I downloaded and played the F.E.A.R. single-player demo today (available here), and I’m pretty impressed. I’ve been looking forward to this game since they released a gameplay trailer a while back, and it definitely looks like it has the potential to be a great shooter. Graphics-wise, it’s closer to Doom 3 than Half-Life 2, so everything looks very nice and slick, if not particularly real. What stands out the most is the A.I., which appears to be extremely competent. The enemy is very good at using cover and navigating their surroundings; each time I played the demo they varied their attacks. Some even dove through windows to either avoid me or flank me. The weapons seem like a lot of fun, the only downside being that you can’t carry them all at once — you have to discard one weapon to pick up another once you have three in your inventory.
Some other nice touches: You can look down and see your own legs, you cast a shadow (which can startle you at times if you’re not expecting it), and ladder climbing is easy and nicely done; you even see your hands grabbing the rails as you climb. It’d be nice if these three things made their way into future Half-Life games.
Clichés abound, of course, but when done well, even recycled material can work. The creepy little girl ghost is indeed creepy, and the Matrix-esque “bullet-time” ability your character has is nicely done and extremely useful in the chaos of a fire-fight.
Couple things bugged me: walking over a dead enemy would cause his body to shift with a sound like a sack of softballs dropped from a 3-story crane: WHUMMPFF. Jolting at first and then just annoying. Can’t my commando step over bodies instead of walking directly on them? And even if he can’t, does the noise of stepping on a dead man have to be that loud? Stepping on a live man, unless that live man is Gilbert Gottfried, isn’t even that loud.
The voice acting is resoundingly “eh”. Evil guy with growly, fake British accent, boss with gruff, fake Chicago accent, etc.
Overall, though, I’m excited about the game’s release. Looks like a great blend of horror and action.