The lights are on
If you live in a warmer climate, you might not be aware of the impending cold storm set to blanket the northern states. You probably don’t have to worry about the “life-threatening wind chill” that was issued by the National Weather Service, or find out that a "polar vortex" is a weather phenomenon and not an unlockable weapon in a Mega Man game.
This is a list of games you can use to empathize with those of us living in the mid-west. And if you happen to be caught in the deadly cold with us, these titles can bring what’s happening outside into your home, without the whole “life-threatening” part.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (pictured above)Not all of Uncharted 2 takes place in a cold environment, but a lot of it does. The game opens with Nathan Drake dangling from the edge of a snowy mountain in a crashed train, and it takes hours before he gets his hands on a coat. He does get his moments of tropical bliss early on, but the game’s most memorable moments take place with snow on the ground and cold in the air.
Indigo ProphecyBefore Beyond: Two Souls and before Heavy Rain, Quantic Dream released Indigo Prophecy (titled Fahrenheit outside of the United States), a murder mystery taking place in New York in January. Whenever the narrative moves outside, there is snow on the ground. There is one sequence that even involves diving into an iced-over pond. Cold is an integral component of the story, and depending on which ending you conclude with, the world could be cast in an eternal winter.
Metal Gear SolidTaking place in February, the first Metal Gear Solid brings Solid Snake to a secret base on an island off the coast of Alaska. Snake tracks his footprints in the snow, smokes cigarettes to stay warm (and find hidden security lasers), takes part in a sniper battle during a blizzard, fights Vulcan Raven in a huge refrigerator, and eventually escapes on a snowmobile. The only parts of Metal Gear Solid that aren't cold are a brief walk through a furnace and Dr. Hal Emmerich’s pants when he urinates on himself in fear.
Dead Space 3It’s undeniably cold in space, but it doesn’t look or feel as cold as Tau Volantis, the snow-covered planet where the majority of Dead Space 3 takes place. While on the planet, series protagonist Isaac Clarke’s body temperature is displayed, showing you when his body temperature is getting too low. It allows you see and feel the cold creeping into Clarke’s suit.
Batman: Arkham OriginsBatman’s latest video game adventure takes place on Christmas Eve during a severe winter storm warning that forces the residents of Gotham City to stay indoors and off the streets as snow blankets the city. Criminals complain about the bitter cold as Batman eavesdrops on their conversations, but not the Dark Knight. Presumably his suit has some kind of heating mechanism, because he seems completely oblivious to the fact that it is currently the dead of winter in Gotham. Batman: Arkham City also took place on the frigid streets of Gotham.
The ThingBased on the film of the same name, The Thing takes place in Antarctica shortly after the events of the original movie. From the third-person, you’ll be tromping through the snow fighting monsters, and trying to stay warm. You can see some of the game in action by checking out the episode of Replay above.
Lost PlanetIn the first Lost Planet game, warmth is crucial to your survival. Staying alive on the planet of E.D.N. III demands that players kill bugs in order to collect energy to keep their suits functioning properly in the bitter cold. In the fiction of Lost Planet, Earth has become uninhabitable, so you’ve made your way to a new Earth-like planet, which is unfortunately currently experiencing an ice age. If the preference to Earth is a bug infested ice planet, you know things have gotten pretty rough.
Assassin's Creed IIIConnor doesn’t spend all of his time in the snow. Assassin’s Creed III progresses through the seasons, but its winter sequences present a realistic take on the trouble of moving through snow. Connor hunts, gathers, and performs all of his assassin duties even during the icy months, struggling against the frozen white stuff. Movement requires raising his knees nearly to his chest as he tries his best to sprint through the landscape. Connor’s struggle translates to an excellent representation of how cold it must have been before the days of advanced heating systems.
The Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimParts of Skyrim are snow free, but considering this entry in The Elder Scrolls series exists in the northern part of Tamriel, the continent on which the series is set, the snow-free areas are less common. Whether you’re fighting dragons, simply moving from point A to B, or collecting plants, there will usually be snow under your feet, and it feels cold.
SSXSSX is a snowboarding series, so every game and every track is cold, but the new SSX added a new layer to the coldness by adding levels from real-world locations like Antarctica, as well as dangerous freezing conditions on certain tracks. SSX is a cold series, but the latest release (2012) was easily the coldest.
Cold WinterTechnically, the title has more to do with the Cold War than the temperature, but as far as video game titles go, you can’t get much colder than the words ‘Cold’ and ‘Winter’. We played the game on an episode of Replay as the Roulette which you can check out above. Cold Winter starts around the 29 minute mark.
Are there any cold games that we overlooked? Still have a little bit of warmth left in your bones? You can get in on a discussion of the best snow levels in games by heading here.
Email the author Kyle Hilliard, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.