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

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

"Through the years, there have been all kinds of first person shooters released. There's the usual formula of a good combination of guns with some fast-paced action, and so on. But with F.E.A.R, Sierra has created something new. It's combined the aspects of a Japanese horror film with exciting and frantic action to create one of the best FPSs out there. "

Through the years, there have been all kinds of first person shooters released. There's the usual formula of a good combination of guns with some fast-paced action, and so on. But with F.E.A.R, Sierra has created something new. It's combined the aspects of a Japanese horror film with exciting and frantic action to create one of the best FPSs out there.

The story has a pretty straight-foward concept, but there are many twists and turns along the way. Basically, you are one of the soldiers in F.E.A.R., the First Encounter Assault Recon, and have been sent out on a new assignment. It seems that a man named Paxton Fettel has gone crazy, and is somehow controlling a large group of cloned soldiers. There are some very odd happening as well, things like Fettel eating the brains of people to find out their thoughts and a strange girl following you throughout the game. The game definitely dips into the paranormal realm, seeing as how Fettel is controlling these soldiers telepathically. Your objective is to eliminate Paxton Fettel, which shall be no easy task.

F.E.A.R. does just about everything right when it comes to gameplay. You have a nice array of guns, none feeling so much more powerful than another. Thereís pistols, machine guns, shotguns, snipers, all of the weapons youíll see in other FPSs. Also, all of the weapons pack a nice punch and are fun to play with, which is a key factor in first-person shooters. However since you can only hold three guns at a time, it brings a little strategy into play when deciding what guns to use. Youíve got your grenades as well, which can become useful when youíve got foes hiding and you want to clear them out. And when you find yourself out of bullets, you can use some great moves that are at your disposal, such as a quick scissors kick.

Reflexes are one of the most important aspects of the gameplay. Itís sort of like bullet time from Max Payne and The Matrix in first-person shooter form. With the click of a button, youíll have the advantage as you blast away enemies in slow-motion. Although this is a fun part of the game, fighting in real-time is more exciting, as youíve got to think on your feet.

Youíre going to have to be smart when facing enemies in F.E.A.R. The artificial intelligence in this game is outstanding. There are quite a few examples of this. If one of the soldiers is injured, heíll go limp over to cover to stay out of range, when youíre hiding for too long, an enemy will throw a grenade to flush you out, or when behind cover, soldiers will be sticking their guns out shooting at you to avoid getting shot. Enemies will even use the physics system when trying to create cover for themselves. And thatís just to name a few. You will find yourself in situations when youíre pinned down, fighting for life. The gameís not necessarily hard, but the AI keeps the game challenging, which is nice.

The visuals in F.E.A.R. are some of the best youíll find out there. The lighting is incredible, and really helps create that eerie feel to the game. One moment you may be walking down a dark walkway, and youíll see a shadow, but when turning around, nothing will be there except the flickering of a light. The physics system is very impressive, and just about anything that would move in real life moves in this game if you brush up against it. Although the characters and environments look great, theyíre not varied much. Youíll be in some sort of factory or some buildings, and then outside near pumps or vents pretty much in the whole game. The areas are different in some sense, like factories and then offices and such, but they all look similar. The enemies do look the same, but you canít blame the developers for that really. I mean, they are cloned soldiers. But not every soldier look exactly the same, there are a few types, which is good. This really is the only weakness. I canít complain about much more in the graphics department. Some people may find the problem of system requirements though. Youíre going to need a pretty capable PC to play F.E.A.R. Itís not necessarily a big system hog, but your average computer wonít be able to run it.

Arguably the most well done part of the game is the sound. Throughout the game youíll hear all kinds of sounds, like voices calling out for help, and objects falling. (which may attract your attention to a different direction) You never know what might pop out. The voice overs are well done, even though theyíre limited. When your F.E.A.R. operative is giving directions and when you hear the enemies are primarily the only times there are going to be voice overs. The commands that some of the soldiers call out and the voices of some of the people helping you all sound real and believable, which is about the best you can ask for. The weapons all sound great, capture what type of firepower each one has, and believe me, they sound like the real thing.

The single-player campaign is a fairly good length at about 10 hours. Longer would have been better, but itís not much of a problem. Multiplayer will keep you coming back for more. There arenít any really original concepts in the multiplayer, with the exception of bullet time. Having the advantage of slowing down-time while facing other skilled opponents can be very fun, and mixes things up a bit. Thereís the basic modes: deathmatch, team deathmatch, elimination, team elimination, and capture the flag, which are all done well. To sum it up, the multiplayer is good, but weíve all seen it before in other games. Some more original game modes would have been great, but whatís there adds replay ability long after beating the game.

The presentation in F.E.A.R. is absolutely amazing. You can obviously see a similarity to Japanese horror movies in the game with the various visual trickeries and such. In Japanese horror movies, there are going to be scary moments, images, and sounds, and all of these are in F.E.A.R. And thereís definitely a cinematic feel to the game - it really is like youíre playing a horror movie. Visuals, sounds, and the story all add to the eerie feel of the game. Best of all, the game can be flat-out scary. If you play this game in the dark, with no distractions, the game really pulls you in, and you may be spooked out sometimes. I found myself jumping out of my seat on quite a few occasions.

In the end, F.E.A.R. is just about all you could ask for and more in a first-person shooter. Itís got great gameplay, outstanding visuals, amazing sound, and most importantly, itís fun. It adds something that little games have with that cinematic movie feel to it. The story will keep you playing, as youíll want to learn more, and so will the multiplayer. If you have a capable PC, and youíre a fan of FPSs, youíre going to love this game. Even if youíre not, itís likely that youíll enjoy this game. The many great elements to the game make it highly recommendable, and itís one of the best game to come out in 2005.

amlabella's avatar
Community review by amlabella (July 13, 2006)

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