A review of the F.E.A.R game series

Jacob Maxwell, Staff Writer

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I’ve always had a soft spot for the Monolith games, whether it be Blood or Shadow of Mordor, so in lieu of Shadow of War coming out soon, I’d like to look at my favorite month series. Of all the games they’ve made,  the Fear series has always been the ones to stick in my head. In 2005 when this game came out it looked fantastic, it was the crisis of it’s time. A game visually stunning enough to push the most powerful PCs to their absolute limit. But it wasn’t just its visuals that put this game apart from the others. This game’s success was big enough to get 2 expansions and 2 sequels.

F.EA.R 1:

In this game you play as the ‘point man’ trying to track down and kill Paxton Fettel with your squad, but as you find out, it’s not as simple as one would think, as you start seeing a powerful little girl, similar to the one found in the ring, and what seems to be the military, trying to kill you.

This game was made at a time when shooters were fast and frantic, near when Serious Sam 2, Quake 4, and Call of Duty 2 were big. Standing out was hard, so what caused this game to stand out? This game had a John Woo inspired bullet time mechanic that slowed down time. As you watch the stellar particle effects and clouds of blood and bodies fly across the screen, it gives you a spectacle that is still very impressive to see today. These pretty visuals only help this game’s dense horror themed environments with attention to detail added to the lighting and environmental storytelling that is super rare to see today. This game does have horror sections that admittedly haven’t aged well, it’s horror relied on the scary little girl trend of the mid 2000’s, excessive blood, and obnoxious amounts of jump scares, but to many, that’s not what makes this game worth playing. It’s the great impact of the guns, these game’s guns may not be unique or interesting, you have pistols, a light machine gun, a heavy machine gun, a nail gun, a rail gun, and most notably a great shotgun. The guns are very by the books. Nothing about what they are stand out, it’s about how good they feel. Every gun has a purpose (except the pistols after the first hour or so) and they are very satisfying to shoot. The nail gun can pin the enemies to walls, the shotgun will cause the enemies to fly across the room in their early rag doll glory and sometimes explode in a glorious cloud of gibs and mist, the rail gun shoots a laser type beam at the enemy causing the flesh to disintegrate off their body leaving just burnt bones, and to add on the great spectacle of over the top violence you have the great slow motion adding great impact.

This is a fairly compact 8 to 9 hour single player campaign with a fairly heavy story focus, it has both an interesting setup and a satisfying resolution and keeps introducing new weapons and enemies throughout. The two big issues I have with this game is the lack of environmental diversity and the lack of much enemy variety. There’s a handful of environments, the game takes place in one city that’s decaying and gray, a color you become very familiar with by the end of the game. You start the game in a warehouse area and after the first hour or so you go to offices then some broken down apartment complexes, to more offices with some parts outside of those offices you walk through alleys and whatnot. Near the end of the game you go to some other more interesting environments, but it stays largely the same throughout the game.

Now the real star of the game would be with the fantastic A.I and encounter design. In this game, you almost never fight more than 5 enemies at any one time. But the enemies work together as squads, and they use the environment to their advantage, constantly trying to flank you and actually using cover, while aggressively trying to kill you. It’s some of the most intense firefights in games to this day. Having the grunt of a game knock over a shelf to use as cover while yelling at his squad that you’re right behind the vending machine, flanking you and using suppressive fire to try to make you stay where you are, while throwing grenades behind the cover so you have to get out in the line of fire. It’s some really smart aggressive A.I that really makes this game something special and worth playing even 12 years on is the great blend of slow motion, cool visuals, and great A.I.

 

In short this game is super worth playing and definitely the peak of the series both difficult and fun, stunning and crazy. The guns feel great, (awesome shotgun) the A.I is superb and the game hold up great.

 

F.E.A.R 1 expansions

 

The fear expansions are both really just more of the same with a few new weapons a few new enemies

 

F.E.A.R. Extraction Point

 

This is a rather weak expansion for fear, one of the major things that made the game look as good as it did was the clutter and the great lighting, but this expansion has none of those, the attention to detail on the lighting is almost non existent, some part of this game look outright terrible. It’s only difficult because it throws like 10 enemies at you at any one time. the only reason to play this expansion would be for the story (which isn’t even canon anymore after FEAR 2 came out) which is fun enough, and if you really can’t get enough of these games. It’s only like 4 to 5 hours so it might be worth playing if you liked the base game.

 

F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate

 

This is a much better expansion with quite good set pieces and some of the best looking environments in the fear one engine. It has around 5 hours of gameplay on the same level as the base game. It has some fun story added. Play this if you liked the base game

 

Really the only reason you have to not play these is if you’re not interested in them, if you’re buying these games you’re most likely getting them with the expansion’s so try them out if you have any interest in them.

 

F.E.A.R 2

 

This game took a big step back from the original in a lot of aspects including its encounter design, it’s gun impact, and it’s level design. The main fault of this game would be the consoleiszation of fear 2, the first fear was very pc focused with the console ports being an afterthought fear 2’s development and release was made around a controler. So the game slowly became a cover shooter where you shoot hordes of brain dead enemies. It’s not as fast frantic or visually fantastic

This game still manages to be an enjoyable experience with some fairly pretty visuals and fun environments (it’s not just grey boxes) with the real standout being the broken down elementary school.

The real shame of fear 2 is the fear of standing out, it found itself blending into the unreal engine 3 feeling game (even if it’s the in house lithtech engine), very linear, squad of wisecracking teammates, and brain dead people to shoot at. Because you’re able to chew through enemies like nothing your weapons now feel weaker, they have next to no impact, the beefy shotgun from fear 1 now it takes up to 2 shots to take out the most basic grunt, the slow motion has become almost not needed at all, it looks like garbage and has no impact on difficulty.

I think deciding on whether you want to play this game or not is depending on how much you like the first fear game in this game the story is good, it expands upon the original game’s story just enough and the game plays well enough that it’s still worth your time.

 

F.E.A.R 2 Reborn

 

This expansion takes an hour or less, it is more of the same. It has some pretty cool set pieces. but it is not worth the ten dollar price tag. Avoid this unless you get it with the base game.

 

F.E.A.R 3

 

I really dislike Fear 3, I don’t think it’s worth playing unless you want a closure to the Fear series and some pretty visuals. The guns yet again feel like crap, the shotgun is very whatever, the rest of the guns feel fine. The story is satisfying enough, in the last few hours. But getting through those last few hours is really hard, because it fails to add anything that feels new. It’s the same few types of encounters for 6 to 7 hours, it drove me mad by the end of it. I wished the game would just end. The enemies are super brain dead, they either run straight for you or hide behind cover and basically wait. While you can now hide behind cover and regenerate your health removing any unfair difficulty there.

The only thing that keeps the game difficult is the challenge system they have, which is fun and different. This system makes it so that if you do a certain task or kill in a certain way, you get experience and you can level up, and while I have no idea what leveling up does, I still think it’s fun.

This game also has a potential online co-op to the game which seems like it could be fun if you had a friend or somehow had someone trying to play this online. The second player plays as Fettle, which is the most fun you have in the game, but to play as him in single player, you have to play the whole game first. I only played one level as him and it is more fun that way, but not worth playing the whole game as Pointman to play Fettle.

This game is not worth playing.

 

F.E.A.R as a whole

 

The first game is very fun and very worth playing but from then it’s a steep downward slope, you should absolutely play the first one, and play the rest at your own discretion. They are all quite cheap at this point and getting them shouldn’t be hard. Play them if you want a fast fun series, don’t if you hate being disappointed.

Just play the first one.

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A review of the F.E.A.R game series