MSRP: $9.99 (includes 2 expansion packs)
Platforms: Windows, XBox 360, Playstation 3
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.
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 Or possibly for assuming that an 11 year old game played at an outdated resolution couldn’t possibly be scary.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.
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.
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.
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.