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F.E.A.R. First Encounter Assault Recon

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  • F.E.A.R. First Encounter Assault Recon

    I must be getting old.

    As a Gamer, I know I'm suceptible to the hype: the glowing reviews, the trailers, the well designed websites, the whispers of how good the game will be in some random forum.

    So I have a love hate relationship with "game release day." You know what that is, because you are a Gamer too.

    Somewhere, sometime, we have all felt it: the release of a hot new title is like a mini-Christmas morning, full of promise of 20-40 hours of singleplayer bliss, or a riveting multiplayer experience.

    Then the reality sets in: the game is nowhere near as good as the hype.

    I admit: when I was 10 years younger, I did not care. If the game entertained me for 10 or 15 hours, I would consider the money well spent. As I'm getting older, dropping $40-$50 dollars on a game that can't hold my attention starts to tick me off.

    F.E.A.R., First Encounter Assault Recon, is a good example of this.


    You got the fear....

    Monolith, the developer behind this game, tries hard. You can tell. Every aspect of the game feels polished. From the textures, to the artificial intelligence, it seems like Monolith's team weighed their options, and tried to make the right decision.

    For all of the polish, F.E.A.R. falls short.


    Oh, Hell No!

    You are a member of an elite team sent in to mop up some Black Ops mess the government created, and when you get there, all sorts of weird things start to happen.

    There is a strong paranormal element to the game, but it never really bleeds into Silent Hill type horror. Lots of blood, a creepy little girl, and some Japanese horror movie style cutscenes are as bad as it gets.


    This guy is still waiting for a A level FPS

    F.E.A.R. is pretty much a straight FPS for all the bluster.

    It's straight rip of Doom III, and countless other titles.

    Like Doom III, the game that F.E.A.R. will most often be compared to, the setting is set with darkened corridors, random noises, things that move without anyone in them, and cut scenes.

    Actually, much of what passes for a story is told in the cutscenes. We get to meet the rest of the team, get orders, and meet Paxton Fettel, our nemesis.


    Can someone get Mr. Fettel a Kleenex?

    I guess it's exposition. It does drive you on through the next set piece.

    Note to Monolith: No One Lives Forever (1 & 2) had great writing, and didn't seem like a hack of someone else's work. Stick to your roots in the future, ok?

    Once you are back in control of the game, you get to meet the real star of the show, the AI. Your opponents are not varied: there is a batallion of cloned soldiers between you and Paxton, and you have to slog through everyone of them.


    Ready for your close up boys?

    They are smart, however. They execute real tactics, including cover fire, flanking, etc. They seem to have orders to capture, because they press the combat into hand and hand whenever they can. After slogging through Doom III, it is refreshing to have a game that challenges you. The AI will keep you on your toes.

    Another game decision that will keep you on your toes is the lack of health packs. On normal difficulty, there is tons of ammo, both in the form of pistols lying on desks, and from the fallen enemies.

    Off topic question: if all these places were so heavily armed, how come they didn't defend themselves in the first place?

    Back to the health packs: they are few and far between, which means you tend to think twice before going into a room.

    Luckily, the developers gave us two outs: corner leans, and bullet time.

    Ok, they do not call it "bullet time", but if you've been within 5 feet of a Max Payne game, you know it for what it is. You can look around a corner, and get a glimpse of what is ahead. If you don't like what you see, you can use the bullet time, and gain an edge on the enemy. There are many times throughout the game where you will rely on these crutches.

    The game sure looks good, although at a hardware cost: on my 1.53 ghz AMD/128MB Nvidia 5700LE system, single digit frames per second are normal. To Monolith's credit, the game never feels like it is stuttering, and even at low FPS levels, the controls are still fluid.

    Once you are through with this solid single player experience...well, there is an online component to the game I suppose. Uninspired, like the rest of the game, but it's there. It's more than what Doom III had, but I fear that is damning with faint praise.

    Overall, F.E.A.R. is a game that makes me wishing there were more too it, and angry that there was not.

    The elements of a great gamer are there: great graphics, smart AI, entertaining levels, solid coding. For some reason, these elements just do not assemble to a great game.

    Maybe with some better writing, and drawing on their creative past, they will fix that in the inevitable F.E.A.R. 2.

    Maybe I won't be as angry by then.

    Summary: Doom III, only better. Slightly.
    Score: B
    Last edited by Mateo; 11-08-2005, 02:04 AM.

