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Anyone who knows me well enough knows how obsessed I am with F.E.A.R., a game I’ve played multiple times since its release in 2005. A slew of sequels sporting the F.E.A.R. name were released subsequently but none of them impressed as much as the original game since they weren’t being developed by Monolith. And then I heard the rights to the F.E.A.R. franchise had passed back to them and they would be the ones working on a full fledged sequel. Tears of happiness flowed.

Last week (or was it the week before that?) they were generous enough to release a single player demo that allowed us to sample nearly two levels of slow mo horrific action and for some reason it was somewhat of a downer.
Having played the first F.E.A.R. game on the PC I went straight up for the PC demo (demo is out on PSN and XBL as well) and nearly one and a half gigs later, I was ready to kick some undead kid arse. The demo started off from where F.E.A.R. ended so the city (where F.E.A.R. took place) has been devastated, Alma and her minions are free in the city once again and you play as one Michael Beckett who’s supposed to snuff her out once and for all.

As far as atmosphere is concerned the demo delivers. The first level took place in an abandoned school of sorts and had a good amount of scares to keep you on the edge of the seat but when it came down to the action I was pretty disappointed.
Now one of F.E.A.R.’s main draws (for me) was the over the top, John Woo inspired action. The exaggerated rag doll physics that kicked in as and when you decimated a soldier in slow motion with a shotgun or the way body parts flew all over the place never got old. In F.E.A.R. 2, it’s all gone. Shoot a solider in slow mo and he just slumps down or just slumps back minutely. Decapitation was pretty disappointing as well. Also environmental destruction has been scaled down to a certain extent and I never felt that wanton sense of satisfaction shooting up an empty room or lobbing a nade into it.

What irritated me further was the fact that weapons sounded like cheap fire crackers; something that’s a huge turn off in first person shooters. The shotgun from F.E.A.R sounded like one and packed a mean audio punch when fired. Nothing of the sort here.

And then there was the much hyped Mech section where you pilot a Mech and go to town on a bunch of soldiers and other Mechs and for some reason I nearly fell asleep during that sequence. It was that uninspiring!

And that one word pretty much summed up my feelings for the demo – Uninspiring. Sure it looked good and was creepy enough but it lacked the visceral gameplay that made me fall in love with F.E.A.R. nearly three years ago. They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its covers so I’m going to try and apply that proverb over here by not judging the game too harshly based on this demo.

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin releases for the PC, Xbox360 and PS3 on the 13th of February 2009.

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