills up on screen). I expected a US Coast Guard to have more stamina than that, but there you go. I can understand the idea behind it, with a rolling ship and very windy conditions outside, but it gets rather frustrating when you’re trying to escape enemies, or run through the various rooms during backtracking sections. Aiming also feels slow, and the game in general is rather sluggish too. Going back to RE4 after playing this feels so much quicker, with rapid aiming, and extremely smooth movement. Having a smoother frame rate would have helped Cold Fear feel much quicker than it does.

Graphically Cold Fear is fantastic. The environments look incredible – the swaying boat in the storm is awesome, with lashing rain and huge waves rolling out to sea. It really looks special. Texturing is really nicely detailed too, and the game has a lovely industrial feel to it, perhaps with a hint of Metal Gear Solid 2’s palette from the Tanker level. Darkworks have made an extremely convincing game world here, and the movement restrictions for Tom as he struggles against the weather work incredibly well and more importantly, feel right. Inside the ship, everything looks great too, with nicely detailed rooms and corridors, and the slow camera movement giving the sensation of the ship rolling in the ocean is done really well. You really do feel like you’re in a hardcore storm at sea. Later the quality continues as you reach a new area in the game. Lighting and water effects are really good too, and some weapons have torches attached to them, so you can search the dark areas of the game in relative safety.

In conclusion, Cold Fear is a really nice game that truly adds something to the genre of survival horror but unfortunately the control does feel sluggish at times, and has a few niggles like collision detection when finishing off enemies, and its also way too short. If you have never played the Resident Evil series than I would recommend this title, however if you have played this series and you can't get enough of these, you best check this one out!


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