FEAR stands for something daft like First Encounter Assault Recon. FEAR has some truly awesome fire fights, the “gun play” is very, very good. In firefights the developers have gone for a full on experience. Particles and chunks fly off every surface as your bullets inpact on it. Paper sprays off bundles of paper, splinters fly off piles of timber, glass shanters into lots of pieces and sparks and smoke come off all the weapons. Whilst you’re getting all of this eye candy thrown at you, the AI is cunningly flanking you, flushing you out with grenades and generally being clever (or giving a very good illusion of being clever). This was the first game since half-life 1 (when the grunts first flushed me out with a grenade) where the AI actually surprised me. The bad guys will vault over surfaces and pull over desks and filing cabinets to provide cover. Get too close to them and they lunge at your and knock you flying. It’s all very impressive.
So, the guns, the fire fights and the AI is all good. Unfortunately the level design is mind-numbingly repetitive. Abandoned warehouse, abandoned office, sewer, repeat. The story seems pretty good initally but the briefings at the start of each mission get more and more pointless as you realise its just another warehouse of bad guys to shoot your way through. It does have some genuinely creepy moments, just as you turn a corner a ghostly figure will walk past into a wall. Or, just as you reach the top of a ladder a figure will be there and then scatter into lots of fly-like black particles. It does bits of horror stuff very well in places, but then you round the next corner and it’s back to mowing down bad guys again.
I’ve been playing it in small bursts, it seems to be best that way.
Call Of Duty 2
Call Of Duty 2 is very much a sequel. It doesn’t look vastly different from the first one. There has been a bit of polish to the engine, it has very good smoke for one thing and still has its intense edge. The one thing that stands out after playing FEAR is how static the scenery is. Everything is completely glued to the floor, unless it’s scripted to get blown up by a tank or something. I mean, a small wooden crate can provide cover from a tank shell, which is just silly.
The various scenarios are still huge fun though, and you get into those intense situation we’re you’ve got enemy fire zipping past you and you’re throwing grenades and jumping over walls and stuff. Crouching…reloading…popping up…sighting down the weapon…capping a bad guy. Great stuff.