By now there are more than enough games that throw you into an enclosed, labyrinthine and hostile environment. And there are plenty more that force you to puzzle out and complete your task while battling implacable, often rotting foes. But if the substance of Cold Fear is far from groundbreaking, its texture gives you something to think about.

The setting is a Russian whaling ship drifting on the ocean in a storm. This scenario is brought to life by the game's excellent graphics and physics. As the rusting hulk pitches on the rolling sea, your balance is lost and you struggle to walk and shoot straight. Out on deck it's easy to plunge into the sea as your vision is blurred by impressive rain effects.

Much of the gameplay involves finding your way around the ship. The doors don't stand out too well through the salt and the gloom, and you have to work hard to get anywhere. You also need to build up a decent mental map of the decks and corridors, or you'll find yourself going round in circles.

The realistic feel makes up for the slightly formulaic story: a scientific misadventure has produced a rather scary parasite that turns just about everyone into crazed zombies. These you must dutifully shoot your way through to rescue the good guys and halt the spread of evil.

Cold Fear certainly isn't the most challenging realisation of this post-Romero scenario - in fact, there are times when you'll feel spoon-fed by the plot. But the fact that the listing of the ship sometimes makes it tricky to shoot off those zombie heads goes some way to make up for this.

Cold Fear: Specs

  • 1GHz processor
  • Windows 2000/XP
  • 256MB RAM
  • 2.2GB hard disk space
  • 1GHz processor
  • Windows 2000/XP
  • 256MB RAM
  • 2.2GB hard disk space

OUR VERDICT

The plot and layout may not be the most imaginative, but there are some genuinely cinematic and scary moments here. These, along with the excellent effects, make this an engaging and at times thrilling shooter.

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