Now this game has quite often been criticised for being 'resident evil on a boat' and whereas there are valid reasons for the statement, I believe it does more then enough to hold its own. But unfortunately not in regards to story. Your character is a coastguard who has been flown out to a ship during a pretty damn heavy storm to investigate why the ship is failing to respond. After doing some rummaging you realise the crew (most of them anyway) have been turned into not very nice creatures. Can you guess why? Yes you are correct, because some scientists wanted to experiment with life forms found on the bottom of the ocean, and so they created a mutagen out of it and, well if you've played any resident evil game you know the rest. To be fair though, its incredibly hard for any game to have a plot revolving around mutant life forms and attempts for genetic superiority without being labelled as RE clone. So with that in mind I've given a score that reflects how hard I believe the developers tried to make the story their own, but also how they fell just short of the mark to escape being labelled as a RE copy.
As with the story, if you've played any RE games then the gameplay here will be ever so familiar, in-particular Resident Evil 4. The camera angles, the control scheme, the combat situations - everything just feels like RE4. But unlike a few other reviews I've decided that it ain't a bad thing. If it isn't broke don't fix. All that aside the game features a healthy variety of bad guys, some easy to kill some not so, keeps everything fresh. To stop your brain from decaying the game also features little puzzles or 'situations' here and there where you need more then a quick trigger finger to stay alive. All in all I was very impressed with the playability of the game, however the game isn't exactly long and you find yourself completing it before you've even really started.
Released in 2005, Cold Fear came out in the same era as Doom 3 and Half Life 2. Anyone who whose played the latter games will know they were absolutely stunning in their time (still are now to be honest). Now Cold Fear does not match the above titles with pretty textures and high resolutions, it does know how to use the everything you can see to create an atmosphere. Personally I believe that's more important - its all good having something look really pretty but if serves no purpose to the overall effect then what's the point. It's all about the detail, the way the ship moves in the storm and causes water to run along the deck, the way the rain changes direction with the wind and can impair your vision. All these little things Cold Fear does so well and that's what's important.
As with any horror game, the intent to scare is always there. Therefore everything is used to achieve this. But to me, you have to be careful with sound. Games like Doom 3 where some blazing heavy music will start while your trying to dismember as multiple demons just don't make the game scary. Sure its the adrenaline pumping but its just not enough. In my opinion the trick lies with all those little ambient sounds in the background. In Cold Fear, anywhere you are on the ship you can still hear the storm raging outside, the crack of lightening as it whips the black night, the bellowing booms of thunder, howling winds. It just works really really well. The only reason I cant give a high score is because yet another game has fallen prey to the curse of poor voice acting. I've lost count of how many games could have been classics had only the acting quality been better.
Scare Factor 7/10
Personally I didn't find these game particularly scary in the usual sense. At no point was I constantly on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to be around the next corner. To be honest it was more eerie then anything else. Dark, silent ship, in the middle of a violent storm. You know when your out and about late at night or early morning and there's a heavy fog in the air? You know how its not scary but yet there's something eerie and creepy about it? That's what I feel with Cold Fear.
Final Score 70%
Cold Fear is the first action-horror title under the Ubisoft brand. The game is set in a dynamic environment on a stormy sea, including intense combat, intelligent enemies, and a high element of the shockingly unexpected. Your life jacket won't be sufficient. Players step into the role of Tom Hansen, a U.S. Coast Guard who is sent to board a drifting Russian whaling ship in the middle of a howling storm on the Bering Sea, who will discover there is no safe place here. On this constantly rocking and shifting ship and a mysterious oil rig, players must turn their interactive surroundings to their advantage to take down human enemies - and enemies that aren't human any more - and save their own life