If someone had told me that the F.E.A.R. demo was only about 10-15 minutes long, I’d have had a hard time justifying downloading the 646MB file to myself. At least, that is, until I played the game.
The F.E.A.R. demo is the most cinematic, most intense and most gripping 15 minutes of gaming I have ever engaged in. Everything is spit-polished, shined, buffed and given a double coat of genuine carnauba wax. The presentation of the demo, from the opening credits onwards, is nothing short of Hollywood. It really looks like the next step after Half-Life 2.
Emphasize the “looks” in that sentence because no game in the world looks better. The textures, shaders, lights, models, animations and especially the soft (oh so soft) and sweet shadows combine to make a game that looks so lifelike at times that Doom 3 and Half-Life 2 pale in comparison. The way characters run, move over obstacles, react to hits, fire their guns and dodge grenades is beyond compare. The physics engine makes sure items get knocked off shelves and even the shelve stands themselves can be brought down.
Everything about F.E.A.R. reeks of the highest production standards. Simply walking through the world is intense and breathtaking, not just because it looks so good but because it has so much atmosphere. A first-person shooter with a considerable emphasis on being a thriller, F.E.A.R. has a suitably eerie musical score and dozens of scripted sequences and events designed to get the player on edge. Your character sees things, hears things and sometimes even experiences them. It might be something moving in the shadows or a corridor dripping with blood. It’s a much more refined fear than the jumping out of the closet gimmicks that Doom used.
The quicksave is the best way to retain your sanity, it’s like turning on the lights when you’re a kid watching a horror film. It’s that soft, comfortable reassurance that even if you do get your ass whooped by whatever’s coming – or not coming – around the corner, you won’t have to go through the 37 seconds of creepy gameplay since your previous save. Yes, it’s that bad.
Part of this is the randomization factor. Enemies don’t always appear to be in the same spots. Go through a section once and Foe #1 might be waiting in the central part of the room, with #2 and #3 together in the dark corridor beyond. If you die and reload, Foe #1 and #3 might have moved into the glass office next to the central area, while #2 spots you and fires from his dark corridor.