F.E.A.R? Afraid not.

I admit, the AI in FEAR was astoundingly smart. I really DID see them shoot without aiming out of corners, work in squad level, create their own cover and in general, try their very best to hand my behind to me well-roasted. BUT it was only VERY challenging because of the close-quarter combat in such claustrophobic rooms. Far Cry’s AI, considering the larger range they were willing to traverse to track you down was MUCH more impressive.

Hmmm, on the cool side, even on minimal graphics settings, FEAR’s graphics were sweet [but the pixellation at 640×480 spoils the entire experience, so I recommend a safe 800×600 if you rig’s OK for now or even 1024×768 if it can handle it. Why not?] I hate to admit it but I was having loads of fun just testing the graphics settings one by one on the Performance menu, and surprisingly the auto-detect does a wonderful job of predicting exactly what your com can handle.

One other thing I like about FEAR is that all the guns [regardless of where in the game you pick up them up] do considerable damage so it’s really alright to stick with your favourites. And the SloMo does its job convincingly [but how come there are SO many games with SloMo nowadays? [albeit with different reasons…]]

FEAR was scary, initially. But after a while…it’s still scary, but not as scary as it was initially. It’s just more and more of the same thing. Guy vanishing to dust in front of you, guy vanishing to dust from across the room, shadow creeping past here, little girl running towards/away from you. There was some effort put into the storyline [but the way it’s presented via the occasional laptop or recorded voice message is prtty lame, cos it’s very easy to forget and while I was pretty sure I got all the messages, I still didn’t get one of the main premises of the tale. Go figure.

Now come the bad. I dunno if it’s because I haven’t played FPSs for a long time, [I did play Far Cry recently hmmm] but having no room whatsoever for exploration was just damn irritating. I like to play games where I’m told what to do and not how to do it, [which is pretty much how I prefer working and living as well] so this amount of restriction just started to get on my nerves. If I got ‘lost’ it was only because I had to backtrack after activating some switch. The puzzle element was vastly underrepresented [that’s not always bad] but there were also some pretty long distances to cover before coming across a bunch of squads and then radio silence again. One other thing boredering on predictable was the fact that when you start having visions [which is often] or even get cameo glimpses of the creepy little girl or the villain, you pretty much know that no one’s gonna hurt you immediately or for the next two rooms. You know what would’ve been truly scary? If the villain started to randomly blow his top and fly around smacking you for half your life until you scare him off, WHILE you’re being fired at by two squads [at least] in an open area. Or maybe the little girl pops up beside your cover when you’re planning to sneak up on a coupla grunts infront of you. Just thinking about that possibility is creepy. And I only expect this because the game engine clearly showed that it is possible to be creepier [as creepy for the entire game as it was in the beginning].

Overall, FEAR was a realtively short-lived shooter that manages to scare in the first half and shock in the second. The story, if you understand or ar willing to read up on it, is coherent enough to sustain the gameplay. But if you asked me to compare Far Cry and FEAR, I’d say Far Cry was more challenging and more entertaining. [But those Fat Boys were unforgivable for being unforgiving!]


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