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Video Game / Cold Fear

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In a ferocious Arctic storm, distress signals are sent from a mysterious Russian whaler. As leading Coast Guard veteran Tom Hansen, you board to investigate — and discover unthinkable horrors lurking beneath the ship's bloodstained decks.

Cold Fear is a Survival Horror game developed by Darkworks for Xbox, GameCube, PlayStation 2, and PC. Originally intended as the fifth game in the Alone in the Dark series, the focus of the game was shifted early on in development to be an independent work. It was generally not-well received, and largely dismissed as a cash-in to Resident Evil 4, as it was released just a few months after and features similar combat mechanics. Other similarities include parasites that emerge from a zombie's neck after decapitation and a male protagonist with unusually pretty hair. Cold Fear is, however derivative, a respectable horror-action game in its own right.


This game provides examples of:

  • All There in the Manual: Towards the end of the game, Tom and Anna are both infected by Exocels and Tom has the choice of using the last antidote on himself or Anna. He chooses to save Anna, then passes out from the effects of the Exocel. In the next scene, Tom wakes up seemingly perfectly fine, and proceeds to perform the final mission and face the Final Boss before escaping the oil rig with Anna. There was actually supposed to be a gameplay segment where you played as Anna to retrieve a second antidote for Tom, but this was cut from the game, resulting in Tom's recovery seeming out of nowhere (though Anna saving Tom from the Exocel is obliquely referred to in dialogue).
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Tom will comment "This looks like the wrong way" if the player starts heading off-course from where they need to go.
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    • Saving takes the form of scripted checkpoints that occur right before a Difficulty Spike or That One Level. Chances are that if the player gets a Game Over, it's never too far away from the last save.
    • Tom gets 50% of his health back before the Final Boss so that the arduous fight is not rendered Unwinnable by arriving with low health.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Scraps of paper can be collected and read, and some of them fall under this trope. However, most are just handwaving or lampshading some aspects of gameplay ('proper precautions are not being taken with the handling and storage of barrels containing unstable chemicals', and so on).
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Kamsky in his mutated form.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Anishenko can survive quite a few more bullets than his men, enough to be considered a mini-boss fight.
  • Axe Before Entering: One of the zombies burst out of a locked room with a cleaver.
  • Badass Normal: Tom, who faces a whole horde of Russian soldiers, zombies and other grotesque mutation even with an Exocell inside his body. On the villainous side there's Anishenko, who despite being a human can take a lot of punishment before kicking the bucket.
  • Big Bad: Doctor Kamsky, the man behind the Exocel project.
    • The Starscream: Kamsky was a scientist who was essentially Shanghaied by the Russian Mafia into working on the Exocel proect. At least until he became obsessed with the Exocels and tries to unleash them upon the world For Science!.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Signs are posted around the whaling ship in Russian— being able to read them will make it easier to get around and know where you are.
    • The various Russian soldiers speak Russian, and Yusurov and Hansen have a brief talk in Russian before switching to English or the selected language.
  • Body Horror: From the half rotten zombies to the crawlers and the one-armed specimens, who all used to be people.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: The crawly four-legged things with the glowing yellow eyes. They're very fast, hard to track (especially since they shut off the lights when they appear), and can take a lot of damage before dying.
  • Bullfight Boss: Kamsky. Tom has to keep him from reaching Anna by calling attention to himself, then dodging his charge attack. Though this brings no harm to Kamsky himself, it's the one and only method for winning part one of the Final Boss.
  • Camera Abuse: Hell, this is half of the game. The 'camera' is often splattered with blood after a headshot (and this is the only way to permanently kill enemies), and when Tom goes out into the storm, the camera shakes about violently and gets smeared with rain, making it very difficult to aim.
  • Combat Tentacles: Exocel infectors attack by extending one of their 'legs' to Tom and somehow causing continual damage. Subverted with other specimens, as it's said that their tentacles are actually feelers.
  • Coup de Grâce: Tom can finish off a zombie that has been knocked over by stomping on its head.
