This is the beginning of what I hope is a new weekly series called Retrospective Replay. In it, the intention is to look at old games and see if they hold up to the test of time and remain as fun today as they were when they were first made and see if they are worth picking up or re-installing and playing over again. The first title in this series is F.E.A.R.
F.E.A.R. was originally released on the PC on October 17th, 2005, a year later for the Xbox 360 and two years later for Playstation 3. It puts you in the role of the “Point Man” of the First Encounter Assault Recon unit of the US Army. The unit is tasked with dealing with paranormal threats to national security of the United States.
As a shooter, the mechanics are fairly simple as they go. Movement is crisp and at times it feels like you are more in control of a robot than you are in control of a human. The gunplay itself is fairly simple, and bullet mechanics are basic at their best. There were a few times where, had it been a more modern shooter, I’d have more than likely been able to have certain NPCs dead-to-rights. Bullets do not pass through doors, or windows, or walls that are not specifically allowed for by level design. Its kind of jarring shooting through certain wooden planks but not those right above them, for example. Another problem is that the weapons don’t feel too different from one another. You can clip dump into a target and the bullet spread is more or less going to be the same between weapons of similar kinds. For example, assault rifles and sub machine guns don’t really have enough difference to matter between damage per bullet and how fast you can put them on an enemy.
Level design in this game is frankly, incredibly simple. For the most part, F.E.A.R. is largely a hallway shooter with a series of rooms that you can move around in. The artificial intelligence makes up for it, however, and they will come after you with attempts to flank you. You do need to keep your wits about you, because if you don’t keep moving, you can become a sitting duck.This game was originally designed in 2004 and released in 2005. For its time, it had excellent graphics, though I fear they have not aged well. However, they are not exactly bad, either. The cut scenes are rudimentary at best, and some things are lacking in detail in some places.
Story wise, its not as scary as I remember it being. There are a few places where you are can be caught off guard with a jump-out scare tactic, but otherwise, unless you are squeemish at blood and gore, its really nothing special. Even if you are squeamish with blood and gore, you can turn that off. The artificial intelligence in F.E.A.R. is better than the AI in most other games of its age, although it is highly predictable. If you have basic knowledge of how to out-flank it or set traps, you can go quite far without being hurt.
This is not a review, and no score will be given. So, simply put, should you play or replay it? My answer is yes. The game is still fun all of these years later, and despite its flaws with having aged over the last decade. You should play it if you like shooters and can appreciate the mechanics of the game, rather than the story. The story of F.E.A.R. is more of a secondary part to it, in my opinion, but if you like thrillers, it could be entertaining for you. If you have never played it before, you can pick it up on Amazon, if you prefer physical copies, or if you prefer digital copies, it is also available on steam.
Have you ever played F.E.A.R. before? What do you think of it?