I had lowered expectations going into Cold Fear because most of the console-to-PC ports I've played, with the exception of a few rare gems, are difficult to play and have graphics that aren't improved from their console birth. However, when I started the game up I soon realized that some of my expectations were incorrect. Cold Fear comes very close to being a great game but has a few things that really hold it back; things that I would think are very obvious and I'm surprised they weren't fixed for the PC version.
The story is a standard shooter/action game story that involves a young Russian woman, equipped with a standard arsenal of weapons and a mission to save the world from a scientifically created virus. You are Tom Hansen, employed with the U.S. Coast Guard, called up to answer a distress signal that came from a Russian vessel. A Special Forces team was sent to investigate the ship but they were all killed by an unknown force. The game begins as you board what seems like a completely empty ship in the middle of an arctic storm. You soon find out that you are facing an army of zombie-like creatures which came about because of a shadowy scientific project carried out by a group of Russians.
The most disappointing aspect of the gameplay is the console view and controls. In the normal viewing mode your viewpoint is in the third person but the camera angles will change to different places--so the key you set to “forward” will not always be forward. This is something that is incredibly annoying and is present in many console-to-PC ports. There is a different viewpoint you can use which I'll call the “good conscious viewpoint,” simply because it's a view just over your character's right shoulder. This viewpoint has to be used in order to fire your weapon--meaning you can't run in this viewpoint--and because the camera won't change around in this view I used it almost the entire time. Was it a good viewpoint? NO! It was the worst viewpoint I've ever experienced in a video game. Think about this: you're heading down a hallway using your “good conscious viewpoint” because you are expecting to encounter enemies. There's another hallway to your right – which means you have to expose your entire body in order look around the corner and potentially shoot at the enemy. All I can say is what was Darkworks thinking? Any beta tester would have complained about this in the PC version and I think Ubisoft and Darkworks really missed the boat. If they would have developed the game with a standard third person shooter viewpoint, the game would have been tremendously better.
The other big mistake in the game is the fact that there isn't any kind of map. You only venture to two places in the game but these two places are huge and if you don't have the memory of a genius you'll almost have to resort to looking through walkthroughs on the net. Unless you have hours of time on your hands and are willing to run around aimlessly looking for your next objective--especially on the oil rig--you'll be frustrated. If Darkworks thought there wouldn't be enough playing time (the game did seem a bit on the short side) if maps were included, they could have at least given some partial maps or clues.
Alright, getting over the cons, the game is kind of like a third person shooter/arcade zombie game mixed together. The most prevalent enemy you'll encounter is a person that's been infected by an exocell (somewhat similar to Half-Life's head crabs but they can climb to more places and have a long thing that shoots out of their body). You will encounter exocells on their own but when a human is infected by one they turn into zombies with axes and guns. Standard with other zombie games and movies you have to destroy the creature's head in order to keep it from returning to life. There are other types of creatures you will face in the game but I'll let those be a surprise if you decide to play, rent or purchase it.
Actually, there are some more cons. Despite the preposterous “good conscious viewpoint” you get the hang of firing your weapons after playing a while. However, some of your weapons have laser guided sights others don't--and the ones that don't are very difficult to aim. As you'll read below in the graphics section, the entire game takes place in a dark environment so it would have been nice if more weapons had the capability of using the laser to aim.
Before I forget, like other console ports you can only save the game when you reach a checkpoint and even then your have a limited number of “memory slots.” The memory slots equal lazy developers that don't care about the PC version to me.
Cold Fear's graphics are what surprised me the most when I fired up the game. The game takes place on the sea, on both a ship and later an oil rig, in the middle of a storm at sea. You are constantly rocking back and forth on the ship and there's a great deal of rain, waves, and it's cloudy and dark throughout the entire game. They aren't groundbreaking but I certainly noticed the graphics and they seemed to be pretty good compared with other current titles.
I haven't played many games that take place out at sea and I'm almost certain that I've never played a game where the main character is a member of the Coast Guard but I really thought that game simulated the environments very well.
The sound in the game was well done for the most part. Part of the reason the environments were simulated so well, as I stated in the graphics section, was because of the sounds from the waves, rain, thunder, etc.
Once in a while some music started up that sounded like some kind of industrial rock music that I might compare to a band such as Nine Inch Nails (minus the vocals). This music started up at the more intense parts of the game and I did enjoy when it came on.
The voice acting is pretty corny most of the time and reminds me of some poorly made action movies. Sometimes action games/movies have some room for corny lines though, so it doesn't affect the final score too much by my standards.
Cold Fear doesn't have any multiplayer capabilities and I really can't see myself picking up this game again. I was really disappointed with this game because it has good potential and includes certain qualities that makes a great game, but fails to deliver because of the things mentioned above. Porting console games to the PC should not be viewed as some small task to make money on a different system by the developer and publisher. If they want a game like this to be successful my advice would be follow the console-to-PC port leaders such as Rockstar Games. Although it takes a bit of time Rockstar can deliver a quality product on multiple systems.
I would have loved to give this game an overall score of a high eight (and it could have been) but I have no choice but to dock it because of the things that really hold it back. It will most likely play better on a console but the things mentioned will still hold it back from being a hit title.
• The graphics are pretty good
• Great environment simulation
• The in-game music was well done when it came on
• Good weapon selection
• Too much of a console feel – controls and viewpoints
• Cannot save the game when you want, and when you want to you only have a small number of memory “slots”
• NO MAPS = NO WIN
• Voice acting is a little on the corny side
• Short game and short story
• Weapons without laser sights are hard to aim