Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Byte: Dual powered

I picked up FEAR for a tenner yesterday in GAME to give my new games rig a workout, and was not impressed when, like Oblivion, it decided that it didn't want to work because a DirectX driver was "not a valid Windows image". Reinstalling DirectX didn't help matters either, so I thought about uninstalling DirectX completely and installing it from scratch. And then I found out that you can essentially only do that if you completely reinstall the operating system, because Windows is a steaming heap of shite, as once you've installed DirectX, you can't get rid of it. Ever. So in a last ditch effort to avoid wiping my hard drive within the first week of having it, I deleted the offending .dll file manually and reinstalled DirectX yet again. Whereupon it decided that it would deign to work after all...

Oblivion, in all honesty, doesn't look very much better than it did with my old rig - barring the fact that I can increase all the draw distances to the maximum; so Imps aren't just popping out from nowhere now - I actually stand a fighting chance of being able to bow-snipe enemies before they see me. I've gone for a sneaky-snipey custom class again, so I'll probably last until about Level 5 like last time, when the game decides it's going to make you effectively less powerful than you were at the start of the game, by throwing hugely tough enemies at you, that you can't snipe anymore.

I'm slightly more impressed by FEAR. With the Full Screen Anti-Aliasing and the Anisotropic filtering maxed out, it does look very good (on a par with Half-Life 2 at any rate, if not better) and the slow-mo effects are pretty gorgeous. But there is a wee problem. I don't know why there's been such a fashion in FPS games recently to have most of the levels pitch black. Yeah, fantastic engine and all, but why can't I see anything? And the head-lamp torch mechanic is stupid: it lasts about thirty seconds, and takes less than five to recharge. So why make it run out in the first place? Haven't these people heard of Duracell? The weapons (so far) are also a little samey - nothing I haven't seen before - the setting is bland as hell and there's precious little enemy variety. And similarly to Project Zero 2, I've found the "horror" aspect more surreal than scary. The bit at the end of the second mission where Alma throws you through a window in a great ball of fire is pretty cool, but not really scary. It's still pretty early days, but there's nothing in there (in terms of shock value) that had me jumping out of my chair - unlike Ravenholme in Half-Life 2, for example. It's all too well telegraphed. So overall, good, but no cigar. A borderline 7-8 out of 10 from me.

Speaking of Half-Life 2, I really must reinstall it. Not that it will look any better than before - I could max it out easily on my old rig - I just miss playing it. Plus I still have to finish replaying Episode One with the commentary on. Dog! Heel!
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