F.E.A.R. Single-Player Hands-On

Monolith's creepy first-person shooter will hit the Xbox 360 with all the PC version's content and then some. We get a look at the single-player mode in its current state.

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Console-only gamers who look jealously upon the PC's bountiful first-person fruits will have one less reason to complain this November, when Vivendi Games releases FEAR, Monolith's outstanding supernatural shooter, on the Xbox 360. Considering the game took our own top honors in the FPS category in 2005 (and was a finalist for best PC game), this ought to be enticing news to 360-bound shooter fans. Back at E3, we got a look at the 360 game's exclusive new instant action mode, which lets you square off against a flood of enemies to see how long you can hold out. Now we've had a chance to sit down and try FEAR's story mode, which is what won the game so much acclaim last year.

The main single-player game here is essentially the same as you'll remember on the PC. You're still a member of the First Encounter Assault Recon team, a crack squad of heavily armed paranormal investigators. When things start going wrong, these are the guys that get sent in--and things are going very wrong here, so you'll need to use your arsenal of conventional weaponry and your bullet-time-style slow-motion effect (not to mention your uniquely impressive first-person jump-kicking ability) to make it through the legions of heavily armored clone soldiers, all of whom are telepathically controlled by an insane military commander. And that's to say nothing of that creepy little girl who keeps showing up all over the place. The whole point of FEAR is to make you feel like you're in the middle of a highly stylized action movie--a goal the PC version accomplished admirably--and it looks like the 360 version will be just as effective.

In case you've been worrying that the Xbox 360 wouldn't be able to handle FEAR's demanding visuals...don't. We got to try the game in a nearly final state running in 720p, and it looked every bit as good as the PC version and ran at quite a smooth frame rate. In fact, it technically looked better--it seems the developers discovered they had a little extra performance to work with, so they've added high-dynamic range lighting, more-complicated particle systems, and higher-resolution textures to improve the look of the game in subtle but still effective ways. And you'll be able to get a brighter look at all those pretty environments on the Xbox 360, as the developers have made a small design tweak to your character's flashlight by giving it some extra battery life, so you'll be able to keep your surroundings illuminated for a bit longer before having to recharge.

Look for a new weapon and a bonus mission to round out FEAR's existing single-player content on the 360.
Look for a new weapon and a bonus mission to round out FEAR's existing single-player content on the 360.

Aside from these technical improvements, FEAR's story mode on the 360 will be pretty much what you remember from the PC. We learned that the developers are adding one new weapon to the fray, but they weren't ready to reveal exactly what that weapon will be. Furthermore, a new bonus mission is being designed for the 360 release, though from the sound of it, this level won't be integrated into the existing storyline (rather, you'll likely access it from the main menu). The game plays as well as you'd expect with the lovely 360 controller, as all the game functions--flashlight, slow motion, movement controls, and so on--are aptly mapped to the various buttons and D pad. Anyone who's used to shooters on consoles ought to feel right at home.

If you've been waiting all this time to play FEAR on your Xbox, you'll get at least a small taste of the game soon enough, since Vivendi plans to release a demo on Xbox Live sometime in October. The game seemed just about complete--at least in terms of graphics and controls and such--when we got to play it recently, so the team should have no problem adding the new content and polishing up the last remaining bugs in time for FEAR's release in November. Until then, check out some new HD gameplay movies and screenshots of the Xbox 360 version in action.

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