Saturday, January 9, 2010

Game Review: F.E.A.R

    If someone ever asks me what scares me more in the horror industry-books, movies, or video games, my answer is always going to be video games. I'm not just watching people getting murdered-I am the person about to get murdered! Not only that, but from a technical standpoint, the screen is three inches from my face, my headphones are blasting noise in my ears, and it's dark in my bedroom. So yeah, video games scare me considerably more than movies ever will.

    So with that in mind, I'm going to do a review of F.E.A.R and F.E.A.R 2. Now, the first rule of the F.E.A.R games is this-we do not talk about the expansion games ever. And the second rule of F.E.A.R is that we do not talk about the expansion games ever. Got it? Good.

    The general plot of F.E.A.R is that a little girl named Alma is born with psychic powers. Her father and the government lock her in a vault, impregnate her twice, harvest her kids and then kill her.

    Um...mature themes anyone?

    Anyway, one of the kids, Paxton Fettel, communicates with Alma's ghost and since there just happens to be a clone army nearby (yes I am serious) he uses this army to find his mother's body, and kill anyone who gets in the way. You as the player are a part of F.E.A.R (That's First Encounter Assault Recon, for those that were wondering) and have been drafted to stop Fettel and Alma.

    There was a lot of hype when I bought this game, and trust me, it's well-earned. This game is freaky at the right times. As a player, you might be wandering down a hallway one moment and suddenly the image of a cannibalized man flashes right before your eyes for no reason. Another great scene is when you do a routine task like climb a ladder, and as you turn around Alma is staring directly into your soul. Genuinely scary stuff.

    However, this game does have a few flaws. For the most part you will know exactly when it's time to fight and when it's time to be scared. The music changing on you is a dead giveaway, and trust me, you will be groaning when you hear the action soundtrack. While the fighting is good, by the end of the game you will feel like you have fought a literal army, because you go through so much of it and it gets really repetitive.
    In F.E.A.R you start as a rookie in a steroid-taking-heavily-armed-ready-to-kick-some-ass team...who leave you after the first level. You will literally spend the next few levels looking for your own team leader who seems to have abandoned you, and trust me, you will never see him again. Another teammate resurfaces towards the end of the game, acting like she never left to begin with. In retrospect, abandoning the main character and coming back towards the end of a game is a good survival tactic, but I like characterization in my game, dammit! I want to have a reason to care about the characters who die horribly later.

FINAL GRADE-4 stars out of 5. Great game, but it needed more scary moments and less combat sequences.

See, Monolith? I'm not talking about the expansion packs. Promise!


BigWords said...

I didn't mind the endless corridors (they're part and parcel of the FPS experience), but the ugliness of some of the sections really bothered me for some reason. It isn't an entirely cohesive game, with the scares and the shootouts sitting uneasily together, not to mention one of the dumbest endings of the last few years. Oh, and there were enough bits stolen from other games to make me question the originality of the truly original ideas - to think they had the nerve to credit an "original story."

There was one or two moments that I actually jumped while playing F.E.A.R., so it does its' job as far as the scares are concerned - the first time that the dude turns to dust (in the stairwell at the start) I probably squealed louder than is socially acceptable to admit, but the later 'scares' were less effective.

It's a solid game, but not one I feel the need to revisit any time soon, despite not managing to get all the Achievements for the 360.

Natasha Bennett said...

The part in the stairwell definitely freaked me out, as well as a scene in Perseus Mandate when you go down an alleyway, reach a dead end, and see another dust-ghost as soon as you turn around.

Regrettably, my five-year-old computer could barely support the graphics in F.E.A.R 1, so the sound scene and spooky music was off.