Cold Winter

By Deane Barker on June 18, 2005

I got another free product in the mail the other day to review — a PS2 game called Cold Winter.

It was rated M (for Mature), but I’m not much of a gamer so I enlisted my 10-year-old son to play it with me.

It’s something of an espionage adventure that starts in a Chinese prison. You are Andrew Sterling, disavowed secret agent of some kind, and you have to fight your way out. I gather there’s a lot more after that, but we never found out (keep reading).

Cold Winter earned its M rating: in one of the first cut scenes, Sterling gets tortured and has his finger bent back until it breaks (yes, it’s as bad as it sounds). Thoughout the rest of the game, when he’s holding a pistol so you can see his hands on the screen, he flexes his left hand as if it’s still stiff from the break however many months ago. And when you get shot, there’s a lot blood. And…chunks. And then there’s the guy who gets killed sitting on the toilet, and just kind of slumps there. It’s not elegant.

Anyway, the storyline didn’t hold our interest so much, so we quit that and just went to two-player mode — you know, Capture the Flag and all that. It turns out that Cold Winter is a pretty good first person shooter.

It tends toward the realistic side of combat, rather than the cinematic. There are a lot of weapons to pick from, and they have realistic touches: you run really slow while carrying the rocket launcher (tough to do much but camp), and if you fire anything more than a short burst from the MP5, the recoil kicks it up so you’re shooting at nothing but air. The controls are good and, before long, we were running around blowing each other to smithereens for a couple of hours.

The gas grenades are the best part. You can lob one and seal off an area with poison gas. Your opponent can only wait until it dissipates enough to make a run through it (though I’m willing to bet there’s a gas mask in the game somewhere — we were two busy killing each other to bother looking).

If you get exposed to gas, your vision starts getting blurry and you may go down for the count, which makes you pretty picky as to whether you should risk making a run for it. (In fact, you can get shot in this game, but not die right away — you limp away from a fire fight only to lose too much blood and go down around the corner or something.)

There’s a poetic joy to trapping your opponent in some alley with a cloud of poisonous gas, then just firing rocket after rocket blindly into the cloud until he comes stumbling out.

Later, as we were cycling through the game options to play, we found an interesting one called “Headmatch.” It’s like the flag-based games where you get a point for every second or so you’re holding the flag. Except there’s no flag. It’s the “decapitated head of an unknown man.” Seriously.

When you start a headmatch, first you have to find the head, which could be anywhere. So me and the boy are running around the rooftops of some Morrocan town, looking for a decapitated head, which was pretty funny, actually.

He finds it first and yells, “I’ve got the head! I’ve got the head!” I tell him to wait so I can come over to look at it. Then I tell him to turn around so my guy can crouch down and look under it while he holds it aloft by its hair.

Then, suddenly, it hit me: I’m the worst parent ever.

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  1. Hey, yeah, I can definitely assure you your boy will hate you forever for letting him do stuff like that. Oh yeah, you should just put him up for adoption now.

    Now your wife, on the other hand… have your will in order, do you?

  2. Nah. Playing with your son, even if it’s a rated “M” game, is still better than those parents who beat their children.

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