  • Critical Hit: Tom can perform one via Press X to Not Die if an enemy grabs him.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: With remarkable and uncharacteristic restraint, the game doesn't dwell on it, but if you pay close attention it's mentioned that Hansen was involved in an incident in which his girlfriend was shot and killed as a result of his actions. This is suggested to be the reason for the rather large chip on his shoulder.
  • Deadly Dodging: How Kamsky is defeated during part two of the Boss Battle. Tom has to dodge his swipes up close and then let himself be captured to perform a Critical Hit, which is the only way to cause Kamsky any damage.
  • Dirty Commies: The zombies are caused by Russian research, and you're hunted by Russian mercenaries throughout - though, near the end, it's revealed that the CIA isn't much better either.
  • Do Not Run with a Gun: Tom moves slower while he is aiming. Played straight with the Russians, who don't move while aiming.
  • The Dragon: Anishenko.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The Underwater Base in the second half of the game.
  • Elite Zombie: Special mutants include crawlers that run on all fours and have lots of health, fast invisible mutants, and giant mutants that can only be damaged by shooting them in their enlarged arm.
  • Escort Mission: Anna. Mercifully short, too.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Kamsky really cares for his daughter Anna, but in his own twisted way: he saves her from cold waters only to have her infected by some Exocells so she can turn into an immortal monster like himself.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: All the other members of Tom's team are killed, off-screen, within moments of the beginning of the game.
  • Everything Fades: The bodies of Exocel zombies and other Exocel creature all dissolve several seconds after they are killed (the documents mention this is a side effect of the Exocel infection), while the bodies of human enemies remain where they are for the entire game, except in areas where it makes sense for them to disappear (such as the deck of the ship where they could easily fall overboard, or areas frequented by the cannibalistic Exocel hosts).
  • Evilutionary Biologist: This seems to have been Dr. Kamsky's motivation for unleashing the exocells and starting the whole mess.
  • Eye Scream: Tom is forced to go Minority Report on Anishenko to get past a retinal scanner.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Happens if the Final Boss captures Anna. The game freezes before we see what happens, and reboots itself back to the title screen in a quaint example of Non-Standard Game Over. Contrast with the many deaths of Tom.
  • Hand Cannon: The basic pistol looks and sounds like one of Resident Evil's magnums, and can explode a zombie's head. Once on the oil rig Tom can also get his hands on an M79 grenade launcher sawed-down to pistol size.
  • Harpoon Gun: The Speargun. The harpoons release a special gas that attracts all the Exocells in the area for a short time. Excellent when there are too many zombies at once on screen, or you need to avoid the invisible specimens.
  • Heal Thyself: Tom limps after getting severely injured. He can use healthpacks to instantly recover half of his health meter.
  • Hellish Pupils: Zombies have glowing reddish-orange eyes, and the crawling things have glowing yellow eyes.
  • Heel Realization: Yusupov seems to realize that messing with the exocels was a huge mistake, but by the time he realizes this it is too little too late as he has already been infected by the time Tom finds him.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: Subverted. The final weapon you can find in the game, after the flamethrower and grenade launcher, is the lowly MP5. It's essentially the same as the AK-47, but with a slightly smaller mag. However, the built-in flashlight means that it is the ideal weapon for killing invisible mutants and crawlers, at least in theory.
  • Irony: People have often pointed out how this game is similar to Resident Evil 4. Cue Resident Evil: Revelations, which is partly set on a dark ship with zombies roaming around, a giant one-armed specimen and has Elite Mooks who can turn invisible. Also, unlike previous Resident Evil games, Revelations allows you to move around while aiming/shooting, just like Cold Fear.
  • Invisibility Flicker: The invisible specimens become visible while approaching to Tom.
  • Jump Scare / Cat Scare: Played with throughout and even zig-zagged once. On the return trip through the morgue in the scientific module, there is a sudden loud hissing noise and all of the doors containing bodies are flung open. However, it seems like the morgue was completely empty, as no bodies are inside the freezer. Then Tom gets attacked by invisible zombies.
  • Karmic Death: Pavel, the researcher who saves Tom on the platform states in his journal that one of the "crawler specimens" was grinning at him, as if he wanted to eventually get him himself. And yes, he's actually killed by a Crawler.
