F.E.A.R (First Encounter Assault Recon)


Computer Platform: PC (Windows)
Produced by: Entertainment
Price Range: $21-30
Learning curve time: 1-30 min.
Age level: Mature Teen to Adult
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
Patches / Upgrades: Online / Xbox Live

Reviewed By: Colonel Link

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆
Genre: First Person Shooter / Thriller
Rating: 2 of 5 (poor)
Gameplay: 5 of 5 (excellent)
Violence: 1 of 5 (extreme)
Adult Content: 2 of 5 (heavy)

F.E.A.R (First Encounter Assault Recon).  Illustration copyrighted.

F.E.A.R. First Encounter Assault Recon is a developed by Monolith Productions and published by Vivendi. It was released on October 17, 2005, for Windows, and ported by Day 1 Studios to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The game also contains psychological horror elements.

This review is based on the PC “Director’s Edition” of the game, which as far as I know, only adds a few extra content videos.

Plot: You play as the newest member of the First Encounter Assault Recon, the military’s top-secret task force assigned to deal with paranormal situations. And the mission in F.E.A.R. certainly counts as above and beyond the regular call of duty. As explained in the opening cinematic, a military commander named Paxton Fettel goes insane and takes command of a secret army of cloned soldiers that are telepathically linked to him. Fettel and the battalion of elite soldiers then go on the rampage in a nondescript American city. They appear to be searching for something, though their objective is a mystery. It’s up to you and the rest of the F.E.A.R. team, along with units of Delta Force, to find out what it is they’re looking for and stop them.

F.E.A.R (First Encounter Assault Recon).  Illustration copyrighted.

The story is truly one of the best aspects of the game. You always know what your objective is and how it ties into the main story. The story unfolds using radio transmissions, laptop information that you recover, voice mail messages, etc. It works quite well, making you feel as if you’re really taking part in this creepy adventure. I can’t really expand on the “creepy” aspect of the game without giving away a lot, but suffice to say that it is one of the most chilling games you will ever play. It’s not in-your-face monsters popping out, but creepy music, random patches of radio static, sudden flashes of light, and even a few “visions” that will creep you out if you let them.

Gameplay: By far the best aspect of F.E.A.R. Much of the game is spent in gun battles against replica soldiers, but these aren’t your typical FPS shoot-outs. These are John Woo-ish “shoot at the enemy and tear chunk out of the wall and floor while you’re at it”, leaving once clean and smooth rooms full of big holes, and dust hovering in the air (which actually makes the battles more challenging, as you sometimes can’t see). The gun battles can only be described as “movie like”. You’ll be ducking behind cover as you tear pieces of the wall out with your high powered guns and try to take down the incredibly smart enemies. I simply can’t describe the feel of the battles with words, you can only experience them. Suffice to say that by the end of one, your heart will be pounding, you’ll be breathing hard, feeling amazingly cool, and maybe even sweating.

F.E.A.R (First Encounter Assault Recon).  Illustration copyrighted.

Now, about the “incredibly smart enemies”. To put it simply, this is the smartest AI I have ever seen in a game. Teams will try to flank you, duck behind cover, provide covering fire, and even call for backup. One might consider this a glitch in the AI, but I find it quite funny: After eliminating most of a replica team, with only one left, the solitary soldier will shout: “What’s your status?!”. I answered the question for him: “Dead”.

Graphics: The best of any game up to 2006. The game simply looks amazing. The environments are lighted extremely well, which really adds to the creepy mood. Characters look great, and shadows look…..perfect.

The only disadvantage of this is that the game is a real system hog. My Satellite A135 with 1GB RAM, 244mb integrated graphics, and 1.73 Duo Core processor can run the game with almost everything at minimum and medium, with the framerate rarely dropping below 15 FPS. However, if you really want to experience the game, you need a great PC.

Sound: Equally stunning. The music works perfectly and always fits the mood, the voices are great, and the sound effects (especially from the guns) are so realistic I sometimes flinch when I hear a gunshot.

Violence: *Note: There is an option to turn off the Gore in the options menu, but I will be reviewing the game when it is set to on*.
The violence is really quite extreme. You can sometimes blow off an enemies head, all of the uperbody, arm or leg with a well placed shot from one of your high powered weapons (namely the shotgun). One of your guns has the ability to “vaporize” an enemy, leaving only a pile of burned bones. And another weapon, the “penetrator”, serves as a spike or spear gun, allowing you to pin an enemy to the wall.
All of these deaths include a lot of blood (except for the vaporization one), although it’s very unrealistic and slightly comical in nature (I once jammed half of someone’s body into a wall). Also, in one of the opening videos, you can sort of see a man eating a dead body.

F.E.A.R (First Encounter Assault Recon).  Illustration copyrighted.

Language: Easily the worst aspect of the game. Enemies will shout “F***!” or “S***!” if you throw a grenade at them. “Jesus Christ” is sometimes said in radio or telephone messages. The F-Word is used by your superiors, and is probably the word that you’ll hear the most in the game. While there is no option to turn of the language, you can turn of the voices. This will greatly detract from the experience, meaning you won’t get a lot of the story, and you won’t be able to hear what enemies are planning. But it works quite well if you’re just in it for the fighting.

Sexual Content: None in the amount that I played.

Spiritual Content: F.E.A.R was specially created to deal with the paranormal, and so, there is definitely gonna be a lot of spiritual stuff. Paxton Fettel controls his army using “telepathic” abilities. I never found out whether this was spiritual or scientific. The horror in the game is “psychological”, so the mood of the game is very dark and creepy. One of the “cutscenes” involves you walking down a hall with blood flowing on the top of the ceiling (defying gravity) as you hear a baby crying and people muttering.
While nothing is outright “anti-christian”, some may be offended by the dark tone and creepy visions.

Overall: F.E.A.R is definitely one of my top 3 favorite shooters ever. If you can stand the language (or turn it off) and the violence, and you love FPS/Creepy games, you’ll absolutely love F.E.A.R.

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Year of Release — 2005

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Answers Network.

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