Game Over Online ~ In Cold Blood

GameOver Game Reviews - In Cold Blood (c) Ubisoft, Reviewed by - Pseudo Nim

Game & Publisher In Cold Blood (c) Ubisoft
System Requirements Windows 9x, Pentium II-233, 32MB Ram, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 85%
Date Published Tuesday, November 21st, 2000 at 07:45 PM

Divider Left By: Pseudo Nim Divider Right

Good adventure games are always fun to come by. It seems like the genre's taken a bit of a beating of late, since all we see are either FPS games, racing games, strategy games, RPG games, or mixes thereof. Maybe it's because it takes a lot more work to make a good adventure game, since it requires a lot of planning and expertise, especially when it comes to puzzles. So because of that, it's nice to come across a game that breaks through the barriers of red tape to deliver a neat little Bond-like experience without the multibillion-dollar license.

In Cold Blood is structured like a spy flick, complete with a monosyllabic character named Cord, John Cord. He doesn't quite act as his bigger-named monosyllabic comrade, but he is also British (though his British accent isn't quite as British as you would want it to be), and he also finds himself in the most arcane of situations, pitted up against entire armies and with nothing but a few gadgets to keep him company.

The game begins when you have to go into a heavily fortified military facility to extract your hapless comrade, Kiefer, who, despite the Germanic-sounding name, is actually an American. The base is located in some strange little republic situated between China and Russia, and everyone in it speaks English, but with a very strong Slavic accent. Your task is (I suppose it's fairly obvious) to get in, get Kiefer, get out alive. However, the twist is that everything is actually being told as a retrospect, and from the interjecting movies it appears as if you were actually captured at some future point of the game, and you don't actually know whether you'll get to the point where you were captured and then do bad evil things to your captors, or if the truth drug gets the better of you, they make you spill the info, and then dispose of your (now useless) shell.

As you progress through the game, you will find yourself doing most of the usual things you expect to be doing in an adventure game, such as fiddling with items (examining, combining, using); talking to some people; killing other people and so forth. Since this game sports action elements à la Tomb Raider, you use the keyboard to control character movement, rather than point and click with a mouse. This has the awkward Crusader effect, as I call it: it stems from the good old Crusader: No Remorse and No Regret games (which were excellent, just so that the record is straight). What happens is that your character doesn't always move in quite the way that you expect him to move. You will run+turn, and you'll end up running into a wall instead of a staircase or a door. Then you'll try to turn around, and get even more confused. You get used to it after a while, though, and learn to just stop and calmly readjust your bearings and start moving again. Another issue with control is how the gun is fired: after looking at some other impressions on the Web, I have come to the conclusion that people misinterpret how the gun fires. Perhaps they expect that they actually need to aim - but they do not. The game auto-aims the gun for you, as long as you are within line of sight. That last note is what makes shooting a little bit hard, however. Since the game is played from a static camera perspective, sometimes it's very hard to judge exactly how far you are from a barrel or a box that you should be hiding behind. This works the other way, too: since you often can't judge how *close* you are to the said box, it's a bit hard to properly back out of your shelter to sneak up on the enemy.

A major plus that I must mention for this game is level load/savegame save/load times. They are all virtually instantaneous. Saving takes no time whatsoever, and neither does loading. Going from room to room is extremely snappy as well, and it just doesn't feel like anything loads anywhere - which is rare in these troubled gaming times, and is worthy of notice.

Another complaint (though this goes perfectly in tune with Bond movies, so maybe it's actually being true to style) is that the designers pretend that the occasional monitors you notice in the first military base (for example) are written in Russian. Well, they are not. I have looked into this, and it turns out that the screen (as seen in the screenshot) just has gibberish letters, sort of as if the Russians made a game where displays said WQAFEN1GN instead of WARNING. It's lame when background research is not done. I think it would not have been troublesome at all for them to get someone to write out the letters for them so that they appeared authentic - plus it would be fun, if you spoke Russian, to see some familiar letters, and maybe even have a bit of a laugh as you penetrate its security systems. There was this game some time ago (back when FMV games were "in", and everybody was making them left and right) called Spycraft: the Great Game. In that game, you were also a spy sent to Russia. It boasted some interesting background talent, including ex-high-ranking KGB and CIA officers. But all the Russians in the game spoke no Russian whatsoever (the game was subtitled, so you really couldn't tell if you didn't speak Russian). A friend of mine wasn't particularly happy about that, and I can understand him.

The sound effects in the game are fairly normal (i.e. nothing to rave about, and nothing to swear about), but the music is a bit odd. Whenever something "big" is about to happen, there will be a sudden gust of spooky music, but once the "moment" is over, silence descends again. Then a short interlude again… and a silence. Quite strange. I'm not sure if it helps the atmosphere or not. I think it would've been a little bit more engrossing if there was music at all times, and it just artfully changed into a more intense, bone-chilling tune, and then changed right back. Perhaps like in Baldur's Gate, or in some other games that have done that very well.

Last but not least are the graphics. The game only runs in 640x480, which is slightly unfortunate, but, on the other hand, it's not an action game, and so doesn't really need much screen real estate. The backgrounds are extremely well-rendered, and the animated cutscenes are quite nice, too. The character models are a little bit fishy under some camera angles, but in general are quite passable, to say the least.

That having been said, this is still quite a good game, and not because it's in a genre which is pretty wanting in terms of new arrivals. It's fun to play, it's based on a somewhat cliché story that we all like (though I don't think you get to drive any BMW 750s using Nokia cell phones - if you ask me, that's actually a good thing). It has a very solid story which actually makes sense, a good atmosphere, and very good graphics. Definitely a recommended title.


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