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F.E.A.R: First Encounter Assault Recon (Xbox 360) artwork

F.E.A.R: First Encounter Assault Recon (Xbox 360) review

"15 minutes of FEAR is the most fun you can have with an FPS. Put it on the hardest difficulty you can handle and it's easy to forget about Half-Life and Halo after even just a few firefights. "

15 minutes of FEAR is the most fun you can have with an FPS. Put it on the hardest difficulty you can handle and it's easy to forget about Half-Life and Halo after even just a few firefights.

One of the first takes place in a shipyard full of cargo containers, with you strolling in through a control station in the southwest corner. Play it like any other game and head right into the fray. Nobody knows you're there, and the first guy won't even make a peep before you empty a few bullets into his skull. Now merrily you'll move on and get ready to pounce on the next--wait, what? Since when are videogame enemies smart enough to swarm you after hearing a few gunshots?

Oops. The AI in this game isn't so bad after all. Try again. This time you'll just sneak up on that first chump and kick him to death, and then take potshots at everybody else without staying in one place for too long. Whittle the enemy down to just a shotgunner and a machinegunner; the latter pops in and out of cover, but the neat slow-mo ability will let you line up the trick headshot you'll need to for him to finally stop bothering you.

Unfortunately, while you were distracted, his buddy went all the way around and crawled under a few things just to empty some 00 buckshot into your backside. Oops again. But eventually you'll crack it, and the satisfaction is unbeatable--because you're not playing on easy, right?

The problem is that combat is the only thing FEAR does right. Ignore that and it's a late 90's corridor shooter, and not a particularly good one either. Putting aside a few neat but underpowered toys like a rifle that pins people to walls, the weapons range from a machinegun to a submachinegun to a machine-pistol. Levels include a grey water treatment facility full of corridors, a grey office building full of corridors, and a corridor-filled slum that's--queue a shocked crowd noise--greyish brown!

It doesn't help that the checkpoints in this Xbox 360 can be few and far between, at least when they don't go the opposite route of popping up every twenty seconds. It's tough to keep replaying longer chunks of such a repetitive game.

Much was made of FEAR's story and the bits of incorporated J-horror, but they do little to relieve the monotony. A little girl appearing out of nowhere and giggling until the floor fills with blood isn't clever. Ostentatious gore barely scares ten year olds, and it's hard not to laugh at reviews calling FEAR a “terrifying experience” when you've played Silent Hill 2.

FEAR is intense, but it's nothing else. Not creative, not original, and in the end, not particularly engaging. 15 minutes of fun recycled for ten hours doesn't make a great game, and it's tough to recommend the game when there's a demo.

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Featured community review by mardraum (April 06, 2008)

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