Cold Zero - The Last Stand Review

Standing around in the cold doesn't sound too appealing to us, especially when it's your last stand.

Review by Tracy Bosworth
Published 20th October 2003

Cold Zero - The Last Stand

  • Developer: DRAGO Entertainment
  • Publisher: Koch Media
  • Release Date: 5th September 2003

The story of Cold Zero centres around a man named John McAffrey, a former SWAT sniper who foolishly tried to become the hero during a hostage situation. Ignoring the “hold fire” command, McAffrey took a shot at the enemy and ended up killing the hostage, ultimately ending his career.

Trying to take his life into a new direction, McAffrey tries to set up his own private detective business but due to his past he finds it increasingly difficult to make ends meet and ends up working for the mob.

You start the game in a run down office with only your secretary, Jane for company. You have do have a gun but unfortunately, no ammo (there’s always a catch!). Thankfully you do have a little cash in order for you to go down to the local weapons shop and buy some ammo along with anything else that may catch your eye, I personally recommend the bullet proof vest and health packs but that’s just me! Your character is moved in a traditional ‘point and click’ style similar to that found in classic RPGs. The mouse pointer changes with various situations to inform you of your options, for instance holding the pointer over a door will turn the pointer into a hand enabling you to open the door and holding the pointer over a person will present you with an animated mouth icon enabling you to communicate with the characters in the game.

Movement is a little restricted, John cant jump and can only climb certain things in which the game decides to make ‘climbable‘. Although it’s mostly impossible to pull off successfully, Stealth plays an important role in the gameplay and thankfully John has many variations available to him. Firstly there are a number of movement options available such as ‘creep’, ‘cautious walk’, ‘walk’ and ‘run’. John is also able to hide under objects, destroy light sources and shoot from behind objects.

Enemies are equipped with decent AI and extremely good hearing, load a gun a few feet away from a guard and expect him to become alerted to your presence. Anything out of place such as dead bodies will alert enemies to the fact that someone is there who shouldn’t be and they will begin a search for the culprit, thankfully John is able to pick up bodies and hide them as well as shoot out lights to minimise his visual presence. Whilst frustrating slow, ‘sneak’ mode is discreet enough to allow you to move from place to place unnoticed as long as you keep out of direct view, sneak mode also allows players to get very close to enemies whilst their backs are turned however if they do see you, you notice a little flaw in the AI, they run to get help yet once they reach their comrades they seemingly ‘forget’ what is was they wanted and just carry on patrolling where they are leaving you much more space to move around.

There are a number of weapons available from the baseball bat to the machine gun and there are a few ways of picking these toys up. One way is to simply go to the shop and buy them; another way is the classic RPG way of stealing them from the bodies you have left. Choosing what you want to carry is an important part of the game as the heavier your load, the more your movement is restricted and the slower and less agile you become however improving your strength points will improve your ability to carry a heavier load.

The camera system allows players full control over what they see, using the middle mouse button or wheel players can zoom in or out of the picture. The camera can also be tilted, rotated and locked into place although the camera will not perform anything automatically which can become frustrating, especially when you turn around and the camera stays put, forcing players to sort out the camera angle before proceeding.

Unfortunately, variety is not up to scratch in the overall game, Characters all seem to look, dress and speak the same and even say the same things as everyone else. Each mission tends to consist of non stop shooting thanks to the poor ‘stealth’ modes meaning that you will probably see your character on the floor dead more often than you see him walking around leading to the frustrating loading pages and cut-scenes.

Other problems in the game include the poor firing system, targeting is non-existent so although you may miss a clear shot when an enemy is within touching distance you may well hit a guard from a long distance away. Enemies seem to be able to shoot through walls and other objects and never seem to miss their target.

Graphics are one of the games strong points, environments are attractive and varied and objects within these environments are highly detailed. Character animation is a little robotic and we did notice that characters, including our own happily walked through walls and doors however the characters surroundings are fairly interactive allowing players to move, blow up and break things.

The game's audio is good from the music that changes to reflect the situation to the various sound affects such as weather, guns and footsteps. Voice acting however isn’t so good, many characters within the game are clearly done by the same actor and others just seem very unrealistic.

Cold Zero could have been a great game, the plot was there, and the ideas were there however the game is plagued by some many problems that the ideas seem somewhat lost in the repetitive gun fights. For instance, the ability to fix broken weapons seems pointless when new weapons are readily available; the ability to pick locks is pretty silly when the keys are always nearby.

Although the game certainly has its good points I would expect that only fans of the actual game will slog it out to last level, the others will quickly become bored of the shooting and begin to wonder what else the game has to offer which is sadly, nothing.

Review Score: 7.6/10

Please note, this review was scored using our old system. For more information please see our review policy.

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