F.E.A.R. First Encounter Assault Recon: Or How to Scare the Heebie-jeebies Out of Gamers

FEAR is not only an emotion but a new PC game from Vivendi Universal games and Monolith. In the same “take the pc gaming world by surprise” as Far Cry, Vivendi Universal released the Demo version of FEAR and shocked many with its radical gameplay and really different but amazingly workable story line. FEAR released on October 17, 2005 to enthusiastic gamers who wanted the FEAR scared out of them.

Well, it may not be that scary but there are moments that things do make you jump. Tell me if you wouldn’t jump when your creeping down a hall with low lighting and the shelves in the room ahead jumps out for no reason and blocks a door you were eyeing to go through. It’s scenes like this that add to the general feel and scary nature of FEAR.

First Encounter Assault Recon is the team your working for as you investigate and deal with weird and unnatural encounters like things people can’t explain. Unlike Scully and Mulder of the X-Files you get all kinds of awesome weapons to fight with like the high velocity penetrator (rail gun), particle weapon or repeating cannon.

You also get some great personal protection in the form of body armor and a variety of explosives like hand grenades, proximity mines and sticky grenades. Well they aren’t called sticky grenades but they stick when thrown at objects or people and you detonate them remotely, in other words you can stick them to enemies or walls and wait for the right moment to detonate. It is really fun to watch enemies run around yelling about a grenade when it’s stuck to him.

FEAR is a classic first person shooter with a whole bunch of really unique parts thrown in. If you enjoyed great FPS games like Quake 4 and Far Cry, FEAR is sure to get your adrenaline pumping. The story goes like this; your part of an elite military organization that investigates and “handles” paranormal incidents. You are called to a scene where military commander Paxton Fettel has telepathically taken control of cloned soldiers and is searching for something at various locations. You must hunt down Fettel and stop him as well as find out what he is looking for and along the way you get to battle all his soldiers.

The entire atmosphere and drama of a gun battle is expertly captured from the sights and sounds of fighting to the great special effects of weapons not yet created. You also have the added bonus of your SloMo fighting along with some eerie special effects of the paranormal activities going on.

Because you have excellent reflexes above and beyond most ordinary people you can hit the slow motion feature and fight in a slowed down version of reality. This allows you to shoot quicker and aim better than your opponents for a few seconds and turn the tide of a fight. There is also the use of cover, your explosives and a good variety of weapons along with your wits to survive to the end of FEAR. And that is your real goal, to survive to the end of the game with your wits intact.

This game is not scary by having things jump out at you, but is more the waiting for some strange things to happen and when they do they are not quite what you expected. You get to carry three weapons at a time and start out with your standard pistol and a small automatic sub-machine gun. Along the way you’ll pick up the others like a combat shotgun, assault rifle, burst sniper rifle, rocket launcher and the really cool particle weapon that burns the flesh off opponents.

You will definitely need these strong weapons in FEAR as the AI is just as aggressive and hard to kill, well not that bad as you’ll rack up several hundred kills by the time your done. I found the AI in FEAR not only enjoyable but frustrating as well. The men would use tactics and cover well while using some of the same ploys and things I was trying out on them. Using grenades to get you out from cover and having one or two men advance while others covered them was used often but in the end it was your SLoMo and superior brains that would keep you alive.

Really enough cannot be said about the game engine or the AI controlling your enemies, I have never seen a game where the men would do one thing and then another totally different approach at fighting you with the same character. It seemed like each opponent used a variety of tactics and had each one on hand and useable depending on each situation.

With this in mind the game also has some drawbacks, mainly the awesome system requirements that it takes. On my computer it ran well but a couple of times my video card got bogged down and the video stopped working while several times the game had to be restarted because my computer could not keep up with it. I have never played a game like this before and have bench mark tested my computer with programs while having all kinds of background programs running and it has run well for me. FEAR does some pretty amazing things with the graphics and sound that really puts a system to the test.

The system requirements call for a 1.7 Gigahertz processor, 512 megabyte memory computer with a 64 megabyte video card minimum, and I think this is really understated. The recommended hardware is a 3 ghz processor with 1 meg of memory and a 256 megabyte video card which is about the way it should be. I have just a bit under these recommended requirements and have heard of others with way over it that still had problems running the game some. The game uses a lot of your system processor, memory and video memory so it taxes your whole system.

The graphics are very well made and the whole cinematic feel you get from a really well made movie is in this game. The fear you can actually experience is part of the game and it keeps you on your toes and guessing what they will throw your way next. The sound also plays a big role in the overall feel of the game and came across well in surround sound as well as headphones when I tried them out. You have to catch a lot of the talking that goes on or some of the story will be lost to you so pay attention and play those answering machines and laptops that they tell you to.

One large aspect of this game is not only the single player action of the story line but the equally awesome multiplayer gaming available on the internet. I played several games on the internet and it plays just as well on the internet as the single player without the system problems due to fewer special graphics being used in online play. They don’t include all the special scenes with paranormal activities in online play so your game experience will be better in multiplayer. They do limit you to the weapons you have but it would not be much of a game if everyone had rocket launchers.

One really cool game type to play is the SloMo matches. Your team goes into SloMo when someone picks up the power up for your team and presses the key for that feature while the meter is up. Everyone on your team then goes into SlowMo for the duration of the powerup and you get the bonus of fighting as a team with added reflexes and faster time. It is a really cool feature and unique to see in action.

Other than this you get the usual deathmatch, coop and other multiplayer games like in a lot of other PC games but the graphics, physics and levels are really well done here. The multiplayer is a great feature and you can be sure you’ll be able to find plenty of people playing online. You can also find people busy at home with the mission and level editor creating games, levels and other mods of their own for download on sites.

The game has an editor that you can download from Sierra’s website and comes with all the editors to create not only your own levels but all the cool effects found in the game. There are several cool levels you can download that fans have made and others are on there way. Go to Sierra to find out more about the level editor known as the Sierra FEAR Public Tools or SDK for FEAR:

http://www.sierra.com/en/home/games/game_info.tab-downloaddetail.prod-L2NvbnRlbnQvc2llcnJhL2VuL3Byb2R1Y3RzL2ZfZV9hX3JfX3JlZ3VsYXJfZWRpdGlvbg%3d%3d.platform-pc.download-OtherDownloads-6180.html

You can Google search and find all kinds of downloads like levels around the internet or you can start here: http://www.fearmaps.com/index.php?name=Downloads&file=details&id=5

http://fear.filefront.com/

So in summary FEAR is an excellent, awesome, really good game, and I do not mean in the same caliber as other games. There are only a hand full of PC games in this caliber like Far Cry, Half-Life and Unreal Tournament. FEAR takes a pretty decent computer and some good nerves to play. Okay it may not be that scary but is so worth the cost to play not only the single player campaign but the multiplayer matches.

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