  • Kill It with Fire: At one point Tom exits a door and comes face-to-face with a charging, screaming, flaming zombie.
    • Also, the flamethrower can be used (indoors) with great effect against zombies and crawlers. The big guys with the bloated arm and the invisible specimens seems to be resilient to it.
    • Exocel 'breeders' can only be killed by complete immolation. Otherwise, this trope is discouraged, as any items enemies are carrying will burn up with them.
  • Knife Nut: Most of the zombies are armed with large butcher knives.
  • Laser Sight: All guns, except for the grenade launcher, flamethrower and shotgun.
  • Last-Name Basis: NPCs usually call the main character 'Hansen', even when he is calling them by their first name.
  • Late to the Tragedy: Zig-zagged: the Marines show up late to the party and are all killed, then Tom's squad show up late to that party, then it turns out that quite a few Russians are still alive, revealing that Tom showed up while the party was still going on. In fact, Russian soldiers continue to appear on the ship right up until the ship crashes into the drilling platform.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: Tom leaves the rest of his team so he can check the rear of the ship for signs of life. Unusually, Tom survives while the others are all killed off in a matter of seconds.
  • Lightning Bruiser: The crawler enemies. Kamsky as well.
  • Locked Door: Over and over and over again.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: Anna.
  • Made of Iron: The bisected soldier you meet right before the first Exocel monster.
  • The Mafiya: The group funding the exocell research is a Russian criminal organization known only as "The Cartel". But they pretty much embody this trope to a T, engaging in smuggling and weapons sales and staffed by former members of the Russian military now working as mercenaries.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: Crawlers are capable of putting out lights by screaming.
  • Mêlée à Trois: The Russian mercs and Exocel monsters will fight each other as well as Tom.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: The Exocels, kind of. One of the documents that can be found says that they have a mishmash of DNA, including Mammalian, and they look like a bunch of rubbery tentacles moving around.
  • Mook Maker: The final stage of life for an exocel is the 'breeder' form, which is a writhing brown mass of tentacles stuck to a wall that spits out a new parasite every few seconds. The only way to kill them is incineration.
  • Nobody Poops: Subverted. That Russian soldier really had to go, if he was able to ignore the two corpses on the floor.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: Happens if Anna dies during the (extremely brief) escort mission: a short scene plays in which Tom watches Anna scream and fall, then he is attacked from behind by a zombie and killed. This scene will even play if you kill Anna yourself with friendly fire while no zombies are around.
    • Also, should the Final Boss get a hold of Anna, the game will promptly freeze and reboot itself back to the title screen.
  • Notice This:
    • Keys and ammunition generally sparkle to encourage you to pick them up.
    • Tom will also turn his head to look at important things, but it isn't as helpful as he'll also sometimes have his attention grabbed by nothing that the player can interact with.
  • Off with His Head!: The one and only way to make sure an exocel stays dead.
  • Ominous Walk: Zombies, usually, though sometimes they break into a charge for no apparent reason.
  • Orifice Invasion: How the Infectors get into a corpse. Tom himself is subject to this at the beginning of the second act on the platform, but thankfully he gets the antidote in time. However, he's infected again in the Habitation Module.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: At the beginning of the game Tom encounters what initially appears to be a traditional zombie, but it's actually just a dying crew member reactively searching for help. He's promptly killed by one of the real monsters, an exocel host, fast parasite-controlled human bodies armed with various weapons.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: The game was thoroughly eclipsed by the mega-blockbuster that was Resident Evil 4, to the point that many thought of Cold Fear as simply being a Resident Evil 4 rip-off (even though the two games' development cycles were so close together in time that it would have been highly unlikely for Cold Fear to have been able to steal any ideas from Resident Evil 4).
  • Papa Wolf: Kamsky, in a twisted, perverse way.
  • Peek-a-Boo Corpse: Who decided it would be a good idea to shove a decapitated corpse in the pantry??
