You know, I've just about had it with these console ports that redefine how low the human race can sink. Cold Fear isn't among the worst offenders, and in fact there is a review of one of the worst console ports in history coming up this week later on, but it sure is bad. It's really a pity, too, because the game has so much going for it: Great graphics, an interesting premise about an abandoned Russian â€œghost shipâ€ in a hurricane storm, and a lot of polish with minimal bugs or crashes. The biggest problems we find within are just the boring, rehashed Resident Evil gameplay standards, and a lot of heinously bad design decisions that should have been cut before a line of code was ever written.
First off, we'll talk about the good. The graphics are beautiful, and not so much in that the textures are high quality or the models are especially well done â€“ They aren't. It's the way the game uses light, shadowing, and shaders to create a dark and foreboding sense of ambience, while at the same time throwing a hurricane force storm at you while you try to navigate the tossing deck and bowels of a whaling ship. The story's premise, as mentioned above, is nebulous and actually interesting at first (in the sense that it's a whaling ship being tossed about in a hurricane at night), but unfortunately it involves the typical Resident Evil zombies right from the start. 'Swat team goes in, swat team gets massacred, coast guard cutter with a bunch of wimps shows up, they get massacred, one guy with a pistol survives and has to find out what's going on.' Sigh. The people who pen garbage like this are the people who can't get a job in Hollywood. Gaming really does get the rejects.
Well, with the â€œhighlightsâ€ out of the way, it's time to pound the game into the ground in relation to the idiotic design flaws. First off, we've got the camera. While an offset 3rd person camera might be great for an adventure game without shoot-em-up action, this is not that game. True, you can zoom in for a â€œ2nd personâ€ over-the-shoulder look with a laser sight to aim with, but this is buggy and doesn't really work well. Theoretically, right-clicking the mouse once should lock that mode on, and right-clicking once again should remove it, but since the game also considers holding the right-mouse button a valid type of aim strategy (as in 'hold to aim, let off to stop'), I found myself constantly trying to go into that mode to aim with a click and clicking it just a tiny bit too long which the game decided was a 'hold aim' and so went into aim mode for a split second and went back. Totally lame. This screwed me up in gun battles (and the preparation for gun battles) more than I possibly could have imagined. What's worse, the world is truly in 3D, and not this quasi-3D pre-rendered crap that has perpetuated retarded RE knockoffs like Dino Crisis and that laughable Alone in the Dark game, and so being forced into a pre-set viewpoint, without any option for true first person (which would help immensely with the fear and immersion) is just idiotic. Take a look at the video that goes with the review to see how I became trapped in a tiny room simply because the game doesn't have a workable flashlight. It's truly maddening.
The other primary thing I've got to nail is the repetitive, rehashed gameplay. Very little about Cold Fear is scary in the end, and soon you'll just be searching for keycards, diary notes, and clues to what happened. Quite frankly, I found myself not caring. The story doesn't stay compelling enough to make me want to play it all the way through, and the action scenes, a staple of the gameplay, are boring and typical of the Resident Evil clone that it is. It barely even earned its â€œMâ€ rating, as though there is blood here, and you can shoot heads off, that's about all there is. You can't shoot limbs off, there is very little gun feedback (not nearly as much as there was in RE4), and generally the game just feels shallow and bland. Been there, done that, don't care. Oh, and the lack of a real save system is just the icing on the cake. I played the opening section the first time and was actually having a good time until I ran into a beautiful bug about 20 minutes into the game that caused me to die before I had reached a save point. I won't spoil it for you, because you might run into it as well, and if I warned you ahead of time that wouldn't be sporting, now would it?
Maybe changing some of these things would be bad ideas for the console version of the game, but when you port said game to the PC all bets are off: You do what we want, not what console owners want, or we simply won't buy it. Hell, I wouldn't even download this waste of a game if I was a software pirate, so please don't use the â€œwarezâ€ cop-out as an excuse for poor sales. Some games are just garbage, and PC gamers are quick to pick up on what is crap and what rules. Send a message to Ubisoft: Buy Splinter Cell : Chaos Theory instead, an incredible example of a game that is great no matter what system it's on, and a series that has always had developers dedicated to making sure the PC port had the appropriate controls and graphical upgrades its users demanded. With Cold Fear, they didn't, so don't buy it. Just... don't.
Here is a video of the reviewer playing the game, quite short and funny.