Cold Winter Review

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Graphics: 8.0
Sound : 7.5
Gameplay : 8.0
Multiplayer : 8.5
Overall : 8.1
Review by Andy Levine
Cold Winter, Sierra’s latest first person shooter, delivers a solid single-player campaign with an immense replay value. Instead of focusing on complex objectives and time-consuming puzzles, you can simply expect a straightforward action packed game right from the beginning. Filled with loads of gore and profane language, this title is sure to satisfy anyone’s desire for destruction.

Cold Winter is extremely similar to any James Bond game; you are a former MI6 spy who must overcome security risks, hordes of enemies, and a mad man with a lust for gaining world power through nuclear weapons. While everyone and their mother has already heard of this scenario, the plot is developed through cinematics that are captivating with their vulgar language and prolific amounts of blood. As Andrew Sterling, you blast your way through enemy lines with an assortment of weapons, including pistols, machine guns, rifles, shotguns, and even accessible grenades. Whether you are low on ammo or you just want to bash some mercenaries, rifle butting and pistol whipping is sure to have a negative effect on your enemies. Characters can have different limbs blown off if your weapon is powerful enough, and this, combined with the exaggerated rag doll effect, can lead to some peculiar looking corpses. Ammunition, body armor, and special raw materials can all be found in crates scattered throughout the levels. A special item combination feature allows you to combine certain raw materials to make something useful, such as Molotov cocktails, lock picks, and time bombs. A good spy will use every available resource to his or her advantage, and this is no exception in Cold Winter.

Aside from using materials that can be scrounged up anywhere, you can also flip over desks and tables to be used for cover. The environments are loaded with interactive objects, and while it isn’t always necessary to hide behind a stack of crates to protect yourself, being creative with your tactics every once in a while feels rewarding. Nonetheless, if you receive heavy damage in a firefight there is no need to worry. Sterling always carries around a medical pack with him, which will restore his health completely if he can avoid enemy contact for about ten seconds. Ducking behind tables and using your medical pack is especially effective when being barraged with heavy artillery. Essentially, Cold Winter is analogous to any typical first-person console shooter.

Cold Winter isn’t filled with frills and gratuitous cut scenes to try and enhance its look, but instead it focuses more on a ‘run and shoot’ type of gameplay. You will be expected to complete primary objectives and optional secondary objectives to increase your mission score at the end of a level, but there isn’t much emphasis placed on completing tasks. Frequently, you will have to pick a lock or find a keycard, but most of the game is spent killing people.

Console shooters have always felt awkward when trying to aim with the dual analog setup, but Cold Winter allows you to crouch and zoom in for precision shooting when necessary for all of you sharpshooters out there. A majority of the gunfights involve enemies swarming you from all sides as you search for any form of protection to gather your thoughts and evaluate the situation. The mercenaries tend to group together afterwards, making it simple to plow down two or three guys with a light grenade toss. When exploring through buildings, the combat is more closely oriented, so keeping your guard up and using the powerful shotgun will help you succeed here. Scattered throughout the levels are important pieces of information that will improve your mission success rating once collected. While you can choose to read through pages and pages of Intel, the information isn’t necessary to complete the mission. Aiming for the head is highly recommended in any shooting game, but a few shots to the chest with any weapon is more than sufficient to leave your foes in a pool of their own blood. Regardless, you can expect a very direct and genuine single-player campaign in Cold Winter.

Visually speaking, Cold Winter is filled with massive explosions and detailed environments, but the average looking character and gun models could stand to use a makeover. In order for any shooter game to succeed, it must be overflowing with breathtaking explosions, and the fiery infernos displayed throughout Cold Winter satisfy this need. The textures aren’t high definition by any means, but the layout of the levels accompanied by realistic lighting effects overlook this problem. In addition, the character models are simplistic, and even worse are their animations. Simple hand motions, death sequences, and lip movements all seem out of place within the cinematics and during the action. Overall though, Cold Winter manages to distinguish itself above a handful of other console titles, but it is still far away from being beautiful or innovative.

Most of the audio effects sound dull and muffled on their own, but during intense firefights most of the bugs go unnoticed. Each gun carries its own unique sound, but they still differentiate only slightly between each other. Ambient sounds, such as the opening of doors and nearby footsteps, are poorly recorded, as are the voice talents. While the actors manage to use effective English accents, the professionalism of their voices is lost under all of the static. In the big scheme of things, the audio is still sufficient enough during heavy gunfights and moments of action, but the prevalent awkward moments of silence deteriorate the game in this sense.

The multiplayer portion of Cold Winter delivers a strong online and offline performance. Whether you prefer the four-player split screen action or the eight-player online experience, you can expect to see strong multiplayer elements here. The basic shooter game modes, including king of the hill, death match, and other team play modes can all be found across twelve distinct maps. The game still runs smoothly and the maps are just the right size to blend action with stealth. Even though there isn’t anything innovative here, the multiplayer mode is solid and won’t leave you with much to complain about.

In conclusion, Cold Winter for the PS2 has a forthright single-player campaign and a well-established multiplayer mode that leads to a memorable first-person shooter experience. By taking the most essential parts of any action game and combining them into one DVD, Cold Winter is a considerably engaging console shooter.