While Ubisoft has always been one of our favorite game publishers, Cold Fear was its first foray into the survival-horror genre, so we had few expectations going in. With that being said, once we got after a few initial controller issues, we are pleased to say Ubi's first attempt at this genre was a bloody success.
In the game, you play as Tom Hansen, a new Coast Guard officer dropped on a stranded ship in the Bering Sea. Immediately you discover the ship has been taken over by a new breed of monster, unearthed by a nearby oil rig. The monster, the ExoCel, is small, and, by itself, is easy to escape and causes little damage. However, it is able to infest the bodies of the ship's dead Russian crew, creating zombie-like creatures who want you dead. Your goal is to escape the ship and destroy the new breed of monster.
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As mentioned, we did have a few initial controller issues. As you make your way through the ship, you are in a very typical third-person view, complete with dictated camera angles reminiscent of all Resident Evil games predating Resident Evil 4. While in this view, you control your character's movement with one control stick. This had us worried, as most solid games of today allow for the accuracy of a character as controlled by two control sticks. However, this was taken care of by the ability to go into "Aim Mode". "Aim Mode" puts that camera right over your right shoulder, allowing you to see whatever is in front of you, readies you for a quick shot, and requires the use of dual control sticks for complete movement. Needless to say, we moved through the game almost entirely in "Aim Mode".
While Cold Fear was not the scariest game I have ever played, I am willing to say it was the bloodiest game I have ever played. Since the enemies you deal with are, for all intents and purposes, zombies, you must eliminate them as you would any video game zombie, and that means destroying its head. You can either shoot the head off, or, you can approach a downed zombie and stomp its head off (the sound effect of the latter are lovely). What's more, as you pass through the ship of dead Russians, you never know which motionless bodies are infected, so you never know which ones are going to jump out at you. It is for this reason that everytime you enter a new room, you must blast the head off every body you see. And, usually a head-blast splatters blood all over the room, and onto the camera through which you are watching.
The graphics of Cold Fear are fantastic, particularly those of the rough waters surrounding the ship. The sound is also great and completely does the job it's supposed to do. If I had to complain about the game, I'd say it lacks on the originality side of things (think Silent Hill on a boat), and it is a relatively short game.
Like Silent Hill, getting through the game is dependant on figuring out where to go next, and finding objects (keys, handles, etc.) to get there. Cold Fear definitely gets confusing when figuring out where to go, which is what you will spend most of your time doing. Playing through the game the second time, when I knew exactly where to go, and how to beat enemies, I'd say it took me only five or six hours to complete the game. That's, at least, half the time it took me to get through the game the first time around. So, with that being said, I'd definitely call this a fantastic rental. You will get through it in one or two rental periods, and, it really is a fun gaming experience.
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