'F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin' PC Demo Impressions

February 10, 2009 § Leave a comment

So I played the FEAR 2 demo and it’s ok. It’s a fairly alright run-and-gun, corridor-shooter with some slow-mo bits and a little horror on the side. The only thing is this: that is exactly what its predecessor was. The only difference here is the graphical upgrade (which, incidentally, is pretty flashy). I suppose that this is all fine with fans of the last game but, for me, I need something a little extra to make me fork out for a FPS these days. Quite frankly, the combat without the slow-mo, ain’t that super-fantastic. The AI also isn’t much to shout about either; but then, given that the AI has such limited environments to work with, this doesn’t come as such a surprise. With the original game I remember not particularly finding the environments all that interesting and the same applies here. The scare aspect is also based more on jump-based set-pieces rather than actual tension.

One thing I did like which others have been finding rather annoying is the HUD display, both in regards to the on-foot sections and the mech-piloting bits. The HUD is claustrophobic; almost to the degree where it starts to impede on the player’s visual breadth. I actually like this because it reinforces this idea of being in an inclosed space, and of increasing the player’s sense of being trapped or vulnerable; others find it damn annoying. I almost forgot to add how amusing piloting the mech in gunning down underpowered soldiers and similarly-powered robots. This is the best part of the demo but I think that this aspect of the game actually serves to undermine itself.

I’ll explain. The game wants you to be scared, to feel trapped, claustrophobic and vulnerable. It tries to do this with making the design of the game closed off, and by squeezing the player’s vision through an obtusive HUD. This makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is then giving the player access to a big-ass robot which basically ass-rapes everything it comes across. Any sense of feeling scared is completely destroyed as soon as you enter the cockpit of your nice, comfy war-machine. As a reflection of this change in temperament, I actually started to perceive the mech HUD as sort of protecting me, making me feel safe. This is in contrast to how I previously felt when I was on-foot, where I frequently felt boxed in by the hud which limited my view of the area.

It is in my limited opinion that I don’t think the game works on a survival-horror level, and if it doesn’t work on that level then it’s the combat mechanics that have to pull the game through. As I mentioned before though, I don’t really enjoy the combat in the game that much, and again, a lot of thathas to do with feeling so overpowered that you never feel in any danger or jeopardy — another reason why the game fails in inducing real panic in the player.

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