Sunday, May 1, 2022

F.E.A.R (PC) Review

I first read about F.E.A.R when one of the computer gaming magazines I subscribed to had a demo for this game on the disk. Back in 2005, I did not have a computer good enough to run this game at settings that did justice to it. I believe I had a GeForce 5500FX, one of the worst GPUs to have ever been released, and it struggled to run this game at 1280x1024. I decided I wait for my next computer upgrade to play the demo.

After that, the game fell off the radar...until I decided to revisit the game 11 years later.

There were some technical difficulties with running the game in Windows 7, but some simple search yielded the fixes I needed. After I got everything setup, it was time to finally play F.E.A.R.

You play as Point Man, a silent hero who is a part of F.E.A.R (First Encounter Assault Recon) team. When Paxton Fettel, a psychic cannibal, takes control of super soldiers at Armacham Technology Corporation, it is your job to stop him. The story sounds goofy, but thankfully, its the least important part of F.E.A.R.

No one would ever play F.E.A.R for the story. Gameplay is the star of the show here. More than anything, its fun. So often, video games try to do too much, and not focus on the most important thing they are supposed be - a fun and immersive experience. The visuals in this game are excellent. They still hold up to this day. I would argue that they are better than any Call of Duty game to date. I remember seeing screenshots of this game back in the day, and I couldn't believe games could look this good.

Gun fights especially in slow motion look amazing. Its a real treat to get into a gunfight in a dimly lit room, you see sparks flying everywhere, and as the dust settles at the end of the action, the walls are covered with bullet holes and blood. Its unlikely anything I've seen before at the time. I would argue that this game is on par with Max Payne with regards to how well bullet time is implemented.

The gameplay is not anything revolutionary, even for its time. Bullet time mechanics and in game physics have been around for a few years now, but what no other game at its time has done (or since, I would argue) is combat and atmosphere. Its simply excellent. There are times when I had to stop playing after around 10 minutes or so because the combination of music, level design and visuals was a little bit much for me. The game does not rely too much on jump scares, but it excels at making the player uncomfortable.

The PC version, especially when running in on Windows 7 and Windows 10 has some issues but fixes for these are readily available. The game does not support widescreen on default, but with a simple tweak to the configuration file, it is possible to get the game up and running on a 16:9 resolution. I played the game on 2560x1440 resolution without any issues.

F.E.A.R is not without drawbacks, but those don't matter. Considering the game and the expansions can purchased for less than $10 on (which I recommend over Steam), there is no reason to not try it. F.E.A.R is simply one of the best PC games ever. It is right up there with Deus Ex, Max Payne, Crysis etc.

Verdict - Must Play.

+ Graphics
+ Gameplay
+ Enemy AI
+ Sound
+ Quick save and manual save

- Level design
- Story

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