Now that Resident Evil 4 will pass on PS2 and Xbox, Sony & Microsoft adepts have to settle for other (lesser?) horror games. One of these is Cold Fear, the latest creation from Darkworks, who previously made themselves known with the Alone in the Dark series. Let’s see whather they can continue the line of this excellent series to this new game.
The storyline of Cold Fear builds further on several cliches from the genre (zombies, mutants, chemical experiments and a hero who’s completely on his own).
Don’t despair, the story is nicely crafted and will give away its secrets one by one. You take on the character of agent Tom Hansen who at the beginning of the game is alone on a (seemingly) abandoned ship. While setting your first steps, you hear your complete backup crew being slaughtered and the rest of the adventure you’ll be on your own. The rest is quite obvious… Apparantly, the Russians have done some biological experiments and – how could it not be – some things have gone wrong. Result: a ship inhabited with all types of variations on the zombie-theme, one even more deadly than the other.
The graphics are excellent without being stunning. The atmosphere on the ship is perfectly shown and is gripping. More than once you’ll enter a dark room and feel that something or someone is present. Also the sound nicely adds to the atmosphere. The makers have also done a good job in simulating the movements of the ship. Make sure you’ve got a barfbag next to you as the cradling of the ship is so realistic that after a while you really tend to get nauseous.
The only problems we have with Cold Fear are with the gameplay. You can play either in first or third person view. If you want to have any chance in killing your enemies, you’ll have to restrict yourself to first person as accurate aiming in third person view is almost impossible. The shooting itself is made a little easier by means of a red laser dot that shows where you are aiming but calling it a decent help is a bit too much. As with a lot of console shooters, accurate shooting is a problem and seeing that some monsters can only be killed with a headshot, this is clearly a disadvantage.
The gameplay itself is fairly simple. Find key to unlock door, shoot monsters until you reach next door, find key, etc. This tends to get quite repetitive and on top of that the keys aren’t always in the proximity of the door which means you’ll often have to dwell half the ship before getting to the correct door. The (unforgivable) absence of a map makes that it often takes you quite a lot of time before you get where you want to go. Next to that, the amount of savepoints is scarce so prepare for some frustrating moment when you’ve completed a long journey to find yourself getting killed right before reaching your goal.
On the other hand, the game isn’t too long and a seasoned horror game lover won’t have too many problems to finish Cold Fear in a reasonably short timespan.
In conclusion we can say that Cold Fear is a decent game without anything else. If you can choose between this and Resident Evil 4, the latter gets the upper hand. Cold Fear is a good introduction to the genre or a nice sweetner until Resident Evil returns on PS2 and/or Xbox.