The story is F.E.A.R. is simple. You are a soldier, the typical new guy no one really knows much about. You are a member of an elite institution known as First Encounter Assault Recon (F.E.A.R.). F.E.A.R.'s objective: To investigate and irradiate reported paranormal activity. A military officer name Paxton Fettel, a man with the ability to control elite clone soldiers with his mind, has lost it and it's up to the F.E.A.R. team to stop him. Of course, things don't go as planned as some unusual things begin to unravel and you quickly realize there are larger, more sinister forces at work. And we're not talking about some disgruntled ghost that wants you to get out of his/her house. That would be cake compared to this. What was a mission to apprehend Fattel becomes a desperate struggle for survival, and the dead won't let you go without a fight.
F.E.A.R. the Atmosphere
The overall atmosphere of F.E.A.R. is one of the best qualities of the game. F.E.A.R. nails the creepy, ominous environments that will make your skin crawl and your hair stand on end. And what's great is it's the subtleties that mess with your head as you explore and creep you way around old construction zones and abandoned offices. There is a vast, unsettling sense of emptiness and nothingness, and yet you know you're not alone. The lighting alone is enough to put you on edge from the flickering lights to the dim beacons that beacon your forth like a scion. You know it's just begging to throw something at you, and yet you can't help yourself; like a moth to the flame, you'll be attracted to what little light there is. All around you, you'll see signs of struggle and mayhem, some clearly caused by man, others by supernatural forces. And the suspense will seep into you. You'll happen upon blood-streaked floor and walls, find bodies, and spot something sneaking around a corned just out of sight, creating a slight feeling of panic as you spin a 180 as the paranoia take it toll and you're convinced whatever's caused this must be right behind me. And unlike so many games and movie out there, this isn't jump-at-you scary. There are moments that will make you jump to be sure, but it's the suspense of not knowing that will keep your heart pounding in your chest and form a knot in your throat. It's what you don't see that will scare you, what you think you see, what you anticipate, and the way the game leads you on in an almost come-hither sort of way that is frightening. Nothing is worse than realizing your flashlight is out of battery charge and you have half a pitch-black room to traverse and you hear things all around you. Creeee-py....
F.E.A.R. the Gameplay
The gameplay in F.E.A.R. was, at the time, the most intense, action-packed FPS shooter I had ever played. Slow Time is like Bullet Time in Max Payne. The player has abnormal reflexes and speed that allow him to place pin-point shots, maneuver to cover, or quickly close in for a devastating hand-to-hand assault. Your enemies won't know what hit them. Use it when you're in a jam and then wait for it to recharge. The firefights are fast and fight. Like the character, the New Guy a.k.a Point Man,the player will need fast reflexes to keep up with the fast tempo of the combat. Slow reactions spell D.E.A.T.H. in F.E.A.R. You just can't afford to sit and bide your time as your enemies are shooting away at you, the environment around you being torn to shreds, and even explosions triggering as tanks and fire extinguishers are hit. Move, duck, cover, lean, and fire back. And hope you're a good shot because everything is moving all at once. But keep up the pressure and you should emerge from the rubble victorious.
F.E.A.R. the Story
This section will cover the good and the bad of F.E.A.R.'s story. It's a shame that such an original story is presented through quick conversations with your squad members and through listening to voice mails in the offices, of which there are many, perhaps too many as it can get a little repetitive at some points in the game. The story is complex and even hard to follow at times as you and your team gather clues as to what is going on.Without giving too much away, it is a tragic back-story that is easy to sympathize with as you connect the dots and untangle the web of conspiracy. It's almost like detective work minus living witnesses to provide information.
F.E.A.R. the AI
The AI in F.E.A.R. is spectacular. Some of the smartest AI I've played in a shooter TO DATE. This game was released years ago and I count it among the greatest when it comes to competent, challenging AI. They communicate, flank you, flush you out of cover with grenades, take different points to get a better angle on you. One may lay down some suppressing fire while another guy re-position, to a higher vantage point say, and lays down the heat. Your only option: Take the fight to them. Pick the opportune moment, maybe while one guy is reloading while the second is priming a grenade, dash out, guns blazing, and hope it sticks. The AI reacts to just about everything you do, whether they're being shot or avoiding a grenade, or communicating with their comrades to pinpoint your location. If they get so much as a glimpse of you before you stow away, watch as they spread out and methodically search for you. There just aren't many FPS shooters that can compare to the intelligence and incredible coding and programming of the AI in F.E.A.R Almost no two encounters are the same, and your approach may very well depend on their actions as their reaction to your presence is dynamic. It all depends. Make sure you're prepared.
F.E.A.R the Multiplayer
The multiplayer in F.E.A.R. is fun, if not lacking a bit when compared to other shooters before and after F.E.A.R.'s release. There's the standard death match and capture the flag if I recall correctly. What stood out the most was one player could implement Slow Time, activating his/her position to all other players who will then hone in on you to claim the perk for themselves. It made for fast, desperate chaos, especially in close quarters. Unfortunately, there are only a few maps of note and the online experience wears thin before long. Thankfully, F.E.A.R. focuses on the single player experience, one of the few shooters out there that continues to do so.
F.E.A.R. the Sound
The score in F.E.A.R. is near perfect in its execution. It creates just the right amount of suspense where it's needed and pumps into gear during the fight sequences to get the player's heart racing. This pulse-pounding music transitions well as the player clears a room and find his/herself in a new area with evidence of paranormal activity as spirits, apparitions, visions, and other anomalies hinder your progress or outright try to kill you. At times there's no music at all and the player can hear every little sound. Careful not to knock anything over as you may just lose your cool and unload wherever you think you heard the sound come from, only to discover there's nothing there. And when the music picks up again, you know something is about to go down, just not what that may be. The music will chill your blood. If the visuals made your skin crawl and your hair stand on end, the score and sound effects will engage the player all the more as you will truly feel immersed in the story.
F.E.A.R. the Conclusion
In conclusion, F.E.A.R. is one of the best FPS I've ever played, and its an older game considering when it was launched, The compelling story, and nail-biting atmosphere will hook its talons into you. The one major complain I and many other gamers have is the multiplayer, which left something to be desired to just about all of us it seems. And maybe, the minor annoyance of what seems like some recycled environments. I did get lost a few times as I accidentally backtracked without realizing it in some areas. But once you get over the minor grievences, you'll see what a jewel this game really is. F.E.A.R. earns a well deserved 9 out of 10 and could have easily been a perfect 10 if developers had bumped up the multiplayer a few notches, and worked on the repetitive environments. It's an older game. Prices are low. Go out. Buy it.
Monkey well spent, I guarantee it. IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are considering the following ads make sure you understand that Extraction Point and Perseus Mandate are expansions. You must first install F.E.A.R. for them to work.
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