If Cold Winter were a movie
If Cold Winter were a movie, it would be a Hollywood Action flick with an obvious plot line and lots of explosions. Like James Bond, but with the added bonus of not having Pierce Brosnan mincing about the screen delivering one liners with the skill of a retarded monkey. What more could you ask for really? The folks at Vivendi have produced a solid, enjoyable if perhaps slightly clichéd First Person Shooter that will rival, if not better, most FPS games available for the Playstation2.
Cold Winter sees you take the role of ex MI6 agent Andrew Sterling. Sterling is quite refreshingly different from your standard hero. He’s a bit older than you might expect and visibly greying. And he’s one to speak his mind as well. Healthy lashings of profanities are thrown in for good measure, delivered with the subtlety of a cricket bat in the face. You join Sterling in a prison cell in China and watch as he gets “roughed up” a bit by his hosts. Naturally he is freed by an attractive young lady (Kim) whom Sterling will spend most missions liaising with. Once out of the prison, he finds himself indebted for the rescue to Dan Parish, an old friend. And the story progresses from here as Dan sends him out on an array of dangerous jobs.
Game play is interspersed with lengthy cut scenes. The theme of the game is very much a re-hashed old story of naughty businessmen and terrorists looking to hold the world to ransom, mixed in with a bit of Cold War-Esq sub-plot. Even the title leaves little to the imagination. What makes this strangely compelling though is the dialogue and narrative. Sterling has a great British secret agent accent and persona that is very believable. And the long historical narratives are done by the same person that voiced over for the Little Britain comedy series. Their delivery really enhances the game and allows you to understand a bit more behind your blood spattered gung ho endeavours.
The rag doll physics really do add a whole new dimension to game play the likes of which have not often, if ever graced the PS2. When you shoot an enemy, they react brilliantly, often falling in painful looking contortions depending on the number of hot lead rounds generously pumped into them. Watching a terrorist come running around a corner only to fall prey to your brilliantly executed grenade throw is something else. Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of this feature however is the head shots. I found staring through a scope at a distant target while pulling the trigger worryingly enjoyable. The heads on Cold Winter seem to be modelled on watermelons, and certainly behave in the same way when shot.
Another great aspect of the game is the interactive environment. All manner of objects can be picked up, dragged or thrown in order to create cover or just release tension. And objects can also be collected to combine and create new explosives or tools. While much vaunted, this aspect adds little to the gameplay as the combinations are fairly limited and take no skill to create. Dead enemies can also be searched, and Sterling is kept alive by the fact that he can nick their armour. As long as you don’t have an issue with stealing the clothes off a dead man, you’ll use this tactic constantly.
Structure wise, Cold Winter is very formulaic. The missions are all along the same line and do not change in their objectives more than to shoot lots of bad people and make it to way-points. It plays largely as a paint by numbers game. Little is left to chance, for example: I found a hut that I needed to get into was locked. Fortunately for me somebody had left a note outside mentioning a rather large hole in the roof. Problem solved. The game is full of these little tips, some less subtle than others, but none needing too much in the way of a basic human brain to figure out.
But to slate Cold Winter for these little points is being unfair. Cold Winter is a First Person Shooter, and as such delivers the concept very well. Sure, the story isn’t likely to reach number one if released as a novel, but the characters and in particular the rag doll physics, make this a very playable and enjoyable experience. Coupled with the online and multiplayer options, Vienna ensures that you won’t be tossing this title aside in a hurry. For stress relief alone, Cold Winter is well worth a good look. If you fancy yourself as a bit of James Bond, but would rather associate yourself as a Roger Moore with Tourette’s than a Pierce Brosnan then get this game. If not for that, then get it for the watermelon effect mentioned earlier. As for me, I’m off to seek professional help.