Welcome to the second video game review of this year’s Macabre Month of Horror.
Currently there are 3 F.E.A.R games. I’ll be reviewing each of them, one a day, so check back the next couple of days to see the other games covered as well.
The first F.E.A.R game came out on October 18th 2005. This is the 8th anniversary of the game.
F.E.A.R is a first person game and the first person effect is done really well here, better than in most games. You move more realistically and little details such as your hands or legs coming into frame at certain points are a nice touch. Since the game is in first person, you have complete control over what you are seeing, and thus the creepy environments and scare moments are made more effective, by the fact that you are controlling it.
F.E.A.R. is made up of two main parts, shooting, and horror. The main complaint I have with the game is that the two parts are not balanced well. When the shooting segments start the tension and threat of horror leaves quickly. The creepy score and setting can make it a tad more creepy than other fps games but I would like to have seen the two parts integrated better.
The shooting is quite dated. This is not necessarily a bad thing however, just different. It’s a little jarring at first and can take some getting used, but once you get into the swing of things the shooting can be incredibly fun. The shooting hearkens back to old school shooters like Half Life. The game overall has an old school vibe, which really grew on me and I came to appreciate it fully. You cannot use the sights on guns as you can in most modern shooters, other details, such as the hidden pickups, manual use of health packs, and exploration feel reminiscent of older shooters.
The exploration in F.E.A.R. is great. It was a smart move to not give you a mini-map. While it can be confusing where to go and easy to get lost at times, it more frequently works in the game’s favor, to make you feel nervous and frantically searching for an exit. It is also tremendously rewarding at times, figuring out how to progress to the next area.
The graphics definitely look sub-par by today’s standards but they get the job done. There are some nice graphical details and effects, but the game lacks a layer of polish that would’ve made it look great. The level design can get a little repetitive, but that’s not too much of a problem, you get the feeling that you’re trapped in a huge haunted building.
The difficulty ramps up steadily throughout and always remains challenging without becoming overbearing. New enemies or challenges are introduced every once in awhile to keep the game from becoming too repetitive. As you get better at the game, it gets more difficult. By the end of the game you are in a furious rush with a higher quantity and more challenging enemies.
There are some very slow load times. I’m playing this on the PS3 and supposedly load times are not an issue on the xbox 360 and PC versions of the game.
There are some sound balancing issues. Things are off level, such as your characters footsteps being incredibly loud, while important dialogue is very quiet. Things frequently sound as if they are coming from the wrong direction and while this is fine in the horror segments, it can be annoying in the shooting segments.
Aside from the balancing issues the sound design is great. The sound effects are all superb and the horror score is top notch. F.E.A.R also knows how to use a normal droning sound and make it terrifying. Never has a news jingle been as terrifying as it is in F.E.A.R.
The A.I. is great, and has been hailed by many as one of the most innovative and influential A.I. systems ever. It’s kind of ironic that even though most of the enemies you’re fighting are literal clones, they still feel more real and personal than most modern games. The panicked banter between enemies that you overhear on their radios sells their realism.
The lead designer of F.E.A.R said that he wanted the shootouts in the game to have the intensity of the tea-house shootout from Hard Boiled. That’s a great role model to try and live up to, and would explain the inclusion of the slow motion “Reflex Time” and the ability to dual wield handguns. Unfortunately the dual wielding is missing from the sequels.
You also have a few gadgets at your disposal, which again, hearkens back to old Half-Life style games. You have grenades, proximity mines, and remote bombs, which are more useful than they are in most games. All of these elements come together to create a really great FPS experience, once you get used to the style. F.E.A.R can be thought of as an awesome first person shooter, wrapped up in a horror game.
The horror is done really well in F.E.A.R, it’s actually one of the flat out, best horror games. F.E.A.R has effective psychological scares that don’t always need to rely on gore to try and freak you out. F.E.A.R can be in your face sometimes, but it also understands that sometimes it’s scarier when you don’t see or know what’s happening. They understand that it’s sometimes more effective to walk in on the aftermath of a blood strewn room rather than to witness the strewing. It’s really that scary of a game, but it has a really good creepy atmosphere and some great and creative horror set pieces.
The makers of the game, Monolith Studios, put a lot of time and care into the game, doing their best to make it as fun and scary as possible with their smallish budget. Their devoted team is a big part of the reason why this game works so well. They had a tremendous passion for the project that made it excel. Unfortunately the passion didn’t last throughout the entire series.
F.E.A.R is a fantastic game, one of the best to play in October around Halloween. You buy it by clicking right “HERE” and keep checking back all October long for a new horror review everyday for the entire month of October.