reviewed on PC
Right up there
The graphics engine of F.E.A.R. is truly incredible and it ranks right up there with genre heavy-weights Doom 3 and Half Life 2. The use and rendering of real time shadows adds to the level of realism and greatly enhances the experience. The rag doll effects are not only realistic, but it add a great deal of flair and dark humor to the game. If you are fortunate enough to own a machine that can run this title at its full potential, more power to you and enjoy, because it will be a sight to behold with its incredible lighting and real-time shadowing. For those who own modest machines, never fear, the video, audio and computer customization settings menus are extremely versatile. If you are concerned with the system requirements, I encourage you to check the system requirements.
The interface designed for F.E.A.R. is sleek and easy to maneuver. There is enough information available during game play to keep you informed of your status, but not so much that it clutters the screen. The basic components of a FPS interface are its HUD, movement keys and weapons keys. If you are fumbling around trying to strafe left and switch weapons, you end up dead pretty fast. F.E.A.R. follows the traditional FPS defaults for movements and weapons.
If the graphics won't scare you, the sound will
One thing that is near and dear to my gaming heart is sound. The game can be top of the line visually, but if corners have been cut with sound and music, it ruin the entire experience. F.E.A.R. does not have this problem. The music and sounds have been beautifully rendered and choreographed with the events onscreen. It is a perfect example of how music can change a game into an interactive cinematic experience. The musical score blends in so well with what is happening on the screen, it almost blends in visually with what you are seeing. The drama is more dramatic and the firefights become epic. Ambient sounds, such as footsteps, cans skittering across the floor as you kick them and lights flickering on and off, all work together to bring the F.E.A.R. effect together.
The voiceover acting is very well done and adds real human emotion to what is going on around you. From the AI squad troops to your F.E.A.R. Tactical Officer talking in your ear via COM link; it adds a real sense of human presence in the game. To get the most out of the soundtrack of F.E.A.R. a 5.1 or 7.1 sounds system will blow you away, especially if you are in the position to turn up the volume and the bass a little bit. However, if such a sound setup is not an option, I would actually recommend a good set of headphones over conventional desktop speakers. Wearing a headset while playing this title with the lights out may cause a temporary loss of bladder control, but it will bring the creepy ambiance of the game up to a whole new level. From the first can you kick down an empty hall to the first disembodied whisper you hear in your ear, you will be hooked.
Short but sweet
Enough about the good points, let's beat on the bad points for a bit. As noted earlier, it is a very intense game for your computer. Sadly, I feel that this is just the continuation of a growing trend of increasing system, requirements since software technology for gaming applications has exploded. Total gameplay hours are around the 15 hour mark. Personally I find that short for such a high production-value title. Even with modest playtime, maybe 2-3 hours a day, I was still able to finish it in about a weeks time.
My second point really is not a bad characteristic of the title, however, it may not appeal to all gamers therefore warrants it being noted. F.E.A.R. is a high stress and very tense game at higher settings. Even on easy, some of the scripted events will make you jump. It takes a lot to scare me and there were definitely a few events that provoked a reaction from me, ranging from a burst of uncontrolled gun fire to swearing at my monitor. There are tell tale signs of when something might be amiss, but that can make the situation more apprehensive then if it where to just jump out and get it over with.
Recommendation? Get it!
Though F.E.A.R. is clean of any sex or nudity, it has an extreme gore and offensive language rating. If you can not handle massive, realistic scenes of blood, gore and dismemberment, please think twice about this title because blood and gore are everywhere. Language is also a huge factor. Every encounter with AI troops will be laced with profanity, usually as a reaction to getting shot by you or having a grenade land in front of them. Every AI personality uses his or her fair share of colorful adjectives. Even your Tactical Officer loses his professional composure on occasion.
In closing, if you enjoy the FPS genre, especially the supernatural ones, this title is definitely worth looking into. Even the casual shooter can enjoy this title since it is plot driven unlike many of the other multiplayer shooters which have very little single player value. Overall, F.E.A.R. has proven that it's one of the best FPS titles this year. Cutting edge graphics, sound and rag doll affects - paired with a chilling ambiance and storyline - are sure keep any fan of the genre glued to their monitors. There are only so many words that can describe the game, it's just something you have to see, hear and feel for yourself.
No Pros and Cons at this time