  • #2
    Re: F.E.A.R. First Encounter Assault Recon

    I bought this title last Friday and have been playing it when I'm not sucked into BF2.
    Mateo has done a pretty thorough review so I'll just add some thoughts I have, which some may be duplicated.

    Positives:
    As you've said, the AI is incredible and even when you start to feel like your repeating the same combat scenes, the AI will do something different almost everytime.

    The bullet time effects really highlight all the combat scene effects very well, like shockwaves from explosions, enemies screaming, paper and sparks flying, the pump action of the shotgun...definitely increases the immersion for me. I can't get enough bullet time action.

    I've admittedly gotten spooked several times during slow areas when I'm just exploring the offices.

    Graphics are top notch, I run most of them on high without trouble (Athlon 64 3400, GeForce 6800GT, Gig of Corsair XMS RAM).

    I dig the ability to lean around corners.

    Negatives:
    Game is pretty linear. They try to implement alternate routes scattered here and there to the same objectives but it doesn't help alleviate the linear feel of the game.

    Story won't blow your socks off.

    Combat without bullet time feels goofy. Guns are awkward and don't have the same great effects. (for instance the MG sounds really weak and the aim is crap)

    Tough to showcase the great effects without a decent system setup.


    Overall:
    8 out of 10
    A great buy for action shooter fans.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: F.E.A.R. First Encounter Assault Recon

      Nice work Mateo!!

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: F.E.A.R. First Encounter Assault Recon

        Good review, mateo. I agree.

        One thing it did better than Doom3 was it didn't have "Monster Closets" - imps just sitting around, waiting for you to step on that invisible spot on the floor so they can jump out at you (probably behind you). The bad guys always showed up intelligently, in ways that made sense.

        Otherwise, FEAR was a huge 'falling-down' for Monolith. Poor showing.

        The AI was good - not incredible. The marines from half-life still outshine these guys for tactics.

        I'd give it a 6.5/10. But part of that may be my resentment that it's not a better game. :(
        "You live and learn. Or you don't live long."
        - Lazarus Long

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: F.E.A.R. First Encounter Assault Recon

          FEAR is the best game to come out of the monolith's studio's since NOLF 1. The graphics, story, atmosphere, sound design, production values, and (most imporantly) the combat are all prime examples of the best in the FPS genre. The middle parts can drag on a little, but the consistantly top-quality combat and engaging story will keep you hooked to the end (which does come a little fast, I must say).

          Doom 3 could only imagine pulling off what FEAR has. Doom 3 has some of the most simplistic combat ever in a FPS. Unlike the masterpiece known as Doom 2, there is hardly any strategy or thought involved in any enemy encounter in Doom 3. The AI isn't just stupid, it is about as predictable as they come. The weapons are so unbalanced that the only thing determining what weapon you choose in each situation is the amount of ammo you have. It was pretty, but the actual combat (AKA. gameplay) was as bland as they come.

          FEAR, on the other hand, does almost everything right. The combat is brutal, engaging, and chocked full of strategy. Like Halo (one of the best games ever BTW) FEAR focuses on the quality of the combat engine rather than the quantity of enemies you face. The fact that you can't take many hits forces you to approach each situation with caution, use slow-mo effectively, use the most beneficial weapon for the given opposition, make good use of cover and throw grenades. The atmospheric sound effects and horror sequences are scary as hell and are a refreshing break from the exhausting combat. If there is any problem with the game it is that the middle portion of the game a 2-hour long hunt for fettle through relatively bland environments, it isn't bad enough to make you stop playing the game, but it is worth noting.

          Does it live up to the hype? Hell if I know. I stay far away from pre-release developer hype. What I do know is that FEAR is a high-quality interactive thriller that will never cease to amaze you throughout the 11 or so hours you take to complete it. What it lacks in originality it more than makes up for in plain fun factor. Add another winner to monolith's track record.

          Final score: A-

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: F.E.A.R. First Encounter Assault Recon

            I felt the same way, another rip off of Doom 3. I tried the demo and was turned off by the game. Its a good thing I didn't go buy it. I liked Call of Duty 2 though less linear than the first, but not as hard as the first.
            XBOX GT: STEALTH C4T

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: F.E.A.R. First Encounter Assault Recon

              I must disagree with Mateo on this one.

              The positives are there in every way he cited. It is a VERY Beautiful game, and the AI is simply AMAZING, but I cannot say the true fear aspect was not there.

              In the same vein as Doom 3 (true they are a bit alike but I would not say it is a copy by any means), what scares you is what isn't even there. YOU scare YOURSELF.

