Video Game Review: “Cold Fear”

Cold Fear is a 2005 survival horror video game developed by Darkworks and published by Ubisoft for PlayStation 2, Xbox and Microsoft Windows. I decided to review Cold Fear for a number of reasons which are the same reason for why I decided to buy it in the first place. A lot almost immediately drew comparisons for Cold Fear with several different installments in the Resident Evil franchise because of the its visuals as well as some of the themes that it has within it. I didn’t really expect to walk out feeling like I had finished Resident Evil 4 but I at least hoped for a solid experience. Notably, Cold Fear is the first horror game Ubisoft ever attempted and because of the mixed reception it received from critics as well as the bad sales that it had, it seems fair to assume that they won’t be looking to try it again in the near future.

The experience follows Tom Hansen, a member of the United States Coast Guard, who comes looking to assist and aid a Russian ‘whaler’ only to find a mysterious virus has broken out and turned the crew into various forms of ‘zombie’ like creatures. This is one of the reasons that individuals drew comparisons to Resident Evil and for what it’s worth, I completely understand the comparisons. If there is one thing that I appreciate them for borrowing off Resident Evil, I think that it’s the over-the-shoulder view. I only wish that they would have incorporated it more consistently. Cold Fear incorporates a whole lot of cinematic camera changes which don’t really do a whole lot to add to the experience but instead serve as a nuisance. The fact that I can barely move the stick by mistake and throw the entire experience into complete mayhem is a little frustrating.

Exploration is difficult when you consider that there is no map to help you out on your ways. I feel like in a lot of ways, the lack of a map exasperates a lot of the various mistakes that are made in the whole experience. I could have likely overlooked the repetitive visuals hadn’t it been for the map. Instead, I am left ranting and raving about how one building looks exactly like the other. If I would have had a map to help me distinguish one area from the next I wouldn’t have walked out thinking that the graphics were lazily slopped together. Unfortunately, that is what I walked out thinking.

The voice-acting and characters don’t really matter much at all whatsoever and in-fact are completely disposeable. Horror hasn’t always been the domain for tremendous characters. Silent Hill likes to incorporate an ‘every man’ type-character in an effort to make it easier to relate to their situation whereas Resident Evil has often been plagued with terrible voice-acting. Cold Fear has a combination of that, but it doesn’t have the ability to work around it or lessen the impact it has on the overall experience.

I mean, there isn’t a whole lot of anything to say about Cold Fear. In-fact, a lot of what I have to say about the experience isn’t even actually criticisms. I don’t have a whole lot of criticisms about it. I mean if I would hold a controller and browse through it for about an hour I would likely say that it’s another so-so experience for the collection. But Cold Fear doesn’t even really succeed at being that. I think that I would have appreciated cheesy scares or over-the-top antics when it really comes down to it. All that I have with Cold Fear is a second-rate feeling and an immense feeling of boredom. Cold Fear doesn’t do anything, the comparisons with Resident Evil are justifiable from certain standpoints but the difference is that Resident Evil incorporates puzzles and conductive problem-solving. Cold Fear incorporates a feeling of ‘do this’ and ‘do that’ which would be fine if the endgame wasn’t meant to make an entertaining experience. The total experience over the ordeal is microscopic as well. I finished it off in less than six-hours and I have a feeling that somebody more proficient could finish it off in even less than that. And the whole experience seemed to drag on and on.

Like I said, I didn’t buy Cold Fear looking for a tremendous survival-horror video game because odds are I would have heard of it before now and not because I found it in a store and it looked fun. I didn’t expect it to be anything more than a halfway decent experience with a certain amount of enjoyability (an experience slightly less than DarkSector perhaps?) but that isn’t what I ended up with. Cold Fear is dreary and desolate but highly mundane and uneventful. I walked out of it without any impressions whatsoever and because of that I can’t really think to say whether I liked it or hated it. I can say that I don’t recommend it.

Thanks for reading…

Rating: 2.4 out of 5.0