I just played through the singleplayer F.E.A.R demo, and I’m glad it was the daytime. Sunlight was streaming through the window and a dog slept by my desk, which meant that when I stepped onto the ladder and saw a little girl standing right in front of me I only jumped a little, instead of dying right there and then. It only lasted twenty minutes or so, but I was quite impressed. The sound was immersive, even using my two tiny speakers, with the sound of your own breathing becoming very loud at the darkest points, as well as excellent use of incredibly unnerving silence. The graphics were excellent – extended gunfire produced smoke, obscuring your vision, and the grenades produced impressive shockwaves. Dodging bullets resulted in sprays of wall-material flying in all directions, and the ‘fast reflexes mode’1 saw projectiles rippling through the air in a very Matrix-like fashion. Not that I had much chance to notice these effects, given that I was desperately trying to survive at the time.
What most impressed me, though, was the general creepiness. The little girl spoke in whispers of death and coming horrors, then crumbled into ashes; hallucinations of the man I was chasing appeared once or twice, fading into the shadows and vanishing; silhouettes of the grotesque passed through open doorways. And just when you’re getting used to the atmosphere, some kind of assault-armour clad marine drops through the ceiling and unleases eighteen rockets in your direction.
The plot, that I know of anyway, revolves around an elite army unit (First Encounter Assault Recon) who deal with paranormal situations. The level I played was very Doom3 like, but without being so goddamn macabre. The setup of F.E.A.R sounds much more promising, as when you complete a mission you presumably move onto something different, and hopefully not just another industrial area with flickering lights.
F.E.A.R’s definitely going onto the wishlist, but the thought of playing it alone, at night, in my flat? I’m nervous already.
- think bullet-time from Max Payne [↩]