In Cold Winter, you play the role of Andrew Sterling, a former member of MI6, the British secret intelligence service. Andrew is caught preparing to assassinate someone in China, and is thrown into prison. There he faces torture and imminent execution. But a former friend from his MI6 days arranges to rescue him and offers him a job, having planned in advance to manipulate him so that he is unable to refuse. The first task seems fairly ordinary: to track down a weapons dealer who has been supplying terrorists.
But soon Andrew's mission becomes more important, because he must deal with a sinister conspiracy that embraces the whole world. In the story, there is a secret society called the Greywings, which slowly began to form after World War I. The organization dedicated itself to stopping nuclear weapons proliferation by any means. Their obsessive leader, John Grey, finally decided that this effort is hopeless. He set in motion a plan calculated to cause the nuclear war he had been trying to prevent for his whole life, reasoning that it is better to have the war under controlled conditions, because it would have happened sooner or later. It is Andrew Sterling who must stop the plan from working. He must track them down and follow them to 'Winterlong,' a hidden bunker in the Arctic, where they have taken shelter.
In this first-person shooter, you can collect over 20 weapons to kill your enemies. You can only carry two of them simultaneously, although it is also possible to use grenades. You can make weapons by combining items you find. For example, a fuel can, a bottle, and cloth combine to make a Molotov cocktail. A business card and some poison make a business card that is poisoned. You shouldn't worry about finding healing items, though, because you carry along an unlimited health pack. You need to remember to use this at the proper time, though, or of course you will still be killed. In combat, you can use various objects to help you. For example, you can throw pots at your enemies. Large objects such as chairs, desks, and even wheeled carts can be pushed to block the enemy's path or to provide limited cover for yourself.
It is possible to take the roles of two other primary characters in the story. Enemies would respond to alarms, change posture, take cover, divide themselves, and work in groups. Depending on how quickly you are able to react, they are likely to send someone to get reinforcements, and they yell for help. Perceptions become confused when the character is under stress. The game uses flashbacks to explain what has happened prior to the events described in it.
All blood effects (except in all but on rendered cutscene), shot off limbs and the possibility to shoot civilians were removed. Violent content was cut out in three cutscenes, e.g. two minutes of the intro. A detailed list of changes can be found on schnittberichte.com (German)