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F.E.A.R. is a fun game

Jake Thoughts06 Feb 2022 19:11:40 -0500 * Edit 26 Feb 2022, Calrification on desktop OS

In this blog post I will be talking about F.E.A.R. and it's sequels. A diligent observer will notice that I have listed F.E.A.R. as 'S Rank' in my 'game reviews' webpage (this will be the first one since putting up that webpage, almost a year ago) and have ranked all of its sequels as well but not as 'S Rank'. I played the DLCs again for the sole purpose of this review and realized that Extraction Point is a solid 'B Rank' and Persues Mandate is a solid 'A Rank'. F.E.A.R. 2 goes straight to 'D Rank' and F.E.A.R. 3 ends up at 'F Rank'.

If you never have played any of the sequels but you are a fan of shooters I recommend you to stop reading, lest you get spoiled, and actually play it. 'High Difficulty' for F.E.A.R., 'Normal Difficulty' for Extraction Point, and flucate between 'Hard Difficulty' and 'Easy Difficulty' for Perseus Mandate depending on the hostile(s). The reason I recommend this is based on how much fun I had playing each of the titles.

For F.E.A.R. 2 and F.E.A.R. 3 you can choose what you want, it doesn't matter. Both do not come even close to the candle that F.E.A.R. holds as they are F.E.A.R. only by name. Though I have beaten F.E.A.R. 2 on normal and 3 on hard difficulty I do not recommend it. For F.E.A.R. 3, playing as the... err... 'bad guy' makes the game much easier than playing as the 'good guy' character, due to the way they handle combat. I am unable to play F.E.A.R. 3 anymore on Linux due to DRM. Anything I say about F.E.A.R. 3 will be based on memory. Truthfully, any complaints about F.E.A.R. 2 will apply to F.E.A.R. 3, this I have no doubt about.

Playing F.E.A.R. and the expansions with Steam's Proton works fine; however, with Extraction Point and Perseus Mandate you must manually edit a config file to get the screen resolution you want. For convenience, these commands will help you find the correct file: find ./ | grep settings.cfg. Those commands assume that your current working directory is somewhere above where you installed F.E.A.R.. Additionally, the game should be crisp - as in the microsecond you start or stop moving the mouse the game responds accordingly. If you notice a 'floaty' experience, maybe adjust FSAA and texture filtering.

Among the gamer community I notice that people view F.E.A.R. as a scary game, I mean the box art is spooky... The name of the game leaves a lot to the imagination: Why did they name the game F.E.A.R.? Is that the emotion I will experience the most when playing this game?

Some people are scared of scary things. They avoid being scared, which is understandable. However, in F.E.A.R., Alma is not a scary thing. Neither is Fettel, neither is any of your buddies-now-ghost. There are jump-scares but they are hardly worth freaking out about, they are just unexpected. What is scary is a soldier accidentally jump scaring you; that is the most scariest part of the whole game because they can actually do damage to the player. But one do not play F.E.A.R. to be scared, one plays F.E.A.R. to kill the enemy in a manner which not only makes one feel like a God among men, but also because of the beauty in it. At least with the first F.E.A.R., anyhow.

I looked at the price of F.E.A.R. on Steam and learned something incredibly sad. Warner Bros have locked the game behind a bundle and you cannot buy the game independently. You must shell out $55 and get the bundle to play this game on steam. On GOG, 'F.E.A.R. Platinum' is $10 which contains F.E.A.R. and its expansions. Warning to non-Europeans: GOG is European you may have to spend extra money because of this. Reviews and complaints on the F.E.A.R. forum(?) page on GOG suggest that DRM gets installed... No winning for people who want to own the game legitimately, eh?

Actually playing F.E.A.R. (spoilers beyond this point)

After fighting, when one inspects the battleground there are combat signs everywhere, the walls plastered in bullet decal effects, enemy bodies bloodied and dead, objects and items strewn about... etc. My wish is that these things stayed long after the combat has ended.

It is easy to get turned around in F.E.A.R. and when you walk down a pristine hallway... This looks familiar... Have I fought here? Had there been obvious combat signs I would know immediately I am going backwards. Thankfully, in F.E.A.R. it is usually clear where to go. Sometimes it is not and you spend like 10 minutes looking for where to go only to find you need to climb a ladder. A lot of care has went into the level design not only for driving the player forward (usually) but also for the AI to take advantage of.

