XBOX REVIEW: COLD FEAR

Cold Fear could be best described as Resident Evil 4-Lite. It doesn't have the epic quality of the popular Capcom series but for a tight, solid, horror-survival game you could certainly do a lot worse.

Had there not been some imaginative design elements in Cold Fear it could have easily been dismissed as a generic zombie shooting gallery. Working with less of a budget than Capcom, Darkworks was at least able to infuse the game with personality, thrills and chills.

Tom Hansen is with the Coast Guard. He and a crew are sent to investigate distress signals coming from a Russian whaler somewhere in the Arctic. Before his appearance, a team of CIA agents that were sent out to investigate has disappeared. What he stumbles on is a little more than just your average ghost ship. The place is literally crawling with mutant zombies just dying to rip you to shreds.

Not all of the action takes place on the ship, but it sure makes a great location for a game like this since the entire play area moves as it gets pushed and pulled by the waves the winds. The swaying of the boat adds a new twist to the gameplay as you'll find yourself fighting gravity in an effort just to stay aboard, upright and safe from swaying hooks and toppling crates. It makes aiming a little more challenging as well. Fortunately in this game you can walk, aim and shoot at the same time. The weapons have flashlights on them so that you can see in the dark. You can only illuminate a little area at a time which adds to the overall creepiness since you never know what's going to pop out at you from the shadows.

If you've seen one zombie you've seen them all and the same goes for the zombies in Cold Fear. They're not particularly frightening or original but they sure blow up real good. They do have a nasty habit of moving faster as they get closer to you which really increases your anxiety levels. When you first encounter the average zombie they will move about very slowly allowing you time to fix a laser bead on them and let them have it. Headshots are the only thing that will stop them dead. If you can't get a good headshot off, they will continue moving forward. As they get to within an arm's length you better get a shot off fast or you'll be toast. Blasting a zombie in the head at such close range results in a spectacular gory burst of crimson and cranial matter.

In between shooting zombies and other mutated creatures, you'll explore the boat finding shreds of evidence that gives you some background into the origin of the horrors you encounter. You'll find various keys and codes that you will need to access certain areas of the ship. Some doors and rooms will become sealed trapping you in or out. Water will fill in some areas forcing you to pump it out. There is no in-game map of the ship but there's one in the manual which I recommend having available for the first hour or so. The ship isn't huge but it's still easy to get lost.

After the ship you'll find yourself on an oil rig. This time there is no map but at least it's not an overly huge area. The zombie shooting, puzzles and different locations are well balanced to keep the game from getting repetitive or boring. The action is fast-paced. The Xbox version is the one to get because the load times are quick. Much quicker than the PS2. You can also get a resolution of 720p which makes the monsters almost jump off the screen. The locations are filled with details but more variation in the character models of the zombies would have been welcome.

The creepy atmosphere of the game is bound to give you goosebumps. There's a certain amount of realism to the situations that makes it seem more believable than your average shooter - even though it features zombies. The fact that the game is tight also means that it's short. A good puzzle solver should get through this in a day although the Extreme Difficulty mode will certainly challenge you much longer. Definitely recommended for a rental.

Preview By Chris

Gamers love action games and the latest trend is to throw in a mix of horror. The two seem to go very well together if the story is well written. It now seems Ubisoft, well known for their intense action games, is teaming up with Darkworks to bring gamers a new adventure-horror game. While the game is being developed by Darkworks, it looks like Ubisoft is also lending a hand in this new game.

The story will focus on a whaler ship that is late for its arrival. This sparks the attention of a CIA agent who begins to investigate why the ship is off course and also late. Of course he needs to call the Coast Guard and update them on the situation. So far it sounds like a decent story right? Well, things get a little complicated when the CIA agent never reports back to the Coast Guard. So their top guy, Tom Hansen, gets the unlucky call to investigate the situation. You may see where the game is going already? Gamers will play as Tom in this eerie adventure with a horror twist.

Tom soon finds the ship and boards it looking for the crew. The waters are rough and something very strange is going on. While trying to find the crew, he gets lost on the massive ship. This may be the best thing that happened in the game for old Tom. You see the rest of the crew who are actually are on the other side of the ship and wind up slaughtered. Tom soon finds himself the only known person left alive on the ship. Gamers will have to not only help Tom found a radio so he can get off this hell cruise as well as get to the real mystery going on.

So far the games full details are limited but with Ubisoft behind this one it's sure to be a decent game filled with intense action. Of course it also seems this one will be filled with some scary things that will have gamers jumping out of their seats at times. We have the newest screen shots and just from looking at these, you can see the game has a dark and eerie feel to it. Stay tuned folks; we will have more on this one as soon as Ubisoft releases more on this new action-horror adventure.

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System: Xbox, PS2, PC
Dev: Darkworks
Pub: Ubi Soft
Released: March 2005
Players: 1
Review by Stew XX
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.0
GRAPHICS
4.5
CONTROL
4.5
MUSIC/FX
3.0
VALUE
3.0