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Monday, May 21, 2007

Game Play: F.E.A.R. Combat

I tried out the free multiplayer component of F.E.A.R. a bit over the weekend - in part because after a late night session at the local goth-club-watering hole ... it was about all I could manage to accomplish on a Sunday.

This isn't my first leap into FEAR multiplayer - and not a whole lot has changed. Deathmatch in its free-for-all mode is just complete mayhem. You spend most of your time getting shot in the back or conversely shooting others in the back. The shotgun is often a source of contention since it requires all the skill of running into something while mashing the trigger.

Course, some servers have melee, or a form of it, which kills nearly instantly as well. I'm not sure who thought this was a good idea - but it brings that contention factor up like ... fifty. The fact that I apparently spawn with enough body armor to survive a good couple high caliber rounds to the chest but die when some jackass runs by jabbing me with his thumb is pretty annoying.

Team deathmatch is a far more civilized affair since you actually get to spawn and seek out the other team. It's a lot more cat and mouse than vanilla DM. It reminds me a bit of the game Counter-Strike used to be and a bit of what it became - a little strategy but mostly run and gun. Still, it disappoints me that years after that game started to get popular a game like this still gives lots of advantages to age old techniques like bunny hopping. The idea that jumping around like an idiot is a beneficial way to use an automatic rifle is really, really silly. It's silly enough in a game like Unreal Tournament - but hey at least you're like a robot with lasers there.

In fact if anything is rather surreal is this sense of same that pervades the game. I love the environments and shadows and in general it is very well produced and designed - but damn ... I feel like I've been playing the same TDM for like a decade now. I tried out Half-Life 2's team DM earlier this week and it was a very similar experience.

Granted, I haven't tried the latest shooters like Gears Of War to see how much evolution we've gotten recently ... but part of me wonders how much to expect when online gaming stagnates like this.

Still, I'd recommend F.E.A.R. Combat to the curious - it's free, well developed and fun.

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