F.e.a.r

There doesn’t appear to have been a whole lot of discussion about this game around here, but I just finished it and I’m kind of curious what everyone else thinks/thought about it.

(mild spoilers follow)

Overall, the reviews I’ve read have been (in my view) overly positive and tend to liberally apply adjectives like “creepy,” “spooky,” and “scary” to F.E.A.R. But I found it to be not that scary at all. Sure, it had its moments, but as Steve Baumann has said, for the most part they’re telegraphed well in advance, which takes away most of their sting. Moreover, Monolith seems to have forgotten their storyline about halfway through the game, and there’s a very long stretch there where the spooks are nary heard from at all. At that point, all you’re left with is a straight-up “Shoot the Goon” FPS, albeit one that rises above its competition due to its really outstanding AI.

One thing I disliked about the shooter aspect was the way the enemies always showed up in predictable trios. Granted, I guess that was realistic if you posit that the enemy soldiers were organized in squads of three, but I wish there were more cases where you encountered two or three squads together or something. The way it is now, you can pretty reliably predict that once you’ve taken out three guys, the way ahead is clear; not always, but as a rule. And the cases where there were a multitude of enemies–the set piece battles in big rooms–were some of those that were loudly announced ahead of time by the music and the magical appearance of lots of weapons, ammo, health kits, and armor lying nearby.

I’ve also read in a couple of reviews about how the levels weren’t as linear as in other games. I beg to differ. The levels were extremely linear. Sure, there were sometimes split paths within a level, allowing you to take either fork in the road to arrive at the same nearby objective (for instance, going through an airduct rather than a hallway), but that’s not quite the same thing, in my mind, as a non-linear level. At the end of the day–Jesus, I hate that cliche; therefore, I must use it–you’re still being funneled down the same tunnels to the same cutscene tripwires. That’s not necessarily a criticism–story-based FPS’s demand this kind of design to a large extent–but it did irk me that I was misled by a few reviewers who were somewhat less than accurate in their description of the game’s level design.

Another thing that annoyed me was the way objects would bounce and rattle around for no particular reason due to some weirdness in the physics engine. It was not uncommon to come across vibrating reams of copy paper on a desk or a dancing gooseneck lamp. Moreover, if I got within two feet of a trashcan or swivel chair it would often clank, roll, and rumble like I had just given it a football kick. I can’t tell you how many times I jumped out of my own seat with fright, not because of the preprogrammed “spooky” moments in the game, but because a goddamned trashcan was sent flying across the room behind me as I passed by.

On the upside, it was a fun game (Tom) and one that, whatever its shortcomings, was worth the price of admission. I don’t actually finish a game all that often anymore, yet I finished this one. Still, I can’t help thinking that if only Irrational had made F.E.A.R., with an eye to the genuine atmospheric spookiness of System Shock 2 as opposed to the telegraphed, manufactured approach Monolith took, it could have been a classic.

My summary of the game:

F.E.A.R. is perhaps the best pure shooter I’ve played. But that’s the problem … it’s “just” a pure, Raven-style shooter with “spooky” elements tacked on.

Yeah, I thought it was weird that you ran into all this spooky stuff only to end up fighting what amounts to a bunch of guys. The atmosphere seemed to belong in a game where you’d be fighting monsters or whatever.

I was scared in to not playing this game. That’s how big of a wuss I am.

I thought it was a let down. I’ve loved pretty much anything Monolith has done but FEAR actually bored me. I played to the middle of the game and grew tired of fighting the same enemies in the same office complex hallways over and over. I knew it wasn’t going to be like that for the rest of the game but I just didn’t feel any drive to finish it.

The game did look gorgeous and ran great on my system. I’m not sure what it was but it lacked something that pretty much every other Monolith shooter had. I haven’t played Condemned either but I’ve heard similar complaints about it as well.

Another thing that annoyed me was the way objects would bounce and rattle around for no particular reason due to some weirdness in the physics engine. It was not uncommon to come across vibrating reams of copy paper on a desk or a dancing gooseneck lamp. Moreover, if I got within two feet of a trashcan or swivel chair it would often clank, roll, and rumble like I had just given it a football kick. I can’t tell you how many times I jumped out of my own seat with fright, not because of the preprogrammed “spooky” moments in the game, but because a goddamned trashcan was sent flying across the room behind me as I passed by.

I always figured that was just intentional, freaky, telekinetic psychic-devil-girl stuff.

I was also disappointed in F.E.A.R. It just lacked suspense; the much-hyped plot was puerile. The graphics and AI were fun, though I don’t seem to remember the guards popping up in trios. Was this a function of difficulty level?

I have really mixed feelings about it. I’ve been giving it a couple hours a week for the last few weeks and I feel like I have to force myself to play. The combat is AWESOME, and the AI seems pretty good. I have fun with the shootouts, but as was mentioned before it feels like the story is just forgotten after a while and the spooky scare tactics seem to be dropped as well. The single player campaign really seems to be a lame excuse to have Hollywood style shootouts; the levels themselves could be randomly generated and be just as fun. I’m in the 7th interval (out of 10) and I can honestly say I’ve really learned nothing about the story that I didn’t know after the opening segment of the game. As good as the combat is, I’m really sick of fighting the same enemies, with the same 3/4 weapons, in the same dark office lobby every 5 minutes. To tell the truth, I’d welcome the annoyingly typical sewer level, or a platform level, hell even an escort mission would be a welcome change of pace.

Sewer level and Escort Mission are both in there before the end of the game!

Loved this game. A lot. By the end I had seen enough generic maintenance hallways to last me a lifetime, but the combat was just so much fun and I thought there were genuinely scary moments.

The end was kind of a letdown. Well, the part right near the end. The very end part was great.

I loved this game. One of the best shooters I’ve played in a long time.

I enjoyed the game, but, yeah, it had super repetitive environments and enemy encounters. Listen for radio crackle, flank, nade, slo-mo, repeat.

I alternated a level in F.E.A.R. with a level in Quake 4 when I played those two titles, and it seemed to make each title better.