The AI in F.E.A.R. is truly one-of-a-kind, in a good way. Fighting them ACTUALLY feels good... Of course, just reading what I have to say about the AI will do it no justice! You have to experience it to enjoy it! When playing a different game you feel like you are fighting the computer. They make semi-predictable moves and do things that are just... Well, in multiplayer no one would do those things. However, in F.E.A.R. it feels different. Players might do these things! A player definitely would flank you, as the AI in this game is fond of doing! The enemy combatant provides 'cover' fire for their buddies and it doesn't matter if its effective or not because it IS happening. The player FEELS suppressed because he IS suppressed and not because some lanky function that detects the amount of bullets coming near the player and applies a 'suppressed' effect. Of course, if you are new to video games, enemies shooting at you mean nothing; you are not the one who dies after all. But if you treat the game like it's REAL LIFE (lol)...

I yell something about covering fire. My squad runs forward to flank -- wait a minute! WTF is that hostile doing? He ran right into my bullets! He's in the OPEN! "Waste this DUMBASS!" I telepathically communicate to my brothers. The entire squad lights up the hostile with bullets and -- wow! He can apply medkits really fast! He goes down quickly. He must have been low on medkits because... Well, no one sane does what he did! We crowd his body and yup, that is the guy that somehow killed over 500 of us. 'How did he kill so many of us with such poor tactics?' I think to myself. Or I would, if I wasn't a replica soldier whose only line of thought is completing the objective.

F.E.A.R. is such a fun game and it frustrates me that other shooters are not as good as this one is. It was released in 2005 and somehow I find this game to be way more enjoyable than others. However, that is not to say that F.E.A.R. is a perfect game; there are some enemies that are obnoxious.

I will list the most annoying enemies from high to low annoyance: 1. The 'Y's, 2. The Mech, 3. The Ninjas, 4. The Turrets. The 'Y' enemy is the most annoying because it can fly and it will cause you to waste several medkits, per group (2 in a group). I found that 3 shots from the Particle Weapon will kill them in hard difficulty. You can aim at their 'limbs' as well. The mech enemy is also annoying; even though the player fights around four of them, they still do much damage to the player. I found that five sticky grenades will kill them instantly or be very close to killing them. I used a rocket launcher at them but that does not seem to do much damage, as a rocket will miss the mech unless the range is <10 yards (the mech can and often runs 'left' or 'right' and the rockets don't fly fast enough). The ninjas appear only twice through out the first game but they annoy me greatly. 4. Turrets. There is a way to cheese them and kill them without taking damage but it takes some time.

Weapons in F.E.A.R. are good as well. The Player can only carry three at a time and at the beginning will look like this: Pistol, SMG, Rifle. After some time it might look like this: Shotgun, Rifle, and 'heavy' weapon. I have nothing really interesting to say about this but will stress that just because you see a rocket launcher doesn't mean you must or that you even should drop one of your other firearms. The rifle is a viable weapon towards the end. I assume the pistol is as well, but I always drop it to replace it with a weapon with higher DPS like shotgun. The pistol doesn't shoot fast enough for my liking. There is a scoped weapon which actually does decent damage against 'heavies'. I greatly prefer the first rifle you find. It really does work throughout the game.

When one looks at the environment in F.E.A.R.... yeah it is not exactly pretty, but it gets the job done. If this game had Halo Combat Evolved graphics that still would've been fine with me to be honest. I am not a graphics snob but I do require a game to have graphics where it matters. F.E.A.R. actually does this which is good. Other people may complain about it and I am not sure that I can blame them. A modern phone probably can play F.E.A.R. on max setting with no problem to be honest. The battery will drain though, that is for certain.

One part in the story that I don't like is when the Point Man is required to kill Fettel. The game refuses to progress beyond that point, unless the player MURDERS Fettel. At this point the game is basically over and the player probably will play the next game, Extraction Point.

Extraction Point

Again, I recommend 'normal' for Extraction Point because that game... I did not enjoy myself as much as I did in the first game. The main reason is the enemies and their placement is often bullshit.

Second reason is someone had a VISION. That vision requires locking Point Man out of using his abilities/flashlight until the 'scene' was finished. First of all; Point Man has a very special power due to his genes and his abilities including the usage of the flashlight absolutely should not be taken away from the player because if the player was actually Point Man and the player wants to activate uber-reflexs when something spooky happens he should be able to AT WILL. Not when the game designers decided "ok, mates, we spooked the player, let the player use Point Man's abilities and flashlight again!" I rather feel like I am Point Man and enable slow-mo and take a shot at the spooky-thing than realize the game designers needed me to understand their stupid vision. And when I say vision; Point Man in the first game often has hallucinations but it does not take away Point Man's abilities in the middle of the game, when he is not having hallucinations.

Third reason is level design really went down hill. Fighting in the apartments is so dull.

Forth reason is not a game-play reason but instead the game story reason. As Fettel himself puts it:

"I know it doesn't make sense. Not much does anymore."

I agree - the story in this expansion really affected my enjoyment levels. I care but when the developers do not, why should I?

