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F.E.A.R. - PC - Review

Gw

Posted by: jkdmedia

Review Rating 9.2 Amazing

F.E.A.R. (fir) noun. 1a. An emotion of alarm and agitation caused by the expectation or realization of danger. 1b. An instance of such feeling is usually accompanied by a desire to flee or fight. Monolith is ready to redefine the first-person shooter genre with F.E.A.R. It grabs the players by the neck with a stranglehold captivating them to continue to play to the very end.

Handled by Monolith Productions, F.E.A.R is a stellar first-person shooter that provides thrills at every single moment. I must say that it never lets down on the chilling encounters. Monolith before has worked on top notch FPS titles in the past. Ranging from the espionage tactics of No One Lives Forever series on the PC to the work done on the licensed Tron 2.0, Monolith has a good background already established in the genre. Recently they have released Matrix Online (in March) and Condemned: Criminal Origins on the Xbox 360. The later has become a surprise hit for the launch of the 360 and is garnering great reviews. If you have played Condemned already, F.E.A.R. is everything that game is but more. It presents at least double the amount of spine-tingling moments where your hair on your arms stands up. Not only does it have a scarier presentation but the action is incredible. Though I must comment that Condemned is an excellent game on its own right but F.E.A.R. is what you need to be playing this moment!

F.E.A.R. is short for "First Encounter Assault and Recon." You’ll be placed in the shoes of a member of this military group that takes the battle to ghosts, apparitions, and much more. You are supposed to be on an investigation of a military mastermind controlling clones of soldiers telepathically. Sounds easy, right? Right from there though, it takes turn from the normal FBI tactics to the paranormal encounters with ghastly specters. Not too many games can compare to F.E.A.R. since it’s a game that sets a precedent. First-Person shooters oftentimes take the battles to the fields of Europe and Russia for World War II or have battles occur in space fighting off waves of aliens. Fighting ghosts and phantoms from the past, now that’s high concept. Think of this as X-Files meets Half-Life.

The atmosphere in F.E.A.R. is top notch. Not too many developers are able to create an electrifying atmosphere for their games as they usually focus on style over substance. F.E.A.R. contains both graceful style and beautiful substance all in one. There are some cheap tactics to scare you like hallucinations, enemies jumping out from around a corner but for the most part, it’s all authentic terror on a whole new level. The lighting is effective in providing ambience. The excellent sound effects also give you mysterious thoughts of what’s going to happen next. From objects moving for no real reason to scare you to the music that is in the right place, F.E.A.R. is an all-around solid game either way you look at it.

There is a small problem I encountered. The problem is similar to what the original Halo had that was easy to spot. The level designs are all too close in resemblance. Often you’ll be roaming the levels wanting more diversity. If and when they greenlight a sequel, Monolith should immediately address the variety of the levels you’ll be placed in. Maybe take us out of the buildings and into the open world more.

I am leaving out the details of the story for the safety of everyone’s sake that haven’t played it yet. This is one of those games you need to experience all on your own so there are no spoilers. The game draws you in to keep playing and I have no doubts that even the novice FPS players will find joy playing F.E.A.R.. Beware though, the single-player enjoyment will only last 10 to 14 hours ranging on how you play your video games. A lot of the story is still left open in the end so you may not receive the answers you’d hope for to wrap up the conclusion of F.E.A.R.. What is great is that you’ll want to play through twice to make sure you didn’t miss out any of the mysterious storyline you may have not caught the first time.

What I will tell you is that the weapons included in F.E.A.R. pack a good punch. All the standard guns are all there for show. From pistol to rocket launcher, the guns you have come to expect are available to your use. The non-standard guns happen to be some that are familiar with other FPS titles. A nail gun variation found from Quake and Plasma Gun alas Halo are found in F.E.A.R.. If that’s not enough, you can use a cannon gun that is useful in SlowMo mode. If you loved Dual-Wielding in Halo 2, just wait to dual-wield in F.E.A.R.. The pistols are handy towards the last few levels which go against the typical FPS cast. Usually the pistols in a FPS are ineffective by the end of the game but this isn’t the case in F.E.A.R.. The pistols deliver accurate and powerful shots so that dual-wielding makes them even more dangerous. Grenades are at your disposal too. Proximity, Frag and Remote grenades are there for quick deaths without having to fire any rounds from your gun’s chamber. F.E.A.R. limits the player to only carry three weapons at a time so you’ll want to be a little tactical with your weapon choice.

