For some unfathomable reason I received, quite out of the blue, encouragement to review the latest FPS craze F.E.A.R.
I mean, why me?
Well, whomever they were must not know me that wellâ€¦or they doâ€¦partially. Wait thatâ€¦right.
Summary: Blah, blah, blah, new recruit, blah, blah, blah typical operations, blah, blah, blah something goes wrong, blah, blah, special abilities, blah.
You've read this all before!
You've HEARD this all before!!
You've PLAYED IT ALL BEFORE!!!
Of course you're the central figure in this drama that is about to ensue. It'd be a pretty boring game if the hero was an AI driven NPC and all you did was sit around and serve waffles. (But if you fail to get the waffles a perfect golden brown the hero will fall and ALL will be consumed in darkness!!)
F.E.A.R. was a touch different; you the character didn't talk to anyone and so it was never boldly announced that you're 'special' up until the very, very last second. Sure you know it but the game itself doesn't acknowledge it really. No one ever goes: Whoa, you're like, the hero dude and we'd be totally screwed without you.
Throughout a lot the idea seems to be: With or without you, this story is going to grind on.
I liked that. True it's a subtle thing but not one I'd run across in games often. Of course this is not the main selling point in F.E.A.R.
No, that would be theâ€¦.
Sorry I couldn't resist.
This game is creepy. True, this game was a bit of a one-trick pony when it came to inspiring nerves. It was pretty much always 'Did somethingâ€¦Holy SHIT!!' and then something lurches out of you to result is a variety of little shivers. These would range from a shadow that flickers or arcing electricity to OH MY CHRIST I'M HIP DEEP IN BLOOD!!
Beyond this all though were a couple of really concrete twists; first off the repeating image of a child as a basis for terror. We can thank 'Ringu' and 'The Grudge' for this. It's an effective tool though. Children represent hope, future, resilience and sacrifice (Ie. We die for them) At least until recently. George A. Romero's 'Dawn of the Dead' used a pregnant woman and her child being born to symbolize hope and the continuation of mankind. In the 2004 remake Hollywood decided, 'Fuck that; here America, meet the Abortion that Talks Back'.
It was all downhill from there.
Another reoccurring theme stemming from children is the mystery. In other words how is it they tick? I mean, there are child psychologists, people who spend decades in schools learning to think like children do; at the same time how often do parents say: Just What Were You Thinking?!
And these are all people who were themselves children!
So you've got the child who is the agent of blood soaking the ceiling, reality itself screaming in agony, trained killing machines pissing their pants evil and the mystery of the child compounded by children being, just by existing, objects of the unknown themselves.
This can equate to a serious mindjob.
The second image are the nastier trips you take when the girl shows up into vision world. A long hallway, darkness, blood, fire and a door. Behind that door you can see shapes, an angry, shouting voice, screams of agonyâ€¦all these add up to a mockery of something akin to birth. And yet this too is being twisted somehow. It's right about here that things go really fuck-all and the mindjob hits fifth gear.
So. Two powerful images of 'Good', child and birth, being the prime catalysts for evil and pain. It gets quickly to the point where, upon entering a room full of cloned, razor fast, lethal super soldiers, one feels a sense of positive relief.
Of course, as I said, it IS a bit of a one trick pony and toward the end it gets kinda tiresome. But, hey, Super Soldiers!
Which brings us to the other part of the game.
If you don't have at LEAST a Raedon 9800 with 1GB of DDRAM you're screwed. The guns have kick here baby. The walls, dustâ€¦ Okay.
Go back to 'The Matrix'. No, the first movie, the one that was actually good.
Right, picture, if you will, Neo and Trinity walking into the lobby and engaging in that gun battle. It's kinda like that. Hell, there's even the bulletime. That's all I'll say about the graphics. Other reviewers can do it better.
In other news the bad guys got brains. This AI is not stupid and I mean REALLY not stupid. There are three soldiers in a room, you come around the corner guns blazing, one goes down. The other two will not seek cover and engage in a protracted firefight. One will dive through the nearby window, the other will back out the door firing. You tear after the one that went through the door; he leans around a corner only to catch a face full of NATO 5.556 lead. You creep forward, ready for anythingâ€¦except the other guy who circled back to the front door you originally came through, crossed the room where you gunned down the first soldier, went through the door you did to follow the second and is now standing right behind you with a shot gun at the back of your skull.
This happened more times than I can recall. It got to the point where I could hear my computer sniggering at the tactless, hapless, gun crazy human.
Do I have a beef with F.E.A.R.?
A major one.
Oh my Christ on Acid Turning Turtle wax into Cream Cheeseâ€¦.
There was so much potential here.
Without giving too much away, or rather anything, the story was introduced incredibly fragmentally. Tiny pieces that seem to not make any sense at all falling into place with a quiet 'Click'. Interaction, bare bones at first then growing as the game continues, with people you first want to save, then puzzle over, then murderously want to kill. There is horror, desire for revenge, pity for the killers, loathing for the creators of the killers and the creators themselves.
But at no point do they let you actually KILL any of these motherfuckers!!
Oh NOâ€¦you just get everything happening AROUND you or TO you but the people who deserve to be kneecapped with a ball peen hammer die through the hands of another, or their own damn selves. There's no visceral satisfaction to be found ANYWHERE!! No one, not one damn monstrous creation of these writers, flowing in blasphemous parody of Athena from Zeus' brown gets their richly deserved reward at your hands.
It's so FRUSTRATING!!
And don't get me started on Alma.
Fun little note: In the language of my current homeland Alma means 'Apple'.
In this case, the apple is rotten to the core.
In this case, the apple makes Snow White's little snack seems like the perfect playground lunch-able.
In this case, the apple would have eaten George Washington.
In THIS case the Apple would have scared the shit out of Adam, Eve, that fucking snake and even God!
Let's wrap this up.
F.E.A.R. is a definite chiller. Well, it freaked me out a little and I'm the man who saw the movie 'Aliens', in the theater, when I was eight, and I was laughing my ass off the entire time. People were coming up to my parents, total strangers mind you, and whispering urgently in their ears. I can remember my father's pained smile to this day.
It's not a flawless game. Not in terms of graphics, enemies, or plot. It had a lot more potential but I think the graphics ate up a LOT of the time. I'm not sure about the multiplayer though I have heard good things about it. I'll have to check that out but multiwise I'm booked completely. I just don't have that much time in the first place and I like to focus on one area at a time.
Is F.E.A.R. worth buying?
Should F.E.A.R. have a sequel with the time and quality spent on the graphics now shifted over to actual story?
Is F.E.A.R. better than say-
Stop right there.
That's one last thing to make note of: F.E.A.R. is a bit of a first. This game was made to scare the player. From an FPS, where typically the hero is a bad ass, no shit taking, trigger happy, bad-mama-jama and they want to freak you the hell out.
So, my only real advice is this: Don't try and directly compare F.E.A.R.
Oh and play in the dark.
I remain, as always,