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In Cold Winter, you play as an ex-Special Air Service (SAS) operative who has been captured and jailed in a political prison in China. Before you are to be executed, one of your old friends saves you, because he needs you for a job only you can handle.
Cold Winter focuses on two story lines which connect towards the end of the game. These include the protagonist, Andrew Sterling and the antagonist John Grey.
The writing was done by Warren Ellis.
Andrew Sterling's story
Andrew Sterling is a former SAS soldier working for MI6. He is captured in China and jailed in Chang Political prison. MI6 destroys all files on Sterling to prevent an international incident. Andrew is rescued the night before his execution by an old acquaintance named Kim (female) and a former fellow SAS soldier Daniel Parish.
To repay his debt to Parish for saving his life Andrew agrees to work for his private security agency. Andrew then travels to Egypt to eliminate the leaders of an arms dealing cartel who possess a missile guidance system called Octopus.
Andrew completes his mission but at the cost of Kim's life.
John Grey's story
John Grey (voiced by Tom Baker) was a young man who enlisted in the Royal Air Force to defend Britain at the height of World War II. Horrified by nuclear weapons John Grey formed a secret society, "Greywings" inspired by the heroes of the H.G. Wells novel The Shape of Things to Come. Greywings sought out and destroyed nuclear threats but ultimately came to the conclusion that the only way to abolish nuclear warfare would be to create a nuclear winter leaving the survivors afraid of nuclear warfare.
Greywings planned on initiating their plan codenamed Operation: Cold Winter by providing world powers with the Octopus guidance systems.
John Grey hired Parish to liquidate the Egyptian arms ring because they stole an Octopus unit which was intended for world powers rather than the third world countries its thieves planned on selling it to. John Grey soon after betrays his own organization to save the life of his infant granddaughter. Andrew Sterling is sent to Greywing's headquarters in the Himalayan mountains where he destroys the facility's power core and escapes in Parish's helicopter. John Grey is then seen in the games last scene on a bench in Prague where his former subordinates murder him.
The game is a first-person shooter (FPS) and has a host of multiplayer options. The game also uses the Karma physics engine, allowing for interactivity with items in the game world and for ragdoll effects. Cover can also be improvised by using objects in the environment. For example, the player can flip a table to provide cover or grab a table and block a door. Over 30 weapons are available.
Using a small inventory menu, some weapons and tools can be constructed, such as Molotov cocktails and lock picks.
The game offers a multiplayer component that supports up to 4 players offline and 8 players online; in the offline mode, human players may be substituted for CPU's. There are a dozen maps and six modes including deathmatch and king of the hill.
Cold Winter was released with some moderate success with reviews averaging to about 75%. The strong interactivity with ordinary objects was particularly noted - possibilities such as pushing, pulling, and tilting tables and trolleys allowed additional tactical moves.