Status: Campaign completed
Most Intriguing Idea: that enemy AI can be good
Best Design Decision: that AI, man
Worst Design Decision: the evil spirits
F.E.A.R. is a dumb name for a game, and the story that goes with that name is dumb. I want to get that out of the way at the start. The scenario is absurd, the plot is ludicrous, the characters only rarely manage to gain even two dimensions, and the whole thing is written as sloppily as can be. HOWEVER I did not come here for a great story. I came here to slo-mo shotgun clone soldiers in the face, and F.E.A.R. delivered.
The AI made that activity especially rewarding because encounters could be troublesome even on normal difficulty. F.E.A.R. has a punishing damage model and the cleverness of the AI often meant I got into trouble if I moved too far forward. Unfortunately in most cases the level design allowed me too much control over encounters nullifying some of the AI’s power. The slo-mo also served as a bit of a “get out of jail free” card, although it felt consistently cool (as always). Regardless, the combat in F.E.A.R. was great and most of the weapons were satisfying to use.
It’s not all sunshine and roses, of course. The invisible enemies were more of a nuisance than a danger; again, the level design tended to nullify their threat. The enemy bots of all types were also more annoying than interesting to deal with. The largest weakness, though, was the evil spirits that attack in some horror sequences and at the end of the game. A bunch of un-animated naked dudes boiling out of thin air and flying directly at me, dealing huge damage if they got too close, felt like an even worse version of fighting the Flood. I liked that the game eschewed a traditional “boss battle” but this was not a good replacement.
The result is that the last half-level or so is a disappointment, but F.E.A.R. plays so well beforehand that I can forgive it. It’s more than a decade old now but F.E.A.R. is definitely worth revisiting.
Verdict: Highly Recommended