F.E.A.R. is more of an action game rather then a horror game. This is the third time I play the game and I really love the combat, it’s a hectic shooter with visually stunning combat, it’s the combat that makes this game so good. Sure, it’s a linear game but the AI makes up for it. For example I entered a room and was confronted by a group of four solders, they are almost never alone and if one soldier is alone in a room, his buddies are not far away. Suddenly I got a grenade thrown at me and I quickly entered slow-motion in an effort to get away from the grenade. I ran out through the door-opening I came from, but no such luck, I was injured. Instead of healing myself with some medpacks I reloaded the quicksave and this time around I was ready for the grenade. I charged into the room to get away from the grenade but no grenade was thrown at me and this time around they regrouped quickly with two soldiers providing covering fire and the other two assaulted me as I ran to find cover. In most games, not all though, when the enemy uses grenades it’s scripted, but not this time around. The game is still scripted, but these events, as always in games, ties into the story.
Most parts of a level have more then one way around so you can flank the enemy and they can of course flank you. They will use the environment to their advantage, taking cover behind walls, pillars, desks, vending machines and so forth. They’ll lean out and shoot at you, fire blindly at your direction, use grenades to flush you out, run away from your grenades and they are even smart enough not to walk into your proximity mines (if they spot the mines of course). The enemy reacts to the player better then other games and they are always moving, they don’t stand still, they will charge you and this makes combat brilliant. And the enemy is always communicating about the situation, casualties, warnings and give out orders to each other. The effects of a fire fight adds to the already brilliant combat. With bullet holes in walls, blood, dismembered body parts, smoke, dust, soda cans, boxes and particles all fly around in what is a very nice physics engine.I find it strange that boxes don’t break when hit by bullets or grenades, they will just fly around. A few things that I don’t like is that the effects on the environment will disappear after some time and in the end you are battling the same enemy (with some exceptions) over and over again as they are all clones.
Besides the weapons you will have slow motion and hand-to-hand combat to your advantage. Although I rarely used hand-to-hand combat because in fast paced combat a slide kick is not the first thing that comes to mind as a well placed twelve gauge shoot will do the trick just fine. But hand-to-hand combat has its charm and should be used with slow motion. Slow motion will recharge pretty quickly after you’ve used it, and you will find reflex boosters which will increase the slow motion permanently, you will also find health boosters which act in the same way.
Single Player Part 2: Weapons, Sound and Levels
To combat all these evil doers you need an arsenal of weapons. I’ve counted four weapons which resembles real-life weapons, the pistol which you can carry two of and looks like a SOCOM, the SMG which reminds of a MP-5 (and in the games comes with an insane rate of fire) and the shotgun, a SPAS-12, and the closest thing we come to a sniper rifle is a weapon that looks like IMI TAR-21 which is to my disbelief not set to automatic fire, only burst, but will kill very fast. Then we have a list of non-real weapons. We got our standard assault rifle which is my favorite and a few heavier weapons such as a particle weapon which cuts right through your opponents and what is left is a pile of bones, the nail gun which shoots 10mm nails, a rocket launcher and finally a portable repeating cannon. We also got fragmentation grenades, remote detonated bombs (which stick to surfaces and even enemies) and finally proximity mines. I really like the weapons in this game. You should carry one “heavy weapon”, because you never know what you will encounter. You can carry three weapons with you (including two pistols and two other weapons), ten medpacks, five grenades, five proximity mines and five remote detonated bombs. They are also well balanced in my mind as even the akimbo-style guns are quite powerful, even one pistol will do the trick on most enemies. Every weapon has its own characteristics and the heavier toys will slow you down.
Half the game is the sound, weather it’s the combat or the ambient sounds, they are really well done and with all the sound options turned it it’s even a better, the combat feels and sound chaotic. The music is very tribal, ambient and strange with some action motifs. The voice actors do a good job; several of the names have worked on earlier Monolith games and deliver solid and good voice acting.
There are 11 chapters, or intervals as they are called in the game, with two or three levels a piece. They range from a wastewater treatment plant, sewers, office complexes and old warehouses. Some people might not like the setting as it’s usually the same run-down areas of decay, but they are realistic and believable. The levels are riddled with boxes, chairs, tables and computers and so forth. The game is short though, ten hours depending on how you play, and I believe it took a little longer for me the first time, but it’s a memorable experience with the cinematic and intense combat and the atmosphere of the game. The problem solving is the same as most shooters, “find button and door opens” but most of the problem solving is the enemy.