  • Press X to Not Die: When an enemy grapples Tom, you have to quickly press the "action" button to fend him off. If you manage to fill the bar before your stamina runs out, you can even pull a lethal counterattack on the assailant.
  • Raising the Steaks: It's said that the Exocel were experimented on dogs and monkeys. You first meet the actual Exocel parasites when they jump out of the corpse of a disembowled orca, and later you can see some dead infected monkeys in a lab.
  • Rubber-Band A.I.: Sort of. Enemy corpses can be searched and will sometimes have ammo or a small healthpack to help you out. They will never give you ammo for a weapon that is fully loaded, so if you keep searching bodies you won't ever run out of ammo for your favorite weapon. It also seems like enemies who did a lot of damage before you killed them are more likely to drop a healthpack.
  • Save-Game Limits: Frustratingly so. There're are a total of 25 possible save points, which usually pop up before a cutscene or a major Difficulty Spike. However, several are scripted to certain doors or checkpoints, so there's always the chance you may waste a save point while exploring... which was meant to be used later on in accordance with plot developments.
  • Schizophrenic Difficulty: The second half of the game is a lot easier, because much more of it takes place indoors, there is almost no Camera Screw, and you aren't on board the ship, so your aim isn't swaying all over the place. On the other hand, new enemies will appear.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: The Shotgun is one of the weapons that has no laser sight, making it impossible to aim past short range.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: A single blast will knock a zombie down, making it trivially easy to blast his head off with the pistol. The spray of buckshot also makes it possible to decapitate multiple zombies with a single shot.
  • Sole Survivor: Tom is the only survivor of the Coast Guard team that boards teh ship, the creatures wipe out everyone else in not even a minute.
  • Spring-Loaded Corpse: Subverted— the floating dead guy in the cold storage seems to jump at you, but it turns out to just be a muscle reflex. Later played straight when you finally track down the Captain.
  • Sprint Meter: Slowly drains down while Tom is running, but also while he is grappling with a zombie in close combat or hanging from a ledge.
  • Tactical Suicide Boss: The only thing that damages the final boss is the escape move you do when you break out of his grab attack. If he never used his grab move on you, he could just kick you to death.
  • Technically Living Zombie: They're just normal humans with parasites in their brains. It's actually hinted that it could be possible to destroy the parasite without killing the host. However, it is also said that an Exocel can reanimate a deceased corpse with ease, so yup, most of them are dead puppets.
    • A document mentions an anti-Exocel antidote, but it must be taken before the Exocel infector reach the brain with his tentacles.
    • Documents indicate that the Elite Zombie aren't part of the normal Exocel life cycle, but rather are test subjects who were given an imperfect version of the antidote; it prevents the Exocels from taking them over completely, but still drives them insane and mutates them into monsters.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Reading the various journals and documents will tell you about Russian soldiers shooting highly explosive machinery out of boredom or another one who got electrocuted after shooting an electrical station.
  • Transhuman Treachery: This seems to be Kamsky's motivation. He perfected a version of the antidote which would completely prevent the exocel from entering or altering his mind, but would still cause it to physically mutate him into a superhuman creature. Unfortunately, Kamsky was already plenty crazy even without an exocel in him (you'd have to be pretty nuts to want to mutate yourself into a 20-foot supermutant, let alone doing so as Phase I of mutating the world).
  • Underwater Base: Featured during the game's second half. Elaborate, too.
  • Unique Enemy: You meet a few zombies capable of using firearms in one room of the ship, and never seem to encounter them again for the rest of the game.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: Very early on the Russians start using MP5 submachine guns, but looting the bodies will just give you a tiny amount of pistol ammo. The actual MP5 can be picked up later on.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Most of the specimens on the drilling platform.
    • The fearsome crawlers are afraid of bright lights.
    • The huge 'asymmetrical specimens' have one massive muscular arm that they will use to smash your skull in; that same enormous muscular arm is also their only vulnerable point.
  • Womb Level: The Habitation Module.
  • Your Head A-Splode: The bad news is, the only way to kill a zombie is to completely destroy the brain. The good news is, a single bullet from any gun or a stomp will cause severe cranial existence failure.


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