F.E.A.R.

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F.E.A.R. on Steam

MSRP: $9.99 (includes 2 expansion packs)

Platforms: Windows, XBox 360, Playstation 3

Release: 10/17/05


Normally, when I boot up a game with the intent of using it for the blog, I allot myself anywhere from 30-90 minutes of play time.  I only played F.E.A.R. for about 45 minutes, having completed the first two intervals (F.E.A.R.’s version of levels), not because I had enough information (although I did) or because I was bored, but because this game is pretty freaking spooky and I managed to freak myself out while home alone. Oops.

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My fault, I guess, for not taking the description of “survival horror FPS” seriously enough. Or possibly for assuming that an 11 year old game played at an outdated resolution couldn’t possibly be scary. I definitely got lulled into the easy-mode exploring and was not prepared.

F.E.A.R. has four difficulty modes, and since I’m usually pretty rubbish at shooters and I was actually more interested in the story than in the mechanics, I went with the easiest. If you have any skill at all at FPS games, skip the bottom of the barrel difficulty. I was doing fine pretty much just waving my gun hand in the general vicinity of the guys shooting at me, and they kept falling down.

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Of course, this leaves me in the unfortunate position of not being able to tell you much of anything about the game mechanics – although, if we’re going to be honest, this is not my genre and I wouldn’t be able to tell you much about the mechanics anyway.  What I can tell you about is the ambiance, and it is fantastic.  You spend a lot of time skulking around empty-ish buildings alone, sometimes through dark areas infested with rodents, sometimes by dead bodies, or even more unsettling, puddles of blood and bone.  I may have even been startled by my own shadow a time or two.

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Early F.E.A.R. is very cutscene heavy, and my biggest issue with it so far is that it front-loads the credits as part of a long introductory cutscene. In fact, I almost missed out on a lot of the story set-up because I considered skipping the credits. Because, hey, I haven’t played the game yet, I have no idea if it sucks, I don’t really care who made it at this point.

It also didn’t occur to me initially that higher resolutions than 800X600 would be supported – when I first ran it through Steam, it glitched out on me trying to autodetect, so I didn’t mess with the settings.  I cannot recommend enough that you go in and mess with the settings before you start the game.  Running it at the highest resolution that the game is optimized for makes a world of difference.  The following screenshot is the only one I took after turning up the graphics. Of course, it’s also the one that’s dark as all get out, but trust me, it was a massive improvement.

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Although, unsurprisingly, multiplayer for an eleven year old game is no longer supported, the asking price of $10 for the base game and two expansions is more than fair.  You’re looking at a combined play time of probably about 15-20 hours, more if you’re the type that has to look at everything. F.E.A.R. holds up remarkably well for a game of its age, and is definitely going to be the newest entry into my “Would Love to Finish” category in my Steam library.

 

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