F.E.A.R.: Review

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.


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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.

F.E.A.R.

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!

Rating: 5/5

F.E.A.R.

28 Responses to “F.E.A.R.: Review”

  1. Awesome video man, I really wanna pick this one up (again) now that I have a better video card.

    I laughed my ass off where you just broke shit for a minute. hahah

  2. I got the demo for F.E.A.R. with my Alienware laptop and I'm seriously scared to play it, it looks tyte though i have to admit. I'll just have to play it when my roomates around.

  3. Nice review man, had heard good things about the game but you have made it sound kinda juicy. Will watch the vid at lunch but I can't se me playing it till I complete Call of Duty 2 (Just finished the British Campaign).

  4. They probably just threw in the little girl to make it scary like The Ring when it first came out, The Grudge, etc.

    What's the saving like?

    As for video:

    HUD Flickering = hella kewl.

    Surround sound = awesome. The voices coming through the phone highlights this well.

    Ladder climbing = well done; except when gun is lifted BAM 'speedy gonzales' lifts his gun in a single frame. Being able to look around whilst on the ladder is just plain wicked-awesome.

    Holy crap, looking at that firefight makes me want to dish out money for one of those motherboards that hold 2 cards, and getting 2 of the best nVidias out there. What kind of friggen specs does your computer have? That's insanely good graphics! All that dust, and crap flying all over the place! Hell of a rendering engine to do the bullets/grenade so well. Bullet-time auto or manual?

    Love the smashing part–especially when got caught. And where you the computer after shooting through the roof tiles.

    It just got scary as shit once blew up the four generator things, the red lights started flashing and there was random lightning.

    My only 2 crits of the game from the video is that shooting at vortex guys looks no fun, and it could have probably done with some shots where it does the tunnel vision thing–like in LOTR when Frodo first sees a ring-wraith.

  5. @Justin: Thanks for the links. I think I might start including links to available demos for future reviews. Good call for sure.

    @Dave: Totally, the name is retarded to the max.

    @Alan: Nice! I actually just discovered last week that I still had a few missions unfinished in COD2. The last few British missions were great and the Hill 400 campaign blew my mind! Totally gonna play that over again soon. Amazing!

    @James: Yeah, it definitely has a Japanese horror feel to it. For sure inspired by those two movies.

    The ladders are amazing. They feel very real – best I've seen in a game. But yeah, kind of odd how quickly the weapon pops back up.

    Oh man, Nvidia's SLi setup gives me boners. So rad! I'll probably never have one though. That would over a grand just on video cards! Hah! My specs are on the about page.

    The slow-mo is manual for the most part. The Ctrl key activates it. But some times it's forced and you have no control.

  6. I've played this one a lot. DeusEx used to be one of my faves and although this one tops it easily, there were scenes that reminded me of it (rooftops, etc.).

    What I enjoy doing (and this is just clean innocent fun) is to find innovative ways of using my weapons and drawing people out. So, after having played a stretch for a while, it's fun to expermiment with it. Ever tried throwing some landmines at people or drawing them out in innovative ways to actually jump through windows right on top of the mines you placed in front of them?

    And then turn on slow-mo. 😉

    Lots of fun, especially because the AI makes them react differently again and again.

    Geez, and I should be far too old for this stuff.

    Love it.

  7. Nice review.

    This game is amazing, and really deserve a 10/10 rather than the "best-game-ever" HL².

    The only thing i don't like in this game is when u turn while looking at ur feet (like the speedy holster when climbing a ladder).

    The story is inspired by The Ring and many other japanese horror movie, but also by AKIRA for the final ending, i think.

    The better FPS of 2005 in my opinion.

    ps : and excuse my poor english, french here 😉

  8. Hey Matt,

    What settings were you running your game at?

    I was running at maximum on most settings and was getting chunking during gameplay and I run Geforce 6800 gt/1G ram etc so I should run pretty smooth.

    lemme know,

    J.

  9. It looks like a sweet game Matt. I would pick this one up for sure, unfortunatly last week we have a surge when I was asleep that kocked out my LAN Card and my Power Supply, Video Card, and Sound Card. I only got around to fixing the first 2 things, This really buggs me.

  10. Wow, u had FEAR looking good on a 6600 GT 128 mb card. What res was that on man? the gameplay video looked great, didnt know a 6600 gt could handle fear looking quite good.

  11. @Justin: I don't remember if I had everything on High or Maximum. One of the two. No AA.

    @Duncan: Dude, that suuucks!

    @mark: 1280×800. The video was recorded at half that, then resized to 500×313.

  12. Im new to the PC game world, and in a few weeks Im going up to Tiger Direct from Orillia to get some new hardware, and sugestions to what Video card I should get, and Im scared using such a big game on my PC. I just have enough money to keep what I have going and can't afford another TKO. Heelllpp. How do I know if its running good, I know nothing about gt's,. or w.e That is. Im more into server setup. Yikes!!! HELP ME!!!

  13. In reply to Duncan, a friend of mine could play it with decent performance with P4 2.8 Ghz, 512M Ram and an old ATI Radeon 9600.

    I maxed out the graphics on my system and it ran smoother than my buttcheeks. And they're smooth.

  14. I was going through a bunch of old computer chips and came across a SiS Silicon Video crad, I put it in, ran 3D Settings and at highest quality I got about 79.34 fp/s. How good is that?

  15. Finally, I've completed the game (yeah, I've been slacking), and I have to say, this is one of the best endings I've ever seen. Storywise it was so-so, but the feeling, especially on a 7.1 system… woo!