F.E.A.R. Sounds pretty bad-ass, doesn't it? If only military organisations actually
named themselves by thinking of cool words then working out an acronym to fit them.
Blazing gunfire, taut psychological horror and creepy little girls are the order of the day in this port of Vivendi's PC survival-horror. If you haven't blown someone's arm off in the first half hour, you're doing something wrong.
stands for 'First Encounter Assault Reconnaissance', a string of words that doesn't seem to mean a whole lot, but is nonetheless the name of the elite strike force that players join.
The premise - which will be familiar to those of you who have played the original PC version (and then the Xbox 360 port) - goes like this: an unknown paramilitary group has taken over an aerospace complex and grabbed a few hostages while they're at it. When a strike team's sent in after them it all goes a bit wrong. Live footage shows them being ripped apart by an unknown force. So, when things get creepy and folk start dying, who you gonna call? We'll give you a clue: it's not Ghostbusters
and it is
in the game's title.
The story is minimal at best. The plot's advanced fairly unobtrusively through answer-phone messages, laptops left carelessly lying around, comms chatter and the occasional in game cut-scene. It's so unobtrusive, in fact, that if you choose to ignore it entirely it won't affect your game.
Nope, if you're going to pick up F.E.A.R.
it's going to be for some kick-ass gun-fighting, cut with a healthy offering of taut suspense.
By far the game's best feature is its bullet-time effect. Faced with a room full of soldiers, all with guns all pointing your way, you've got the option to slow everything around you down to a crawl for a limited time as you pick the enemy off at will. No real explanation as to how you're able to do it is given, but... pah, if we couldn't suspend our disbelief we'd be off shooting elk instead of playing on our PS3s.
The slow-mo effect's jolly good fun, especially as you watch enemy soldiers fall off walkways drifting through a cloud of their own blood. It's pretty bloody necessary, too. For the first 20 minutes of play I didn't pay the option much attention and, lo and behold, I kept getting cut down by enemy fire.
This brings me around quite nicely to the subject of the baddies. The good news is that the AI works really well. Enemy soldiers work strategically, frequently attacking from positions with good cover and moving around to pin you down.
The bad news is that there isn't a huge amount of variety. Despite the heavy presence of the supernatural in F.E.A.R.
it's not often that you're called upon to fight anything all that strange. Mostly that weird looking girl (pictured left) you've no doubt seen in the advertising is there to hang about, creeping you out.
Every now and then a heavy with chunky body armour and a meaty weapon will turn up to bother you, but beyond that it's mostly a case of dealing with run of the mill soldiers.
That said, when things get going the action's frenetic, bloody and enjoyable. If the majority of the game consisted of shoot-outs then F.E.A.R.
would be a really strong addition to the PS3's game line-up.