OK, quick run-down. Cold Fear is survival horror, done by Ubisoft (same crew that did the Prince of Persia games, which is one reason why I was willing to give it a shot). Short version of the story is this: you are Tom Hansen, a member of the Coast Guard, checking out an an abandoned Russian ship, 165 miles off the coast. The intro movie shows a SWAT team going on board and getting taken out pretty quick, and whoever is controlling them calls for the nearest available people to handle this. Now, excuse me, but if the armed and armoured SWAT dogs can't handle this, why is my pistol-carryin' and flotation-vest-wearin' ass going onboard?!?
Anyway, it appears that these guys are connected to an oil rig that was abandoned, bought, and refurbished, and they found and brought up some odd creatures that like to get into your body, send a tendril up to your brain, and make you into a mindless killing machine. Pretty shoddy storyline, really...what are these things doing so far underground, and how did they get along before having us to fuck with? Ah well. Anyway, I'm guessing there are some on the ship, and we gotta handle the sitch to get out alive.
Positive points; game looks fabulous. Pretty and atmospheric without the uber-reality of Doom 3, which, frankly, just got in the way half the time. Hell, rain and blood even occasionally "splash" onto the screen. Speaking of rain, when you are outside on the decks, that rain on the screen makes it a little harder to see...which makes sense. Also, the fact that you are on a ship is not left to the imagination: the damn thing rolls and pitches in the storm, making your footing dangerous...and woe be to you if a wave should crash over the sides, pulling you towards a bit of broken railing...you may be in the drink before you know it. Even inside, the swaying of the walls keeps you grounded as to your situation.
On the negative side, the controls are a tad annoying. The main gameplay is handled in a third-person view, but suffers from the Resident Evil effect of odd camera angles for each room. Even when you're walking and the camera is following, it may change angle when you go around a corner. Thankfully, a quick button-push puts you in "second-person" view, which drops the camera to right behind your right shoulder, as you go to a gun-out aiming stance. The up side to this is that you have a laser sight, and with the pistol, you have a flashlight. The downside is that your head is still in the way of anything close up, and you may easily blow a lot of ammo, trying to aim at something you can't really see while it's standing in front of you, slashing you to ribbons.
Speaking of controls, when you are in that "aiming" mode, controls work like a normal FPS: forward/back, strafe left/right, mouse look. When not, they are much more console-run-around (up/down/left/right), which, combined with the odd camera, will bug you, especially at scene changes.
Other things to note:
- You can't pick up ammo for a gun you don't have; realistic (why would you?) but annoying when you finally get the thing and need that ammo.
- Having no map makes running around a bit tedious, especially when you go through a door to find it's locked from the side you just came from...which makes no sense.
- Most annoying of all: no user saves. Occasionally, at certain points, it'll ask you if you want to save, but beyond that, you're on your own...which means if you die, you may have a LOT of replay to go through.
So, overall first impressions? Dark, bleak, a little vicious; has it's problems, which will keep it from taking any awards, but has enough potential to keep me playing for now.