Wednesday, January 28, 2009

F.E.A.R. 2 Demo

I played the F.E.A.R. 2 demo the other night. There were parts I strongly liked and others I strongly disliked.

The Good:
  • Weaponry: The guns had a good kick and were easy to use and switch between. This is important because they sounded very powerful in the first game.
  • The attention to detail in the school was incredible. Everything you'd expect to see in a classroom was all there, from fundraiser progress bars to construction paper projects to grammar lessons. Nice touch.
  • The mech battle sequence was quite well done. The movement of the mech was neither unrealistically fluid nor frustratingly clunky; either extreme is easy to achieve.
The Bad:
  • The glow around the enemies in bullet time is a horrible symptom of consolitis
  • Graphics? I think? The first FEAR was the game I bought to flex the muscles of my upgrade computer in 2006; that same comptuer would naturally struggle with this one. It's scalable, and certainly not bad, but the graphics weren't as effective this time around. To be specific, it seemed like dynamic shadows and lighting effects were used to much greater effect in the first game. I understand the need to not rely on that so much - increase the texture resolution and level of detail, and you'll need to bake some lighting in to maintain performance.
  • The laser sights on enemy snipers defeated the purpose of sniping. I understand this is a development decision so we're not frustrated trying to find them, but it's the easy and ineffective way out.
  • Seriously, the object shimmer effect around the enemies is a dealbreaker. It reduces arguably the coolest function of the game into an annoying sign saying "SHOOT HERE, LOVE, XBOX." It's unforgivable, and until it's removed or removable, I won't be buying the game.


Bryan said...

I haven't played it yet (so maybe I'll agree with you when I see it), but I'm not sure that glowing enemies in bullet time counts as consolitis. Glowing enemies isn't exactly a common feature on console FPSs. In fact, I can't think of any.

Unless you just mean that it seems dumbed down. But, I think that the whole PC vs. consoles shooter war is a little last gen. Console shooter fans have matured, and as a result, the PC and console shooter categories have largely merged. Bioshock and Call of Duty 4, to take some recent examples, are not dumbed down at all and were super popular on all platforms.

Anyways, I have the FEAR 2 demo downloading now, and I'll let you know what I think after I play it. Maybe I'll take back everything I just said.

Keith said...

I haven't played the F.E.A.R 2 demo either, but I would agree that for the most part, COD 4 and Bioshock played pretty well. In terms of interface, they have done better with menu screens. They don't feel like you are just controlling a console screen with a mouse as much.

However, the bigger problem is going to be graphics matching as the lifespan of the current generation of consoles goes on. A year and a half ago PC graphics were only slightly ahead of the console hardware, but now the gap is widening. It will be disappointing when new major FPS titles come out multi-platform and have graphics that look 4-5 years old compared to what might be coming out PC exclusive. Especially since both Microsoft and Sony have hinted that they don't plan on making new consoles any time soon.

Bryan said...

So I did finally check out the demo. I actually didn't like it much at all. It was visually unimpressive, the menus and interface were overly consolized, and it forced me to play in a letterbox.

I didn't think the weapons sounded very powerful, so I'll have to disagree with you there.

The biggest thing, though, was that the game goes for a lot of "scary" moments, but they all fall flat because the scary stuff can't hurt you. The screen may flash with blood while some creepy girl stands behind you, but you can walk on without a care. The only enemies that can hurt you, the soldiers, announce their presence in advance with radio chatter.

Maybe that changes later in the game. But in the demo level, it boiled down to: walk through dimly lit hallways for 5 minutes, bored->shoot 3 soldiers->repeat. Yawn.

The whole thing screamed "just another generic FPS".

Bryan said...

Also, to Keith: what PC exclusive FPS? I think after the disappointing sales of Crysis, that might be an extinct breed. For better or for worse, we now live in a world where PC graphics are largely driven by the console hardware cycle.