The SlowMo mode is the commonly found Bullet Time that appears in every action game nowadays. To enter SlowMo mode, you’ll be building up the Reflex Meter. Don’t waste the option to enter SlowMo mode too often as the enemies you’ll be facing are smarter than you think. The AI is impressive and fights back with emotion. They’ll adapt to your tactics and try to flush you out with grenades. Taking cover when you fire back, it’s a battle of wits with F.E.A.R.’s squad-based AI. They’ll throw down objects to get in your path to separate you from them so they can continue to fire away at a distance. Monolith has done a phenomenal job with the enemy AI and I am pleased to see that the game goes beyond the graphical beautifications to provide inspiring AI to fight against.

In terms of how it compares to other games that try to scare you, F.E.A.R. is among the best. Monolith did a great job with Condemned and F.E.A.R. is a whole new reality of terror. Compared to other recent horror games like Silent Hill 4, Resident Evil 4, Fatal Frame 3, and Call of Cthulhu, F.E.A.R. sets a whole new standard for horror. The only one that can compare is Resident Evil 4 and that’s in a different league since it’s a long-running series that has taken a turn for the better. F.E.A.R. is a long haunted house ride that you never want to end.

The multiplayer isn’t exactly the next step up I was hoping for. It serves its purpose though. The standard Deathmatch modes and of course the always fun Capture the Flag mode is here too. Monolith has managed to throw in the SlowMo ability. The ability is placed on the map so only one player can use it at a time. When you finally pick it up, you’ll have to fill up the meter before you can use it. The good thing about picking it up the power up is that the whole team benefits from using it. The opposition will slow down and you can take advantage of this reward your team now has. While the multiplayer isn’t groundbreaking - it is fulfilling enough to maintain your attention for the time being.

F.E.A.R. is 2005’s best first-person shooter that I have played. Players who have completed the single-player campaign are now eagerly awaiting a sequel. If you have a great surround-sound system, be prepared to remain attentive throughout the whole game. You’ll need to be attentive due to the suspense F.E.A.R. throws at the players around every corner. Next time around, hopefully Monolith packages in an even better multiplayer and fills up the plot holes that there are with the story.

Minimum System Requirements:
Windows XP/2000 (Win 64 supported)
Pentium 4 1.7GHz or better
512MB RAM
64MB GeForce 4 Ti or Radeon 9000
5GB hard drive space
Direct X 9.0 compatible 3D video card and sound card.

Review Scoring Details for F.E.A.R.

Gameplay: 9.6
F.E.A.R. is certainly Game of Year material. Monolith is establishing themselves as a developer to watch out for in the future. Adding this to their repertoire, they now have two stellar FPS franchises including with No One Lives Forever.

Graphics: 9.6
You’ll want a top-of-the-line graphics card to play this.  The physics could use a little work but maybe I am a little too spoiled with Half-Life 2.

Sound: 9.2
Every gun is distinctive enough to tell each gun apart when fired. The voice-overs never did let me down and I always wanted to hear more from the characters within the game.

Multiplayer: 8.4
This is the only blemish on F.E.A.R.’s record. It doesn’t do anything outstanding but it is suitable.

Difficulty: Medium
You may take several sittings to actually finish a level due to how the horror aspects are presented. I was freaked out from start to finish.

Concept: 9.0
While the story isn’t totally original, it is presented in a beautiful manner. Monolith has done a perfect job with telling a story.

Overall: 9.2
I wish I could have played this for a little longer but for what is here, I enjoyed every moment. Is it the next Half-Life? It may very well be since anticipation for a sequel is rising every day as more and more play F.E.A.R. for the first time.

 

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