It Will Mess With Your Head!
Having appeared on the PC last year, F.E.A.R. makes the transition to the Xbox 360, allowing more people to experience what is an eerie and tense game. You are an elite soldier who is a part of an organisation called F.E.A.R (First Encounter Assault Recon).
You are sent in to investigate a guy called Paxton Fettel, who has taken control of a battalion of soldiers who can be controlled by a physic leader. Technology these days huh?
From the outset, the game plays with your mind and does everything to scare you, and it works. The opening cut scene sets you up for what will be a blood filled and confusing journey, as you figure out just what the hell is going on.
In game, lights will flicker off suddenly, invisible forces will throw around objects, images will pop up on your screen and ravaged bodies and blood are a common occurrence. But the scariest method of terror incitement is a little girl who will appear and walk towards you or run across your view, who is able to kill people without so much as batting an eyelid.
FEAR is a straight port from the PC to the 360, save a few new additions. The quick save feature has been dropped for a checkpoint system and some new maps have been added to the multiplayer mode.
The biggest difference between the PC and 360 of version of the game is a new mode for the 360 called Instant Action. This mode has four missions inspired by parts of the campaign mode.
You are given a score upon completing the mission that is based on factors such as your accuracy with weapons, the time taken to complete the mission and the amount of health and armour you use. These scores can be posted on the Xbox Live Leaderboards to see how you compare to other FEAR players. This mode is ideal for a quick dose of blood and lead, without worrying too much about mission objectives.
The control's in FEAR are solid and easy to get used to. Weapons, Grenades, Medpacks and stimulants can all be accessed with a button press. Interacting with the environment and using the Slow Mo feature is made easy thanks to the games simplistic control system.
As you play through the game, a spine chilling musical score will accompany you. The music will change in pace at particularly tense moments and subside when you have a rare quiet moment. The music is particularly bone chilling during the games scripted moments, and more than adds to the game's terrifying set pieces.
This scripted spookiness is scary enough on its own, but the music adds a whole new level of terror. Don't be surprised to find yourself jumping in (or off) your seat as a light flickers suddenly or a mutilated face appears on screen accompanied by a sudden crescendo of music.
Visually, FEAR is fantastic. The character models are detailed, the environments likewise. The lighting effects really add a great sense of tension and atmosphere to the game, making every corridor, room and crevice intimidating and a possible source of danger. You will grow to love your flashlight in this game.
Another contributor to the games high level of tension is the superb enemy A.I. Enemies will call for back up when they come up against you, make cover for themselves by knocking over parts of the environment and they will try their best to outflank you.
One Of The Best Online Experiences
If you go out into the open in full view of a group of enemies, they will all pop up and send a hail of gunfire your way in a synchronized fashion. This means you'll have some very tense battles with the enemies and the fantastic A.I. will have you carefully considering when to move and fire off shots.
Luckily, you are given a wide assortment of powerful weapons to take down the intelligent enemies found in FEAR. The usual assortment of hand guns, shotguns, sub machine guns, grenades, assault rifles and mines are present, each doing varying amounts of damage.
With the more powerful weapons like shotguns, grenades, rifles and mines, it is possible to blow arms, legs and even enemies heads off in a fountain of gore. The physics system also makes for some gruesome deaths as enemies will fall and stumble after being hit with a hail of hot lead.
There's nothing more satisfying in FEAR than going up to an enemy and unloading a shotgun shell at close range and then watching the gore it creates. Along with the immersive single player campaign, FEAR offers a solid multiplayer experience.
16 players can play against each other on 11 maps, more than in the PC version. There are 5 modes for gamers to sink their teeth into: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Elimination and Team Elimination. In an exciting twist, any of these modes can be play in Slow motion.
Once you get into a game, you'll find it handles very well. I experienced no lag whatsoever when playing, the voice chat sound quality is clear and the gameplay is fast and frantic. The maps are a good mix of claustrophobic corridors and rooms and wide open spaces. FEAR online is definitely one of the best online experiences available on the 360.
The game does have it flaws however. The campaign mode suffers from a weak storyline, you never feel as if the story is pivotal to what you are doing. Also, the environments get very repetitive.
Nearly every level seems to be set in a factory or office, and as you go through these levels, you'll find nigh on identical rooms and corridors often.
You should be able to clock the campaign mode in around 10-15 hours, and the games excellent online multiplayer will keep you coming back for more.
Despite a few flaws that bring the game down, these can be mostly overlooked as FEAR creates such a tense and nerve racking experience that just has to be played, in front or behind the sofa. If you have already played the PC version then there isn't any great incentive to buy this game on the 360, but if you haven't, then you really should.
Approach FEAR expecting a deep and well thought out plot and you will be disappointed, as its more a collection of scary and psychologically confusing moments mixed with frantic shooting than a plot driven one.
You might not have nightmares about the game or have trouble sleeping, but there will be moments when you'll jump and think 'Just what the hell is going on here?'