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F.E.A.R.

Developer: Monolith | Publisher: VU Games
Players: 1+ Player Game | Genre: First Person Shooter

Release Date: 10/17/05

Coming this October, F.E.A.R. will be unleashed all across America. Most likely you've heard of this award-winning game already, taking home best action game of E3 just this past May. That's not an easy task, but Monolith and Sierra have worked hard to ensure that this game is every bit deserving of such hype. With an action/horror plot full of heavy firepower, disturbing imagery, and thrilling scares, F.E.A.R. promises to deliver the fps genre to consumers (of mature age) in a unique and very immersive experience.

So what is F.E.A.R. about exactly? To put it succinctly, the game is about investigating and containing paranormal activity in an overtaken aerospace compound. This compound was housing some sort of secret operation and contained an army of clone soldiers, when unpredicted and strange behavior started occurring. The original task force sent in to investigate was immediately destroyed, and many of the horrific deaths were captured on video. These images were the first sign that a paranormal force was at play. That is when your emergency team is assembled to immediately contain the force so it does not spread out of control, or worse.

It seems the clones are under the command of military general Paxton Fettle, who has become mentally unstable to say the least, as chaos has erupted in the compound. Fettle appears to have some supernatural powers, which may be linked to the game's infamous little girl. This mysterious, long-haired, spooky little girl seems to be directly linked to all the paranormal activity and horrific imagery in the game. She is definitely a main character (just look at the advertisements) but what exactly she represents we won't know until the game is released. And as if the connection between these two hasn't gotten you confused enough, your character seems to complete some weird triad between these two. F.E.A.R. promises to unfold in a way that allows you to question the identity of yourself and the other main characters for a thrilling and unforgettable story.

What is better than a thrilling and unforgettable story? Playing through it of course! The gameplay has already started to prove itself in the downloadable one-player demo. As a first-person shooter, F.E.A.R. actually brings a lot of new content to the table. The enemy A.I. is a huge focus for the development team, and they have incorporated unparalleled squad tactics into the game. The enemies will use objects and paths for cover and flanking strategies to pin you down. They adapt to your playing environment and will even target nearby "hazards" to damage you, like fire extinguishers or explosive objects. Different types of enemies besides the clone soldiers have been kept mostly under wraps, yet we do know there are clone soldiers with different abilities and attack methods as well.

The arsenal of weapons at your disposal throughout the game leaves little to be desired. Everything is present and accounted for, from the pistols to the automatics to the grenade launcher. F.E.A.R. has some of the most impressive weapon designs and functionality I've seen in a fps in a long time. Some of my favorites are the particle gun, the dual pistols, and the remote grenades. I highly suggest the weapon demo at the game's official website where you can select a weapon and watch a short clip of it in action. (http://whatisfear.com/us) Your character may hold three weapons at any given time, but has a few melee attacks to help fight off enemies, including an axe kick and leg sweep. Besides the firepower, each weapon will also include a melee attack with the butt of the gun. Jumping, ducking, and corner-peaking are available game play elements to help you navigate the environment. Another important piece of game play is the time manipulation. By entering slow motion, you are given a temporary advantage over your enemies. It doesn't last long, so you must choose carefully when you need it most. Not only is this a great feature for strategy, it is a visual treat as well. The last element of game play to discuss is the boosters. Not much is known about the boosters, but they are known to be upgrades for your different stats. One in particular raises your maximum health, and I'm sure another will boost maximum time in slow motion. These are just a couple examples. Monolith hasn't revealed much about these booster items.

F.E.A.R. may seem to be all about the single player experience since it has such an involved story, but Monolith has been working on the multiplayer aspect for quite some time. Up to 16 players, the multiplayer will feature deathmatch game types as well as capture the flag according to the official site. Admittedly, they wanted the first installment in the F.E.A.R. franchise to be distinct. The development team didn't want to overdo the game's multiplayer features and add in a string of gametypes no one would end up wanting to play. A wise decision, the multiplayer will incorporate all the fighting elements of single player including time manipulation.

Having gone gold September 15, the official release date is October 18 2005 for F.E.A.R. By pre-ordering your copy with EB, you can save 5 dollars off the price of the game. If you're a fan of American action films, Japanese horror films, or first-person shooters, don't kid yourself: you need this game.

By Keith Schaefer - 09/20/05
ESRB Details: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language
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Screenshots for F.E.A.R.

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