This straightforward translation of last year's hit PC game blends kinetic action with creepy atmosphere to create one of the most intense shooters on the Xbox 360.
- Incredibly kinetic action and visually intense firefights
- creepy psychological horror
- instant-action mode lets you compare your best scores online
- frenetic multiplayer mode.
- Complex control scheme is a bit clumsy on the gamepad
- "bonus" mission isn't much of a bonus.
When you get down to it, the gun is the heart and soul of a first-person shooter. Even the genre's name alludes to this fact. Yet while shooters have been around for more than a decade, very few of them have captured the visceral experience of firing a gun. It's an intense and violent act. Enter the Xbox 360 translation of F.E.A.R., last year's acclaimed PC action game. F.E.A.R. is a shooter that captures the sensation of being in wild and desperate firefights, and it's an incredible experience from start to finish. More notably, however, it's one of the most atmospheric and creepy games ever made.
If you played the PC version, you'll find the Xbox 360 version almost exactly the same in terms of content. If you didn't play the PC game, the challenge in describing F.E.A.R. is trying to avoid any spoilers because this is definitely a game that you want to experience unspoiled. You play as the newest member of the First Encounter Assault Recon, the military's top-secret task force that is assigned to deal with paranormal situations. And the mission in F.E.A.R. certainly counts as above and beyond the regular call of duty. As explained in the opening sequence, a military commander, named Paxton Fettel, goes insane and takes over a secret army of cloned soldiers that are telepathically linked to him. Fettel and the battalion of elite soldiers then go on a rampage in a nondescript American city.
F.E.A.R. works because it elevates first-person-shooter combat to cinematic levels. Playing F.E.A.R. is like battling through a John Woo movie, because when firefights occur in this game, they're downright glorious. Bullets tear chunks out of concrete and wood; blinding clouds of dust and debris fill the air; bodies are torn apart or slump on the ground; and the deathly silence of the aftermath contrasts so sharply with the sheer chaos that erupted only moments before. Gunfights in F.E.A.R. just feel right. This is partly because the weapons you have in the game feel the way weapons should--powerful. You have the standard array of guns to play around with, including a pistol, submachine gun, assault rifle, shotgun, and rocket launcher. There's also a scoped, burst-firing rifle that's a dead ringer for the Master Chief's battle rifle in Halo 2; an incredibly nasty particle weapon that sears the flesh off of opponents; and a few other special toys.
You've also got some special abilities at your disposal. For example, you can kill foes with a swift dropkick or scissors kick, which is such an awesome move that even when you pull it off in desperation (like when you've emptied a clip and don't have time to reload), it still feels incredibly cool. Yet, your most important ability is your ultrafast reflexes, which can be activated in short bursts to create a sort of Matrix-like bullet time. Now, bullet time has been done to death over the past few years, but the execution of bullet time in F.E.A.R. is still well done. When you kick in the reflexes, everything else slows down, and you can see the vortexes in the air created by bullets. You can activate this ability only in short bursts before it runs out. Because it recharges at a decent rate, however, you can generally have it at your disposal in most fights. This slow-motion ability is almost essential for surviving some of the tougher battles; you can use it to whittle down the odds. With that said, we almost wish that it were a bit rarer in the game because F.E.A.R. really comes alive when the firefights are shown in full speed, not slow motion.
Because the controls are a bit clumsy for a game that relies on split-second reactions, all of this complexity comes at a price. Even near the end of the game, we still had problems where we accidentally threw a grenade when we meant to go into bullet time, or we unnecessarily burned through a health pack instead of activating the flashlight. (Unfortunately, F.E.A.R. still relies on the overly hackneyed contrivance of having your elite military trooper equipped with a flashlight that has a 30-second battery life.) Halo 2 veterans will most likely have trouble adapting because the left trigger tosses a grenade in F.E.A.R., whereas most Halo veterans have been conditioned to use the left trigger to fire whatever weapon is being wielded in the left hand.
Without a doubt, you've got an extremely formidable arsenal at your disposal. And you're going to need it against the artificial intelligence in F.E.A.R. Put simply, these are the smartest, most aggressive, most tactically oriented AI opponents that we've ever encountered in a shooter. And they're downright impressive. The AI opponents are incredibly sharp and will do things that you don't expect, like pin you down while one of them flanks you. Or they'll pin you down and plop a grenade next to you. These guys move around from cover to cover; they communicate with one another; they'll react to any sound or sight of you. They've got the same weapons as you, and their guns do the same amount of damage to you as yours do to them. So you've got to use cover and lean around corners as much as possible because it doesn't take much to shred your armor and health to zero. This can create situations in which you're pinned down, firing desperately to keep their heads down while trying to figure a way out of your current situation. The AI can also take advantage of the game's physics system and knock over objects to create cover.
You'll take a lot of damage during the game, but thankfully, you can pick up countless health packs and armor kits. You can also collect up to 10 health kits for later use, which you'll use liberally to keep yourself going in the heat of battle. And while there is a way to permanently boost your maximum health level and stamina, sooner or later, you'll fall to the enemy. The 360 version includes only a checkpoint save system, which means that when you die, you'll fall back to the last checkpoint. Although there's no way to manually save the game at any point, the checkpoints are reasonably spaced. So we didn't run into any issues where we had to play lengthy sections over and over again.
- Player Reviews: 427
- Game Universe:
- F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin (PS3, X360, PC),
- F.E.A.R. (PS3, PC, X360),
- F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate (PC),
- F.E.A.R. 3 (PC, PS3, X360),
- F.E.A.R. 2: Reborn (X360, PS3, PC),
- F.E.A.R. Files (X360),
- F.E.A.R. Platinum Collection (PC),
- F.E.A.R. Gold Edition (PC),
- F.E.A.R. Extraction Point (PC),
- F.E.A.R. Combat (PC)
- Online Modes:
Competitive, Cooperative, Team Oriented
- Number of Players:
- Number of Online Players:
16 Players Online