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F.E.A.R. (PC)

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Game: F.E.A.R.
Platform: Windows
Genre: FPS
Developer: monolith Productions
Publisher: Siera Entertainment

F.E.A.R. is a pc game, a very good one too. F.E.A.R. is short for First Encounter Assault Recon, which is a special forces team which specializes in paranormal threats. F.E.A.R. is a first person shooter which may not look very exiting at first sight, but only the opposite is true, this surely is one of the best games I’ve played the last few years.

The good

The graphics, period. F.E.A.R. looks awsome, even on my GeForce 6600 AGP with 256 MB VRAM which can’t pull off the maximum detail level, more towards the minimal to be honest. I refuse to set the resolution lower than 1024×768, I’d rather cut down on some effects and details. So I played with nearly everything set to medium and water detail and reflections and displays set to minimum. I only set model decals to maximum. And even with these settings this game looks pretty damn awsome.
Only a few graphical details actually ever pull off to be gameplay enhancing and I’ve noticed 3 in F.E.A.R.

  1. You can see your own body (legs) when you look down, this actually adds to the intensity as you get much more of a feeling to be inside the game.
  2. Bumpmapped bulletholes. Allthough this might not be something you can’t miss out on, damage to the environment always adds to the fun, especially when it’s done properly like in F.E.A.R.
  3. Dust and sparks. Whenever you shoot anything that doesn’t bleed it will result in a dust cloud flying of the object you hit. If the object happens to be metal, there will be sparks instead of dust. The sparks themselves don’t really add anything to the gameplay, but the dust does. Whenever the details are set so low that the dust is disabled, this really cuts on the fun and intensity of the game. A good thing about the dust is that it doesn’t just blind you, it also blinds your enemies.

Another strong point of F.E.A.R. is the audio. Allthough I have no high-end soundcard (just some integrated sh*t), the audio is really good. Good sound effects on the weapons, very good athmospheric and very minimalistic music and the best thing is that you can hear your enemies talk. Enemies come in squads and every squad has a squad leader who gives orders to the others. Sometimes you hear them scream things like: “Squad! Take cover!”, “Anybody see him?!”, “Oh shit!” or simply “Fuck!” or “Shit, he’s too fast!”. They also just swear at eachother sometimes or they call for reinforcements when they’re losing the battle. And yes, that is fun and adds to the athmosphere and thus to the gameplay of F.E.A.R.

The weapons are also very good, with an exception of the submachinegun, I never like SMGs, they’re too fast and the recoil is mostly so high that they’re almost never effective against anything. But I love using the pistol (or 2 if I happen to have 2). the machinegun, which is a lot slower and more stable than the SMG is a good weapon to use. The Penetrator is also somekind of machinegun, but it’s a lot slower, more accurate and more powerfull. The rocketlauncher needs no explaination. The repeating cannon, this one is not only very effective, it is also great fun to use. It shoots large explosive slugs which are very effective against both heavy armor and unarmored enemies. Heavy armor will be taken out without too much effort and unarmored enemies aren’t left in one piece when hit directly with this thing. I like to compare the repeating cannon with a miniature tankgun. And last, but not least there is the particle cannon. This is somekind of lasergun which isn’t very effective against armor, but unarmored enemies are killed in a most brutal way. When hit they burn up in a blue flame and all which is left is a burned out skeleton.

F.E.A.R. does have it’s share in realism, but the fact that the player isn’t just your average soldier compenstates this. Your reflexes are beyond exceptional and you can enter slowmo to make use of that. Slowmo will slow down the entire gameworld including the player, but looking around and aiming will go as fast as normal and your accuracy will increase significantly. A bit “borrowed” from the Matrix and games like Max Payne, but it’s still good and great fun to use and it can and probably will help you with beating some challenging situations.
A realistic element of the game is that your accuracy will decrease when you’re moving and you can increase your accuracty by aiming extra sharp. Aiming will also slightly zoom your view, the player will hold his weapon closer to his face to aim extra sharp. When aiming you will also move a lot slower.

And the last very cool element is that you can take down enemies by hitting them with the back of your weapon or by doing a slidekick or bycicle kick. when a melee attack is performed while in the air the player will perform a bycicle kick which can be very effective for knocking down enemies silently. I haven’t used the slidekick to take down enemies though, so I can’t really say anything about that.

The Bad

Not much to say here, except for the fact that the environments look very monotonous. Sometimes you get the feeling that you’ve allready been somewhere before and then it turns out that it’s a new place. But the athmosphere and other gameplay elements make up for this and you won’t notice it anymore when you really get into the game.

And them there are system requirements… Allthough my system meets the recommended specs, it’s still unable to run F.E.A.R. with high details turned on with a proper framerate. With my current setting it runs between 25 and 45 frames/second. Which is good enough, but could be better.

And the last thing, this really bothers me, is that I can’t update the game allthough I have bought it… I have the Directors Edition DVD which is version 1.0 and I want to update to version 1.03 and then to version 1.04, but it only gives me the message that I have the wrong version… I’m in contact with VU games for this.

Bottom line

F.E.A.R. is awsome for anyone who likes first person shooters which aren’t too realistic and have a good story, horror elements and great graphics, but keep in mind that you’ll have to have a pretty powerfull pc to run it properly.
I’ll give it a 9/10.


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