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Cold Winter Review

Developer: Swordfish Publisher: Vivendi Universal
Release Date: May 10, 2005 Also On: None

First person shooters are in endless supply on both the PlayStation 2 and Xbox platforms. The console first person shooter was popularized by GoldenEye on the N64. It not only revolutionized the genre, it put the genre on its current path of success. With next-generation consoles came Halo (PC and Xbox), Return to Castle Wolfenstein, and others. Cold Winter joins the long list of PS2 first person shooters.

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With so many participants in the genre, and so little innovation, it’s hard to cipher between the wades of limitless rehashes, sequels, and brain-dead AI infested fragfests. Fortunately, Cold Winter not only displays a powerful use of the PS2’s hardware with its physics engine, it’s also fun to play….for a few hours.

Let’s start with single player, where you’ll likely spend most of your time. Seven to ten hours of gameplay should be expected from the average gamer, fluctuating between low and high based on difficulty setting. If you include online multi-player, tack on a few extra hours worth of replay value (more on this later).

Andrew Sterling is the character you play as in Cold Winter. You’ll start in a prisoner detention in China. A member of the British MI6, instead of getting a royal rescue from James Bond, you’re left desperately praying for a reason to live. The British forget about your existence, but a girl you had saved earlier will incapacitate a guard, letting you out of your cell. Your job now is to escape the prison.

The entire game you play as Sterling. You’ll follow him from streets, to canyons, military complexes, and weapons facilities. There are also cut-scenes for both our friend Sterling, and a member of a secret organization, plotting a doomsday scenario. If you can follow the somewhat convoluted plot, you might enjoy yourself with the talk of nuclear fallout, that is, if you’re into the end of the world and all that good stuff.

As far as gameplay is concerned, Cold Winter may seem your run-of-the-mill shooter. Indeed, it plays like it is in many instances. How it differs becomes apparent as you play the game. The usefulness of some of these differences may be inconsequential to your overall experience. That’s the case with flipping nearly anything to use as cover. The enemy, however, can use the same tactics. The downside to this is that your screen becomes filled with command lines at the top.

For one, the enemy AI is tough, at times, and rational. If it weren’t for unlimited health kits (you read correctly) and body army, you’d be dying a lot. Add to that a relatively low damage infliction and you’ve got a nearly impossible killing machine. I should explain about the health kits, before you blow this off as invincibility. The process takes about 5-10 seconds in order to restore health, all the while being shot, you’re not going to survive. Body armor is picked up from dead bodies.

Enough talk about single player. Cold Winter has offline split-screen and online multi-player. The modes are your basics: Deathmatch, King of the Hill, Flag Tag, Domination, Last Man Standing, and Head Match. A quick rundown: Flag Tag has you capture a flag and hold on to it for as long as possible. Domination has you capture and defend certain points in a level. Last Man Standing, as one could assume from the title, is a free-for-all, winner’s the last alive shootout.

I encountered some lag with the online multi-player, but I can say the same for most Xbox Live games. My biggest gripe is with the obvious hiccups online, which lead you to believe you either killed someone, or that when you did die, you were never shot by a guy that was aiming in the opposite direction. At least there are a nice number of game modes and levels to select from. Just not a nice number of players to compete against.

If shooting people in Killzone, Halo, SOCOM, or XIII isn’t enough, Vivendi Universal’s Cold Winter will likely satisfy the shooting fans that play it. Swordfish, the developers, did a noble job with the storyline and cut-scenes, but the muffled voices through poor sound quality are a let-down. Overall though, my game experience was mostly positive. Cold Winter deserves at least a weekend rental, if not a cautious buy, when it drops in price.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 5
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 7.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 7.3
Written by Kyle Review Guide

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