The doors must be possessed: they shut by themselves.

Perseus Mandate

For Perseus Mandate... Now that I am playing it again for the sake of this review I realize that I have placed it in the wrong category as it should be A Rank. I will fix this soon.

I recommend 'hard' at least at the beginning then 'low' when your enemies are... Not so great. Then change it back to hard. Why you ask? At the beginning the game is almost exactly like F.E.A.R. with an exception of a few 'game designer vision' things and then you meet the 'super ninjas' who are so annoying to fight. They can take more than 5 shotgun blasts in the face and still live (even on 'Low Difficulty'). You can SEE their hairlines. You have to fight the bossman of the super ninjas which is just not enjoyable at all.

Overall Perseus Mandate actually was fun with the exception of the Super Ninjas who I lower the game difficulty for, so this game is actually A Rank - not B Rank and Extraction Point is B Rank - not A Rank. Amazing how the last fight of a game affected what I thought about the game overall; and when I thought of Perseus Mandate I always thought of the boss fight and how not fun it was. After wasting the annoying bossman, the player (assuming no prior knowledge or not having read this post) might think: "Overall I had fun! Can't wait to play F.E.A.R. 2 and see how they improve on... well everything!"

B.O.R.E. 2 and F.E.A.R. 3

For F.E.A.R. 2 there are actually more than one game but I only have Project Origin. I have no desire to pay for the DLC known as Reborn... I have to buy 'FEAR Complete Pack' which is $55 USD, just to get the DLC. It cannot be bought independently. Warner Bros has made it this way. What this means is, someone like me who bought F.E.A.R. 1 + DLC, F.E.A.R. 2, F.E.A.R. 3 will have to buy them all again just to play the DLC. I will not do this.

One thing one notices immediately is that the player can't LEAN. Ah, but at least they added sprinting! Only for 6 seconds and only increases your speed by x1.3! Then Beckett develops asthma and can't run again until his sprint meter fills up again. Actually the first thing one notices is the disgusting permanent UI overlay. And oh man, that font is GIANT! Man the bullet decals are really... Not F.E.A.R. looking at all. At least I see the 'x' on my cross-hair when I hit a hostile! Man the dialogue is reallly suffering. Did a child write the dialogue or something? A child would say these 'evil things' when role playing as a bad guy... Man did that guy really just say anime and pizza in the same sentence?

When one stands back and looks at what was presented before them, one can only conclude one thing: this game 'F.E.A.R. 2', which is nothing like 'F.E.A.R. 1', was designed for consoles. Absolutely nothing about this game inspires me. Think of the most generic shooter that you know of. You now have experienced F.E.A.R. 2 and 3. Sure, sure the AI that I was raving about... It exists in some form... But everything about the game sucks. I am so bored. They should've called this game B.O.R.E..

Even though I have not played F.E.A.R. 3 lately, I am certain that the same criticisms I have of F.E.A.R. 2 will apply to F.E.A.R. 3. One cool thing, I suppose, is that F.E.A.R. 3's campaign is two player! Even if I was playing on Windows, I cannot force anyone to play this game with me in good concious.

Story

So the story is interesting... sort of. Well, on paper it is boring. Actually the story... Hmm... You don't play this game for the story. Well... the story makes you connect to the game but it is just the 'background'. There is no intertwining plot or anything. It just sort of exists and you experience the journey that Point Man / Sargent / etc experiences.

So, canonically F.E.A.R.'s expansions, Extraction Point and Perseus Mandate, do not happen. Instead, it is F.E.A.R into F.E.A.R. 2 into F.E.A.R. 3. To be honest it doesn't really matter. It if was up to me, the first game and its expansions would be canon.

Final thoughts

So, F.E.A.R. is really good in my opinion. To me it sets the baseline of what a first person shooter should be like. It is also a slog. It is not a perfect game but it is good. It is fun. Which all a game really needs to be. I think most people should play this game at least once, if they can handle the 'spookyness' which is barely spooky at all. Alma scares you a few times but it is just jump scares. Nothing damaging. Enjoy this webm (iToddlers bfto!) where I play the game!*

Note: * = Please forgive the /g/-ism, if Windows can do Webm and the most uncommon desktop OS can do Webm but the second most common desktop OS (that end users will actually interface with) cannot, then that is just sad.

F.E.A.R. gameplay, 66.9MiB

F.E.A.R. gameplay (same as above but higher quality), 353MiB


Other thoughts

Jake on 2022-02-06,20:54:25 said:

Hmm. I wrote quite a bit on this topic.

Jake on 2022-02-06,22:55:46 said:

https://alumni.media.mit.edu/~jorkin/gdc2006_orkin_jeff_fear.pdf This pdf about F.E.A.R.'s AI is a fun read


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