Not one for sea-sickness sufferers, this. Hop up onto the deck of your zombie-infested whaler ship and the screen shunts back and forth like an electified wrinkly in a rocking chair. Creep along the starboard (see, we know all the lingo) and you're showered by waves the size of a holy sneeze. Cold Fear's nautically-themed gameplay certainly knows how to unsettle a sensitive gut or two and it does it in such an inventive manner that such 'horror-game' staples as splurged intestines are rarely the chief instigators.
Best described as Under Siege meets Resident Evil, this survival horror's sea setting means you'll need a pack of travel sickness tablets to get stuck in. It's got zombies of the mega-speedy 28 Days Later variety; it's got hideous sea mutants that resemble The Suffering's mainliners; and it's got some of the rock-hardest combat endured since an office game of paintball climaxed in blood-caked disaster last Christmas.
You play as the unlikeliest of heroes, a minimum-wage coastguard with a penchant for AK47s and flamethrowers. Where he acquired his firearm skills is one mystery, why he was sent in to investigate a mysterious ship after the Navy SEALS an even bigger one. And his one-man battle against armies of Russian mercenaries and amphibious horrors results in tactical shoot-outs that make Silent Hill 4's clunky battering with golf clubs appear even more dated. There's an over-the-shoulder camera for furious blasting, plus the more traditional Code Veronica-esque view for general exploration. Which is kinda what you'd expect, really.
The potential downside is the lack of an auto-targeting aim. With zombies requiring headshots to die (cue exaggerated explosions of gore), the fighting can feel unnecessarily fiddly and frantic as you try to line-up that fatal shot. Fortunately, grounded foes are susceptible to a stamping boot, which is ideal for anyone who picks up their tricks watching Millwall. And it also makes for some rather satisfying squishing noises too...
Despite the originality of its setting, Cold Fear looks to be the usual third-person horror offering of door puzzles and corpses with half their faces missing. The emphasis is on action rather than slow-paced tension, but it lacks the self-aware cliches of The Suffering, which means it probably won't be quite as entertaining. But blood is blood, and when have we ever been ones to refuse a pint, eh? Stephen Daultry
Cold Fear will shivering on the shop shelves from March