              I can't say this is a game for the middle of the day around anyone. You should play it at night with the lights off when everyone is sleeping. Only then will you scare yourself enough to see it's true beauty!

              Then... the setbacks. I for one hated the fact that a couple of the guns in the game (The MP5 clone, for example) fired in clunky bursts. I would hit the mouse button, and then about a third of a second later three bullets would go out. There is no way to fire shorter burts, or chain bursts (IE 3 and then another quick two), it's 3 or 5 or the full mag, or nothing.

              Maybe that can be fixed in the control scheme, but I wasn't able to find that.

              The use of bullettime is also nothing new, but it's ALWAYS fun in games. I am partially biased towards it, hell my favorite game is the original Max Payne. There were so many ways to do EVERYTHING. Not in the aspect that you could change the ending, or that you could take even alternate routes. Just the options you had in your killing. Bullet time sniping with the boltgun, or run and gun from the back with a rifle? Maybe bullet time using the shotgun, run up and splatter the baddies into smithereens (or limbs) at literal point blank range?

              Those, to me, are part of replayability. That plus the small ammount of alternate paths makes this solid for a FEW playthroughs.

              Overall, 8.8/10

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: F.E.A.R. First Encounter Assault Recon

                I tried the demo and liked the scary aspect to it. But then you go from the scary to being back blowing the crap out of clone-troopers. The change is so sudden that it all feels disjointed.

                As for bullet time what's the point? They make an area so hard that the only way you can get through it is to use a cheat? Why not just cut out that crap and make it so you can get through it without cheating? Pointless addition if you ask me and only lamers need it anyway ;)
                Jex.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: F.E.A.R. First Encounter Assault Recon

                  Originally posted by Pfhor
                  Like Halo (one of the best games ever BTW)
                  Ah, you lost all credibility right there... :icon_frow
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                  • #10
                    Re: F.E.A.R. First Encounter Assault Recon

                    Originally posted by CingularDuality
                    Ah, you lost all credibility right there... :icon_frow
                    /agree
                    "You live and learn. Or you don't live long."
                    - Lazarus Long

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: F.E.A.R. First Encounter Assault Recon

                      Originally posted by StrikeFear
                      /agree
                      You mean you didn't like the rooms of repitition or the bridges of boredom? How about the corridors of copy and paste?

                      Surely you loved all of that, right?

                      lol ;)
                      Jex.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: F.E.A.R. First Encounter Assault Recon

                        Originally posted by jex
                        You mean you didn't like the rooms of repitition or the bridges of boredom? How about the corridors of copy and paste?

                        Surely you loved all of that, right?

                        lol ;)
                        LOL.

                        Maybe the best cut-and-paste designed game ever.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: F.E.A.R. First Encounter Assault Recon

                          Okay, maybe if Pfhor had said, "like Marathon (one of the best bames ever BTW)" I'd be agreeing. :)
                          ~~ Veritas simplex oratio est ~~
                          No matter how far a wizard goes, he will always come back for his hat. --T. Pratchett

                          <---- You know you're getting old when you rely on your forum meta-data to remind you how old you are.

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                          • #14
                            Re: F.E.A.R. First Encounter Assault Recon

                            Originally posted by TG_Mateo
                            LOL.

                            Maybe the best cut-and-paste designed game ever.
                            They didn't even cut-and-paste in most cases. They just had you play the same series of levels twice, once forward, and once backward.

                            Sheesh.
                            "You live and learn. Or you don't live long."
                            - Lazarus Long

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: F.E.A.R. First Encounter Assault Recon

                              I disagree with much of the review. F.E.A.R is only similar to DooM3 on the surface; sure, they're both scary first person shooters with small corridors and a bunch of enemies, but I feel that F.E.A.R is a much better game. The combat in DooM3 is basically just pointing and clicking. F.E.A.R's guns feel much more tacticle; when you dive through a window, kick an enemy soldier, then riddle two others with a machinegun in slow motion, it's a much better feeling than what you get in other first person shooters where you would basically just circle strafe your opponent, or sidestep a bit. F.E.A.R's gunfights FEEL like gunfights, as both you and your opponents try to flank each other and flush each other out of cover with grenades. Where other first person shooters just have shooting, F.E.A.R has combat. Probably not worth the 50 bucks though, since the multiplayer's boring and it's not a long game. Oh well; game prices go down after a while, and it's not like the game gets worse.

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