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Cold Fear Xbox

Published by Ubisoft
Developed by Darkworks
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £39.99

Cold Fear, an introduction.

Survival horror games have consistently become more popular over the last few years or so. Once the genre was considered to be the sole property of the Resident Evil series. We've since become accustomed to regular releases in the Silent Hill series and games such as Project Zero and it's sequel to name but a few. Here we have the latest entrant into the survival horror genre, Cold Fear.

What's the game about?

You play Tom Hansen, a US Coast Guard. You've received a distress call from a large Russian whaler that's adrift in the middle of the Bering Sea. To make matters worse a storm is raging, although the storm is the least of your problems. Once aboard the Russian whaling ship you'll notice there are many problems to deal with that make the current storm you're enduring look insignificant. You'll have to deal with mutated, zombie-like enemies and scared Russians who are firing at everything in sight. Like other titles in the genre, you'll have to deal with your fair share of puzzles too although the ones you’ll find here aren’t anything too taxing.

What's good about the game?

Perhaps the biggest thing going for Cold Fear is its setting. The game manages to make you feel like you're in the middle of a storm, by various means, although thankfully it doesn’t manage to make you feel seasick. You feel like you are fighting against the elements because at times, when you are on the deck, it can be tricky to control Hansen. This phenomenon never manages to be annoying though (probably because you are never on the deck for that long) and adds to the atmosphere of the game. Mercifully you can switch to a first person view for aiming, by holding down the left trigger. In dark rooms this will also give you a light to help you find your way. There is a decent assortment of weapons here and most have a kind of laser sight to make aiming a fairly simple affair. The game has four difficulty modes ranging from the comfortable Easy to the unlockable Extreme difficulty mode so whatever your experience with games of this nature, there’s likely to be a difficulty mode that will challenge you.

What's not so good about the game?

My main gripe with the game is the problematic camera angles. Like most titles in this genre you’re stuck with an automatic camera that throws up some rather awkward view points and the transition between angles can be jarring at times. To some degree you can compensate for this by holding down the left trigger to go into a first person mode but this isn’t really an ideal solution. When in a dark room you can also use the first person view to illuminate your view, as we mentioned above. However, if you bump into a wall the light will face upwards and cause you to be disorientated. Although the game on the whole is enjoyable there are few memorable moment,s which seems strange when compared to the Silent Hill and Resident Evil games. Finally you have no map or other means of guiding yourself through the ship, other than your memory of course. This isn’t a major problem but it does mean you’ll be unnecessarily backtracking at times.

How does it look?

Cold Fear has about the same graphical quality as other recent titles in the genre such as the Resident Evil and Silent Hill games. Of course here you also have the added weather effects as you're tossed about in the middle of the ocean during a storm. The developers have certainly done a good job in making you believe you are in the midst of a storm as you have to contend with the rather harsh movements of the ship and the fierce waves crashing all around you. Whilst you're on the deck you’ll also notice the camera movements are more erratic and this also adds to the effect. Character models and textures are all very typical of a PlayStation 2 game and don’t really appear to take advantage of the Xbox hardware. That said though the game looks good enough and the frame rate remains fairly constant, although there are small amounts of slowdown whilst you are involved in combat on the deck of the ship.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

Subtitles can be enabled for Cold Fear and all things considered the game is deaf gamer friendly. Cutscenes are subtitled and as such you’ll be able to follow the games story. All communications with Hansen are shown in text and your objectives, which are also shown in text, can be recalled at any time. Tutorial messages, which appear in the form of documents that you pick up, are shown in text and can be re-read at any time. What I really like though is that everything that Hansen says is shown in text. If he tries to open a locked door, he’ll tell you that it’s locked. This may seem a small thing but it’s something that other developers often overlook when subtitling a game. Comments from other characters are also subtitled. Had audio captions been included this would have earned an ‘A’ rating for its deaf gamer friendliness.

Final thoughts.

Cold Fear might not be classed as one of the finest games in the survival horror genre but it’s a solid game that plays out rather well and fans of the genre should definitely pick it up. There’s nothing here that’s particularly innovative or exceptional though and some will think the game is pretty formulaic in its design. Although it is a by the book survival horror game, it’s still enjoyable and having the game set on ship in the middle of the storm certainly makes a change from walking around a zombie invested mansion or village. Best of all though the game is deaf gamer friendly, which is something you can’t say for other titles in the genre.


Overall Game Rating: 7.0/10

Deaf Gamers Classification

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Cold Fear is a solid addition to the survival horror genre. Whilst it's a good game though there's little here that's truly memorable.