Simply put, F.E.A.R. is one of the best shooters ever made. I’ll enjoy playing it again and again.
The Good: F.E.A.R. is incredible on every level.
The Bad: Ummm… nothing.
Straight up, F.E.A.R. is one of the best games I have ever played. It’s one of those games that comes along once or twice a year that just blows your mind, over and over and fully justifies the thousands of dollars you’ve spent on hardware to game on a PC. It’s hard to find a starting point for this review as every aspect of the game is astounding.
Visually, F.E.A.R. brings a familiar style but adds some new twists of it’s own. You’ll find yourself exploring factories, warehouses, office buildings and run-down homes. None of which are new settings, by any means. Although we’ve seen these sorts of environments many times over, we’ve never experienced them like this. F.E.A.R. comes equipped with a great physics engine that let’s you break anything you’d expect could be broken, push over chairs and tables and take chunks out of walls. Fire fights can get pretty intense when you can hardly see two feet in front of you from the dust and debris that’s been kicked up by the shower of bullets streaming through the air.
With great visuals comes extraordinary sound. When your bullets impact any enemy, you hear every hit with a wet, smacking sound as the bullet pierces skin. Moments later, your shells bouncing off the ground. When stray bullets hit walls, tons of dust particles and pieces of concrete are thrown into the air. You hear a shower of rubble hit the ground and surfaces around you. It’s simply incredible! Weapon sounds are something else. They’re big, loud and strong. You really feel like you’re going to do some damage. One weapon in particular can turn an enemy into charred skeletal remains, but not before evaporating the body into a beautiful could of blood.
F.E.A.R. is a long game. Maybe a bit too long as some levels give you the feeling that you might be back tracking or that you’ve seen a certain areas before. I will admit, I wasn’t exactly drawn to the story like I have been in some games. For the most part, you’re not entirely sure what’s happening. All you know is you’re chasing down some dude that is controlling an army of ‘clone’ warriors. If you take him down, they shut down and all is well. Somehow, some little girl is involved, but you’re not sure how or why. Your only source of information is telephone messages and radio broadcasts. It drags on quite a bit and you really could care less once you’re over 8 hours in. Then something huge happens and you can’t stop playing. That feeling continues right up until the final moments of the game and when it ends, you can’t wait to play it again! I was thoroughly impressed with the last portion of the game and can’t believe how they turned it around like that. Made me think that some of the redundant tasks and levels previously were on purpose so you totally get your mind blown at the end. In any case, it worked! Totally blew my mind and I’ve re-played the ending sequence a half-dozen times, easy.
Where F.E.A.R. truly shines is the artificial intelligence. Never have I seen enemies do the things they have done in F.E.A.R. I witnessed dudes kick over tables for cover. Dive through windows to avoid my grenade. Use suppressing fire to keep me pinned while one of them flanks me. They’ll even run off if you catch them off guard and try and steak around you to do the same. Their communication is quite awesome too. If you do come up on them unnoticed, they’ll often yell “Shit! Where should I go?” or “I can’t see him!” As you take them out, you’ll hear the squad leader asking for reports or calling in re-enforcements. You’ll even hear things like “Three men down, send re-enforcements”, which let’s you know you’ve eliminated most of the squad. I found it took some getting used to – having to be quite and avoid giving away your position. I developed a fondness for smashing things – every computer I came across got trashed. But often enough, this gave away my position. Your flashlight can also be a dead giveaway. My jaw hit the floor the first time I heard “Flashlight – target spotted!” Amazing!
While F.E.A.R. stands for First Encounter Assault Recon – don’t let that fool you. This game is bloody scary! Not in a “oh shit, some thing’s gonna jump out at me” Doom 3 kind of way. The music creates an eerie presence and the audio queues are spot on and will definitely make you pinch your butt cheeks! There are many unexpected things that will throw you off course and keep you on the edge of your seat. Overall, it has a very cinematic presentation that makes it stand out in the crowd even more.
I grew tired of regular old deathmatch multiplayer gameplay quite some time ago. But some how F.E.A.R. has got me back into it. Team deathmatch is so fun and fast-paced, I simply love it! However, the weapons are weighted very well and there’s basically only a couple guns you’re really gonna want to use. Which kind of sucks, but man, it’s so fun it hardly matters.
Lastly, there’s a slow-mo effect that we’ve seen a thousand times. Commonly called bullet-time, everything slow downs which gives you an advantage to dodge bullets and added time to aim a little more precisely. I wasn’t totally sold on this from the screenshots and gameplay footage I had seen previously to playing F.E.A.R. That changed after the first half hour of playing it. They’ve really made a good use of it here. While it’s mostly used to your advantage, in some circumstances, it is forced on you and it makes things pretty difficult. Reload times are painfully slow and often you’ll take a couple hits while you’re waiting to pop in that next cartridge. The feeling you get when you’re moving soooo slow and enemies are coming straight for you – unbelievably tense!
I decided not to post any screenshots for this game. They just don’t do it justice and I had a hard time remembering to take them while playing. I think the video makes up for it though – with over 13 minutes of footage ranging from quiet, eerie moments to intense fire fights and some serious “oh shit!’ moments. I wanted so badly to include the ending – but I didn’t. Play it yourself, you definitely won’t be disappointed!