Review: F.E.A.R. First Encounter Assault Recon

Review: F.E.A.R. First Encounter Assault Recon

The 2nd Annual 9 Days of Heck comes to a close with an excellent FPS about some guy being chased by a ghost girl and some very smart cookies!

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Year: 2005

Played on: Xbox 360

Also on: PC, PS3

Developer: Monolith

Publisher: Vivendi Universal, WB Games

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She’s right behind you

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Date posted: October 31, 2018

feare

PREMISE

So I know what you’re asking. Why did I end my 2nd spooky game review event with a super action packed first person shooter that has *some* horror scenes sprinkled in? Well the answer is simple. F.E.A.R. deserves it. The first game in a trilogy, FEAR is worth playing though today, and here’s a few reasons why.

But first, backstory. You play as the pointman, who is part of a group of specialists who deal with paranormal occurrences, among other things (the group being the titular F.E.A.R.). You are sent to find and kill a man named Paxton Fettel, a madman with his own personal army of psychic soldiers. However, the Pointman doesn’t realize what’s really going on…..

PROS

FEAR is a first person shooter, and boy, is it solid- I mean it is made by Monolith Studios (Blood, No One Lives Forever, AvP 2) so it should not be any surprise! For a 2005 game, this game has some mechanics that were way ahead of its time. The ability to lean from cover, for example- something other shooters didn’t implement until years later- and yes, it works well! Other features include the ability to see your body in first person- a rarity back in the mid-2000’s- and the reflex (IS A LONELY CHILD!) mode similar to the bullet time mechanic in Max Payne, which is great for hectic situations that spring up now and then.

Of course, by and large FEAR’s most prominent feature is the enemy AI. This AI has to be some of the smartest AI I have seen in a video game, even by today’s high standards. The enemy soldiers seem to know your every move, and act accordingly. You try and hide? They hunt you down! Go up ladders? They can climb them too! The don’t have cover? They’ll make their own, and their buddies will lay down suppressive fire. They duck, weave, and flank, and overall, act like a coordinated task force with one target on their mind. YOU!

fear1
The AI in FEAR is great, and seems to know your every move- just like Garry Kasparov!

Of course, the super-soldiers aren’t the only thing after you…. As you make your way down dark corridors and empty space, you soon come across something even more threatening…

A little girl, dark black hair can be seen, just in the corner of your eye. She doesn’t like you very much.

Yes, when you’re not dealing with an impressive armed force, you have to deal with Alma- a strange ghost who simply won’t leave you alone, haunting you through your adventure. This adds a refreshing supernatural/horror element to the game that gives it’s own atmosphere, and turns what would have been another shooter (with great AI, mind you) into a beast of it’s own. The urban sprawl just adds to this, making things like office buildings and empty city streets into horror set pieces. It simply has to be played to be seen!

fear12
Go ahead and go down the corridor. I’m sure you’ll be fine!

Apparently, the multiplayer was great too. Sadly, the online servers have been shut down, rendering multiplayer dead in the water. Maybe someday someone will resurrect it somehow….

CONS

I feel like some of the enemies in the game were cheap. Yes, I know their smart, but come on man! It’s mostly the bigger armored enemies and such. Also, I don’t recall a lot of health pickups around. I know this game has horror elements, but when your up against a battalion of supersoilders, some supplies would be nice!

While the game’s environments hold up, I don’t think some of the character models have. I mean, look at this guy! He looks like Dennis Nedry from Jurassic Park on crack!

180px-Norton-Mapes
Yeah, face modeling just wasn’t there back in 2005.

This game, like a lot of the games I cover in the 9 Days of Heck event, is not for the faint of heart. There are some encounters with Alma that feel cheap and are defiantly jump-scares. Not a total dealbreaker- just thought you should know!

The series is, sadly, dead. FEAR 3 was made by a completely different company (and it shows!) I would love to see this series come back. Hey maybe you can a more multiplayer focused game! I hear that FEAR had some great mulitplayer and-

FEAR-Online-650x450
NEVERMIND! I TAKE THAT BACK! I TAKE THAT BACK!

Also, for some reason, you can only buy the Steam version in a bundle with FEAR 2 and 3. Don’t know why, as you can buy it by itself on GOG. Bet it’s licensing issues….

-PORTLANDIA-

It should be obvious which is best, but here’s a brief breakdown

PC- The original version, and of course, the best (obviously!) Mouse and keyboard support, better resolution and framerate. Also, modding capabilities. Only downside is that the game might have some issues running on modern systems. As mentioned above, Steam version is only available in bundle with FEAR 2 and 3, but also comes with all the expansions and DLC. Also available on GOG.

Xbox 360- The version I played. All in all, perfectly acceptable. Released about a year after the 360 came out, and you know what- it still looks fine! Some frame rate drops, and doesn’t look terrible. You also have to play with a controller. Fun Fact: This version was released on Halloween, 2006! Contains a bonus mission that I don’t remember playing. Weird….

PS3- Pretty much the 360 version, but with longer loading times and graphics with lower-resolutions. Also has a different bonus mission. Most likely the worst version, but not enough to call it a bad port or anything.

Clear Winner: PC

Alright: Xbox 360 > PS3

FINAL VERDICT

FEAR is another one of those games that have a positive reputation, but I still feel needs more appreciation, for some reason. It showed that games can be a mix of genres without one overriding the other too much, similar to what Resident Evil 4 did. It may not seem like the best pick for Halloween, but I really think it’s that deserving of your attention!

6score

Agree? Disagree? Good! Leave a comment about how terrible my taste is in the comments below!

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