What is it that makes little girls with long black hair so scary? The Ringâ€™s antagonist was one of the freakiest celluloid creations Iâ€™ve ever seen â€“ and just when I was getting over the constant nightmares, along comes F.E.A.R, a new first person shooter featuring â€“ you guessed it â€“ a scary little girl with long black hair.
After playing the demo, I came to two conclusions. The first was that the game does indeed deliver on the scariness front, providing a lot of tension and â€˜jumping out of your seatâ€™ moments. The second was that it has a terrible title. I mean, really, First Encounter Assault and Recon? If thereâ€™s one thing I hate, itâ€™s a perfectly decent word being turned into a terrible acronym.
Cheesy title aside, F.E.A.R. is shaping up to be a very polished first person shooter. Graphically, it is up there with the likes of Half Life 2 and Doom 3, perhaps even surpassing these two heavyweights in some areas. Eerie shadows, highly detailed characters, and satisfying explosions combine to provide a constant stream of eye candy â€“ just donâ€™t expect it to run too well on lower end machines.
F.E.A.R. has a few twists that will (hopefully) help it stand out from the increasingly crowded genre of first person shooters. The most obvious feature is a Max Payne/Matrix-style â€˜bullet timeâ€™ ability. Hit the right button, and time will slow down, allowing you to aim with greater precision and admire all the pretty particle effects as bullets and debris glide slowly through the air. This ability is quite welcome, as firefights in F.E.A.R. seem to be faster and less forgiving than in other action games â€“ when your slow-mo meter runs out, be prepared to move fast. To add to the chaos, weapons tend to leave quite a lot of smoke and rubble in their wake, so after a few seconds of combat your vision can get quite impaired. I actually quite liked this â€“ it added another strategical layer to the battles that helps to further differentiate the game from every other shooter.
As mentioned earlier, F.E.A.R. looks like itâ€™ll get pretty scary. It simply oozes tension and a feeling that anything might pop up around the next corner â€“ which is often the case. There are many Doom 3-like moments where enemies will jump out at you from the shadows, as well as a few (obligatory?) moments of hallucination, often involving the aforementioned girl with long black hair. Hereâ€™s hoping F.E.A.R. can keep up this level of trepidation throughout the whole game.
From what weâ€™ve seen, F.E.A.R. is shaping up to be quite an impressive action shooter. Combine cutting-edge graphics, frantic gameplay, and atmospheric story, and you certainly do get fear (the noun, not the acronym).
The Good: Great graphics; spooky atmosphere; intense action.
The Bad: Can the game maintain its intensity until the end?
The Ugly: Looks like it'll require a high-end PC to run well.