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Shooter / FPS video game by Sierra Online, Inc. for the Xbox 360

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FEAR - Horror meets shooter in this beginning of a great franchise

  • Mar 24, 2007
  • by
Pros: solid gameplay, scary imagery and sound, good multiplayer

Cons: a few annoyances, but nothing that should keep anyone away

The Bottom Line: A solid shooter that doesn't bring much new to the table. But it remains consistently fun, adequately scary, and very satisfying.

F.E.A.R. was one of the most successful PC shooters from 2005. It required a very powerful PC and only those lucky enough to have the hardware could enjoy it in it’s full glory. But when the Xbox 360 arrived, the power had arrived in the living room. Is this port by Day one Studios a worthy shooter for the console?

Read on, Dear reader…

•• Story ••
You are a member of First Encounter Assault Recon sent in to a military base to explore strange goings on. When a small girl appears and charbroils thes rest of the squad, you are left to figure things out on your own.

The game tries to be a horror survival first person shooter and it mostly succeeds. The story is doled out very carefully giving you bits of storyline through messages on answering machines, flashbacks, and unholy visions. Mostly effective, the story doesn’t get too deep, nor does it need to. The cliché-ridden tome is spooky and entertaining enough to justify the gameplay.

•• Gameplay ••
F.E.A.R. is a first person shooter which puts you in the eyes and mind of the player you control. The controls are the same as Halo, so anyone should be able to pick it up and start playing. A few changes are necessary such as hitting the right bumper for slo-mo mode.

And this is one of the few things that sets the game apart from other first person shooters. You have the ability to briefly go into slo-mo mode for better accuracy and advantage against larger amounts of enemies. The idea of slo-mo play or Bullet-time as it’s been over-called is nothing used, so the feature alone is not terribly unique. But it does add a fair amount of interesting variety and strategy to the game.

As well, you can collect boosters along the way which are essentially power-ups that give you increased health or stamina. There is nothing too special about these boosters. They simply make it easier to keep going as the bad guys get tougher.

And tougher they do get. Instead of fighting other soldiers the whole time, you also fight against stealth ninjas and super-tough fighters. The Ai is surprisingly good as enemies take cover smartly and show advanced tactics like flanking and proper avoidance depending on the risk.

The game has 8 missions and they are fairly long. Experienced shooters should be able to blow through the game in under 10 hours, but those who like to take their time will find much to enjoy.

The one thing I didn’t like was the needless use of the flashlight constantly later in the game. The flashlight has a limited lifespan so you may be sitting in a single dark spot waiting for it to recharge. The makers of Condemned got it right: If you are going to require the player to use the flashlight, don’t make them recharge it. Having the player do nothing while the battery recharges is not compelling gameplay.

The other thing that got old very quickly was the lack of health regeneration between levels. Complete the hard part of one mission and you move on to the next mission with the same health. As realistic as this may be, it’s not fun to go from one encounter to another already damaged.

Aside form these minor annoyances, the game is solid. The gameplay is fast and furious with enough smarts to keep even the most jaded player interested.

•• Graphics ••
When you aren’t surrounded by darkness, the graphics are quite good. High resolution textures abound and while some of the items are noticeably repeated, there is a large amount of variety and detail.

The effects such as explosions are very well done, colorful and dynamic. Each type of grenade has a different look when it goes off and the ragdoll physics add much satisfaction to the overall visual quality of the game.

•• Sound ••
The sound effects in F.E.A.R are excellent. The guns all have unique sounds and the grenades will rock your stereo. The voice-overs are professionally done and there is a fair amount of speech in the form of answering machine messages. The best part is the stuff with the little girl as she always seems to bring with her lots of spooky sounds and screams that jump out of nowhere. The sonic landscape is what gives this film the creepy atmosphere that it has.

•• Multiplayer ••
The multiplayer in F.E.A.R is very good, if a bit standard. The modes of gameplay are found in nearly every other FPS including deathmatch, team deathmatch and last man standing. The only unique gameplay is Booster which encourages players to go after the lone booster on the map, thereby slowing all the other players down. This game type doesn’t seem to be balanced, but it works quite well and is played often on Live.

Aside from that pretty standard stuff, though the performance was always good with no noticeable lag or framerate drops.

•• Achievements ••
The achievements in the game weren’t given a tremendous amount of thought. You get rewarded for simply completing levels. Strangely you also get rewarded for using less ammo and for not picking up boosters. I’m not a big fan of rewarding players for not using features you’ve created, but whatever. Other than that the achievements are very run-of-the-mill.

•• Parents Should Know ••
This game is rated M for mature and contains much graphic imagery of horror, torture and mutilation. Keep this one away from the kiddies.

•• Conclusion ••
A solid shooter that doesn't bring much new to the table. But it remains consistently fun, adequately scary, and very satisfying.


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About this video game


F.E.A.R. (First Encounter Assault and Recon) is a first-person close-quarters combat game for the PC. The story begins when a paramilitary force infiltrates a multi-billion dollar aerospace compound, and the government responds by sending in Special Forces. The group loses contact with the government when an eerie signal interrupts radio communications--and when that interference subsides moments later, the team has been destroyed. That''s where you come in. As part of a classified strike team created to deal with threats no one else can handle, your mission is simple: eliminate the intruders at any cost, determine the origin of the signal, and contain the potential crisis before it gets out of control.
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ESRB: M - (Mature)
Number of Players: 1
Publisher: Sierra Online, Inc.
Release Date: October, 2006

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