We board a drifting Russian whaling ship to check out PS2 and Xbox versions of Darkworks' upcoming action game.
Currently scheduled for release later this month, Cold Fear is a horror-themed action game in which you'll assume the role of an officer in the US Coast Guard investigating a Russian whaling ship that's adrift on the Bering Sea. We recently received almost-finished PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions of the game (a PC version is also in development) and are pleased to report that we've found it to be an enjoyable and quite challenging experience thus far. Cold Fear has more than a few things in common with games like Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Resident Evil 4, which, if you've played either of them, you'll know is certainly not a bad thing.
The most obvious thing that Cold Fear has in common with Sons of Liberty, of course, is that you'll be spending all of your time early in the game on board a ship. What makes the ship in Cold Fear a more realistic and terrifying prospect, though, is the fact that it's caught up in a seemingly never-ending storm that rocks it from side to side, causes waves to crash onto the deck, and forces you to play the game looking through a screen that, at times, really does look like it's having buckets of water thrown at it. Graphically then, the stormy seas are very convincing, but what's really great is the impact that the adverse weather conditions have on the gameplay.
Your character, Tom Hansen, is very good at keeping his footing when things get choppy up on deck, but even he will occasionally get caught out by more violent waves, causing him to fall to the ground and slide along the floor until he's able to get back on his feet or he bumps into something. On one occasion we actually ended up clinging to the side of the ship for dear life after Hansen slid toward one of the few areas of the deck that wasn't enclosed by a handrail. You'll be able to grab onto handrails with a single button press, incidentally, but you'll rarely get much warning when a giant wave is about to hit. Losing your footing isn't the only thing you'll have to worry about on the deck of the whaling ship, as Hansen will lose health if he's hit by a wave when close to the deck's edge. You'll also have to keep an eye out for large hooks and such hanging from the ship's rigging and swinging like deadly pendulums as the whole boat pitches and rolls.
It's not surprising then, that one of your first goals in Cold Fear is to find a way into and explore the ship's interior, which is made tricky by the fact that so many of the doors on board are locked, stuck, missing a handle, or require an access code at the start of the game. Most of the puzzles (if you can even call them that) that we've encountered, in fact, amount to little more than key and lock affairs that slowly afforded us access to more interesting and often more dangerous areas of the labyrinth-like vessel. The sheer number of locked doors can make things a little frustrating early on, especially since there's no map for you to look at. Your perseverance will pay off, though, when, after a couple of hours or so, you're able to stroll around new areas without any fear of getting lost. If your sense of direction isn't so great, you'll be pleased to hear that Hansen is fluent in Russian, which allows him to read directions on the walls when you look at them. Hansen will also say things to himself like, "This looks like the wrong way" or "I think it must be up these stairs," when you're wandering around looking for a specific area or object.
- Release Date: May 17, 2005 (US)
- Release Date: Mar 15, 2005 (US)