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F.E.A.R. Review

Developer: Monolith Publisher: Sierra
Release Date: October 11, 2005 Also On: None

When you hear it, it may sound a tad lame. F.E.A.R.? That’s the name? Well, I guess the name isn’t so bad, just the fact that they make it an acronym. First Encounter Assault Recon is what it stands for. When I first started hearing about this game, it looked like a sucky Doom 3 imitator, but after playing the recently released single-player demo, I think differently.

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F.E.A.R. takes the Doom 3 engine (or what looks exactly like it), and expands on it, making it into a more functional, playable game. What I mean by that is, yes everyone, you can have the flashlight on with a weapon. But more than that, you have “reflexes�, which is slow-motion which gives you the edge on enemies. Also, there are more weapons, and grenades that can be thrown without switching to them (G key). Plus, use medkits at your own discretion. You pick them up around the levels but you don’t recover any health unless you press Z and use one.

The story is…odd. I can’t decide if it’s good or bad. What I saw from the intro to the demo is that you are a new recruit and this crazy cannibalistic dude makes an army of clones which are controlled psychically. Sounds cool, but think about it. That means all the enemies can look exactly the same, which would be the easy way out of making a good story. However, to the game’s credit, there are a good number of fairly unique bosses (2 in the short demo). There are also a lot of cool, diverse weapons ranging from pistols, shotguns, and assault rifles, to crossbows and giant plasma people-disintegrating guns.

On the subject of actual fear, I can’t compare it to Doom 3 because Doom 3’s fear is based on suspense and monsters, whereas in F.E.A.R., they use creepiness and a bunch of little girls that giggle (apparently that’s super-creepy). However, there really are a lot of scary moments, when they surprise you at the bottom of a ladder or slam a door shut only for you to turn around and see that damn girl again.

The AI is again, just different from other games. For instance, in Half-Life 2, if you shoot at someone and they see you, in most cases they will chase you down. But in F.E.A.R., they will hide behind a box or find a strategic place to pick you off. Like Call of Duty and some other shooters, there is an aiming mode for every weapon which makes you walk slower but gives you better accuracy.

This is a very graphically demanding game. Basically like Doom 3 but with more people on-screen. Speaking of screens, there are no load screens once you get in the demo, which may seem like a good thing, but trust me, it’s a curse. There are places in which you will round a corner only to be cut down to 1 frame per second while the game loads the next area. No polite loading screen like in Half-Life 2.

F.E.A.R. has a scheduled release date of Fall 2005 for the PC, and looks like a “classic in the making�. Doom 3 raised the bar for first-person shooters, Half-Life 2 nearly perfected it, and F.E.A.R. is raising it again. Make sure you pick up a copy this fall, or download the demo at the official site, http://www.whatisfear.com .

Written by Dave