scares you? Things that go bump in the night or facing
off against a legion of the sneakiest AI bastards
ever created? If your answer is "both",
welcome to your next game purchase.
which is in acronym for First Encounter Assault &
Recon returns the FPS genre to the "shoot first,
ask questions later" style of blastathon, games
like Doom 3 and Quake 4 have strived for recently
with varying degrees of success. Where F.E.A.R. manages
to best the aforementioned titles is in its adrenaline
pumping firefights combined with its edge of your
seat downtime that just gets the guts churning as
you explore the empty corridors. Monolith has to be
commended for their phenomenal attention to AI detail.
I think it's fair to say I've never faced off against
such brutal enemy AI and since I probably play more
games than you, I'm guessing you haven't either.
terms of story, F.E.A.R. starts off interesting but
quickly descends into "meh" due to the cliched
method in which it unfolds (via voicemails and laptop
email messages ala Resident Evil, Doom 3 etc) although
your attention will be so deeply focused on staying
alive that you probably won't notice nor care for
that matter. Without giving too much away, your job
involves containing a situation involving a rogue
army of cloned soldiers who can be controlled via
psychic powers. These clones were once on your side
but alas, all good things must come to an end. You're
the new guy, sent in to find out what's going on.
to make up for the lack of story, Monolith filled
F.E.A.R. with moments of pure gaming mind-candy. I
can't tell you what those are for fear of destroying
the experience, but let me just say that there is
no chance in Gosh Darn Heck you'll be disappointed.
Once you've encountered a few waves of the AI from
Hell who provide cover fire for partners, will circle
back around you if possible, leap over obstacles to
get closer - you'll realize that F.E.A.R. is not your
garden variety mindless shooter. Some of what you'll
actually "fear" doesn' t just take the form
of hella cool AI opponents; you'll be faced with creepy
things that do more than bump things in the night.
The only knock I can level at the developers in terms
of "scare factor" is the use of the dirty
little ghoulish girl with long black hair. That's
kinda been done....to death in movies and games.
you with a competitive edge is another cliched videogame
mechanic which you'll be so thankful for you won't
have time to debate whether "bullet time"
(Concentration) has also been done to death in recent
years. The ability to slow down time in F.E.A.R. really
does provide you with the edge you'll so desperately
need throughout the game. Without it, the game would
be almost impossible in certain areas. But it's best
used as an appetizer rather than the main course.
Concentration replenishes as time marches on and you'd
be forgiven if you thought a good tactic would be
to engage it, jump out, shoot everything that moved
and then hid while it recharged. That doesn't work
so well because of the already talked about AI. They
will snuff you out while you hide either by actually
flanking you or simply tossing a grenade in your general
F.E.A.R. is a cornea searing treat but really only
when it comes to the creepy monsters and the animations
of the swarms of enemies. The environments are fairly
stark and due to the "scientific complex"
nature of the story, tend to be confusing and repetitive
- almost needlessly so as you'll no doubt find yourself
going around in circles more than a few times. F.E.A.R.
is a pretty big system hog too and you'll want some
juice under the hood if you plan to play it and see
it the way Monolith intended you to.
so than visuals, F.E.A.R.s ambient soundrack and sound
effects will send chills up your spine as you wander
the empty halls (or so you hope) of the complex. If
you don't have a decent set of speakers I would recommend
investing in some, as F.E.A.R. gets props for such
fantastic music and effects. Not only are the effects
well done, but they are also well placed. Normal everyday
sounds like bumping into a wall usually aren't that
frightening, but this game will have you jumping like
a chihuahua with a nervous disposition.
is a real mixed bag. On the one hand Monolith went
above and beyond the call of duty in regards to the
amount of control they have offered to the player.
You will be able to jump, duck, melee attack, shoot,
concentrate, zoom in, look around obstacles, throw
grenades, strafe etc. With all of the possiblities
in terms of movement coming to terms with the controls
in the middle of a firefight can be overwhelming.
Purists will definitely want to spend some time in
the configuration menu as the default setup is the
least intuitive and will definitely require tweaking,
unless your a tried and true WASD player.
you do manage to come to grips with the maneuverability
Monolith packs a one-two punch with their robust firearms
selection. You won't have oodles of weapons to experiment
with, but the firepower you do have is more than enough
to get the job done. The only disappointing aspect
of the weapons is the remarkably small amount of grenades
you'll have access to. In a game like F.E.A.R. where
enemies are often clustered together, a few pineapples
tossed in the right direction can even the odds in
your favor. You'll learn to really cherish those moments
when you manage to use one effectively. Hell, it just
might be your last so you had better not waste it.
the single player game is really the star of the show,
the multiplayer games (Capture the Flag, Deathmatch
etc) don't really shine. It was very ambitious of
Monolith to include "concentration" in the
online aspects of F.E.A.R. (your online opponents
will find their movements slowed down and thus be
susceptible to attack) but aside from that one flourish,
taking F.E.A.R. online isn't anything spectacular.
It's certainly no deal clincher if you're sitting
on the fence.
is all about messing with your head in single player.
If you aren't freaked out by the ambient noises and
ghoulish aspects during the games "downtime"
you'll be on the edge of your seat trying to stay
alive during the extremely intense firefights. Since
the fear you'll experience isn't the result of scripted
or canned events, F.E.A.R. comes off feeling fresh
and inspired even though it sometimes relies on parlor
tricks to get the heart puming a little faster than
usual. It's a wild ride to be sure and fans of both
FPS and horror will get a lot of it.